© Juan Carlos Tomasi/MSF

Occupied Palestinian Territory

Roughly 25 percent of people killed in the latest Gaza war were children

The human toll of the Gaza war is appalling. 

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has worked in Palestine since 1989 to help meet the medical and psychological needs of the population. 

We provide medical and psychological assistance to people affected by the ongoing conflict in Palestine, continuing our long-running mental health programmes on the West Bank and support to victims of burns and trauma in the Gaza Strip.

Our patients have been exposed to critical events, such as witnessing violence, raids on their homes, arrests and deaths of family members, and consequently, they have developed anxiety, stress and sleeping problems.

We run mental health programmes in Hebron, Nablus, Qalqilya, Bethlehem and Ramallah governorates offering psychological and social support to victims of political violence.

In May 2021, an MSF team supported the staff in Al-Awda hospital in treating patients injured by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza. MSF also donated essential medical supplies for trauma care to different health facilities treating the wounded.

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In our burns and trauma centres in the Gaza Strip, we treat patients, most of them children. The majority of patients had burns, usually the result of domestic accidents in conflict-damaged homes. There are three centres, in Gaza City, Khan Younis and Bet Lahyia.

MSF's work in Occupied Palestinian Territory: 2020 

In 2020, COVID-19 exacerbated the health crisis in Palestine caused by the ongoing occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Gaza

Gaza The health system in Gaza has been crippled by the 10-year-long Israeli blockade and, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, was struggling to meet patient needs, due to severe shortages of essential medical equipment and supplies.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) continues to provide orthopaedic care in Al-Awda hospital, in the north, and post-operative care, for both children and adults, at our outpatient clinics. Services include physiotherapy and mental health counselling to help patients through long and painful treatment processes. We also run several projects in Gaza dedicated to the treatment of bone infection caused by violent trauma. In 2020 we opened a new one at Nasser hospital, in the south.

We supported Ministry of Health teams in the European hospital when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, donating oxygen concentrators and offering training on oxygen management, patient support and intensive care. 

The West Bank

To support the overstretched health services in Hebron during the pandemic, MSF provided technical advice and training to hospital staff on personal protective equipment (PPE), infectious waste management, infection and prevention control, oxygen therapy and intensive care in Dura and Alia hospitals, two facilities treating COVID-19 patients.

The occupation and associated violence continue to have a profound impact on the mental health of Palestinians. Our teams offered psychological support in Hebron, Nablus and Qalqilya, adapting activities to respond to needs related to COVID-19, with remote counselling by phone temporarily replacing in-person support sessions. We extended our services to treat COVID-19 patients and their families, distributed hygiene kits and PPE, including face masks, and conducted health promotion activities in the most at-risk communities.

Overview of Nablus, West Bank in 2020.

In late 2020, we began to run mobile clinics to provide healthcare in remote communities in the south of Hebron district.

MSF's work in Occupied Palestinian Territory: 2019

In 2019, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provided surgical and post-operative care to thousands of people injured in protests in Gaza, and mental health support to victims of political tensions on the West Bank. 

 

Gaza 

The protests known as the Great March of Return, along the fence that separates Israel from the Gaza strip, continued throughout the year, with lower turnout and casualties compared to 2018. According to the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs, 1,822 Palestinians were injured by the Israeli army with live ammunition in 2019, while thousands of people wounded in the protests during 2018 still required complex and lengthy treatment. Their massive medical needs far exceed the health system’s capacity, which has been crippled by the decade-long Israeli blockade, and lacks essential medical equipment and supplies. 

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We admitted 1,169 patients injured in the protests to four clinics in Beit Lahia, Gaza City, Middle Area and Khan Younis, where we provided post-operative dressings, physiotherapy and psychosocial support. In Dar Al-Salam hospital, southern Gaza, and in Al-Awda hospital, in the north, our services included surgery and post operative care, treatment for bone infections, physiotherapy and mental health counselling to help patients through long and painful treatment processes. Our teams operated on 609 trauma patients, performing 1,950 surgical interventions.

Due to the severity and complexity of the injuries and the high rates of antibiotic resistant infections among our patients, we expanded the hospital and surgical capacity to a total of 36 isolation rooms, 19 beds in general wards and three operating theatres in Dar Al-Salam and Al-Awda hospitals.

In April, we opened the first laboratory equipped to analyse bone and soft-tissue samples in Gaza, an essential service to detect the bacteria causing infections in our patients. Previously, samples had to be shipped to Israel for analysis – a more complicated and time-consuming procedure.

In addition to our work with trauma cases, we admitted 5,531 burns patients to our clinics and supported the burns unit at Al-Shifa hospital with a team to perform elective surgery.

Sabrine Wadi, a physiotherapist working  with MSF at Al-Awda hospital in northern  Gaza, assists a patient with his exercises.  Palestine, November 2019.

 

The West Bank 

In a context of ongoing occupation and intensifying violence, our teams continued to offer free and confidential psychological support across the West Bank.

In Hebron district, our team of locally hired and international psychologists, counsellors and medical staff conducted home visits, individual and group psychosocial sessions, and psychotherapy consultations with adults, teenagers and children directly and indirectly affected by conflict-related violence.

In Nablus and Qalqilya, we provided psychotherapeutic and psychiatric assistance, group therapy, group mental health awareness sessions and psychosocial support activities in two clinics, and in a new consultation room opened in Tubas in December.

We ran a total of 5,240 counselling and psychotherapy sessions throughout the year and 2,398 patients received psychotherapy support.

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