NewsMSF calls for an immediate end to the offensive in Rafah

MSF calls for an immediate end to the offensive in Rafah

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May 2024- As the United Nations Security Council meets after Israel struck tent camps sheltering displaced people in designated “humanitarian zones” in southern Gaza, Palestine, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) calls for an immediate end to the Rafah offensive and the ongoing atrocities across the Gaza Strip. Israel’s military strategy of repeatedly launching attacks in densely populated areas inevitably leads to the mass killing of civilians.

“Civilians are being massacred. They are being pushed into areas they were told would be safe only to be subjected to relentless airstrikes and heavy fighting,” says Chris Lockyear, MSF Secretary General. “Entire families, made up of dozens of people, are crowded into tents and living in extremely difficult conditions. Over 900,000 people were forcibly displaced again as Israeli forces intensified their offensive on Rafah in early May.”

Medical staff and patients at an MSF-supported trauma stabilisation point in Tal Al-Sultan in Rafah were also forced to flee on the night of 27 May, as hostilities in the area intensified, effectively stopping all medical activities in the facility. This forced evacuation of yet another healthcare facility comes 24 hours after Israeli forces carried out an air strike on what they had designated as a “safe zone”, killing at least 49 people and wounding over 250 others.

Also Read: MSF Forced to Flee Gaza Hospital as War Destroys Medical Haven

“All of last night we heard clashes, bombings and rockets being fired. Nobody knows what exactly is happening,” says Dr Safa Jaber, an MSF gynaecologist who is living in the Tal Al-Sultan tent camp with her family. “We are scared for our children, scared for ourselves. We were not expecting this to happen suddenly. Where shall we go? We are struggling to find the basics that every human being needs to stay alive.”

Nearly eight months into this war, there is no longer a single healthcare facility in Gaza that has the capacity to handle a mass casualty event such as the one on 27 May. The closure of the MSF-supported trauma point in Tal Al-Sultan follows an air strike on the same day on Kuwaiti hospital in Rafah, which killed two staff and put the hospital out of service. Nearly all hospitals in Rafah have been forcibly evacuated, and are either out of service or barely functioning, leaving no possibility for the provision of or access to medical care.

“Hundreds of thousands of civilians are being subjected to a brutal and relentless demonstration of collective punishment,” says Karin Huster, MSF Project Medical Referent in Gaza. “Along with the bombings, the severe blockages of aid are making it impossible for us to help in a meaningful way. People are also dying because humanitarian workers are being prevented from doing their jobs.”

Israeli bombardments and heavy fighting also continue to devastate the north of the enclave, which is almost inaccessible for humanitarian workers. Hospitals in the north are under fire and have been subject to extensive destruction, including Al-Awda and Kamal Adwan hospitals, the latter of which was bombed by Israeli forces just today. Other hospitals such as Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir Al-Balah and Nasser in Khan Younis have reported fuel shortages and may soon no longer be able to function.

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