Since Israel started bombing Gaza following the Hamas assault on October 7, the charity Medical doctors With out Borders — sometimes called Medical doctors With out Borders, or by its English title, Medical doctors With out Borders — has been documenting the humanitarian disaster in Gaza, the place individuals dwell Greater than 11 individuals. 1000’s of individuals have been killed to date, in response to the Gaza Ministry of Well being. I just lately spoke by telephone with Anne Taylor, MSF’s head of mission in Palestine; Its headquarters are in Jerusalem. She mentioned what her group witnessed, and what life is like for her staff on the bottom. Taylor has been with the group for twenty years, and has labored in a variety of battle areas. Throughout our dialog, which has been edited for size and readability, we mentioned the circumstances of MSF employees in Gaza, how the group tries to keep away from politics, and what makes this battle completely different from others Taylor has witnessed.
Earlier than October 7, what’s MSF’s function in Gaza?
We have had a program there for a few years. Now we have labored in lots of hospitals supporting the Ministry of Well being. We did some secondary well being care, together with burn surgical procedures. We labored in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza Metropolis. We additionally had our personal clinic. We had two different clinics run alongside the Ministry of Well being. And in Al-Awda Hospital, and we labored within the south, within the Nasser Medical Middle. So, there have been a number of hospitals that we have been related to, in addition to a few of our personal main well being care services. This was all earlier than the horrific occasions of October seventh, which appear to have occurred a very long time in the past.
Since then the scenario has develop into extraordinarily disastrous for the individuals of Gaza, who’re already residing in tough circumstances and have been beneath a strict blockade for sixteen years. They have been all the time beneath strain, and typically bombs have been dropped on them, however often over a interval of some days or even weeks. Within the present scenario, the Israeli military started bombing a densely populated space, which is Gaza Metropolis. Now we have to keep in mind that it’s a small place, about forty-five kilometers lengthy and between six and twelve kilometers extensive, and inhabited by greater than two million individuals.
How many individuals are actually in Gaza doing medical work?
In the mean time now we have a employees of about 300 Palestinians. We rotated some worldwide employees. We even have a staff of about 13 worldwide employees working right here at Nasser Medical Middle within the South, which is a surgical staff. So they’re doing the work there these days.
Have been any of your staff injured or killed within the bombing?
Sure, now we have misplaced present and former staff, and plenty of of our staff have misplaced relations. It was very painful. There have been numerous constructing collapses, so a few of our staff misplaced their households that approach. It’s a very tragic scenario.
I do know that only a few individuals are truly leaving Gaza at this level; I ponder if a few of your worldwide employees are attempting to get out. Possibly this isn’t potential.
When October seventh occurred, we had twenty-two arrivals there. So we rotate. We truly took them out, as a result of it was a really traumatic expertise. After which we introduced in a brand new staff. The thought is that we’ll proceed to enhance this new staff. However it’s a must to perceive that Gaza may be very unsafe proper now. There are additionally main issues with meals, electrical energy, water and gasoline provides. We face an actual drawback within the north. It has been torn aside in the intervening time. Within the South, now we have to attempt to work one thing out that may be very tough. . . The provision of this stuff shouldn’t be sufficient. It is not sufficient.
MSF has been in lots of horrific battle zones, and I ponder how comparable or completely different what you might be coping with now could be to different locations you might have been?
It is completely different. And sure, I’ve labored in battle zones. And they’re all the time very unhealthy. However that is particularly brutal due to the massive variety of civilian casualties. They usually can not escape from it. They cannot transfer. They have been requested to maneuver to the south. However are we speaking about simply decreasing the world from forty-five kilometers to twenty kilometers and making an attempt to place two million individuals there, which suggests . . . It is simply an distinctive case. And no, I did not watch it.
They didn’t cease bombing. They’re nonetheless bombing. They’ve troops there with tanks. That is simply constant. It is nicely documented. We see it everywhere in the world in all of the newspapers and on tv. So it is as if individuals know precisely what is going on on. But it would not cease. I’ve by no means seen that earlier than.
The place else have been you stationed?
I have been to Congo, I have been to Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire. Oh, my God. loads. would you like extra?
No, there was numerous widespread violence in opposition to civilians within the final twenty years in lots of of those locations. So that you saying that is nonetheless completely different is noteworthy.
It’s noteworthy within the sense that there are such a variety of individuals – civilians – who can not transfer simply. They’re bombed and shot. I’ve by no means seen this type of violence. We’re additionally speaking a few inhabitants of about seventy p.c girls and youngsters. So the numbers we noticed about deaths are greater than ten thousand deaths. However with the Ministry of Well being now destroyed, it is rather tough for them to even hold observe of it. However you then be taught that with ten thousand deaths, seventy p.c of them are probably girls and youngsters, in response to the Ministry of Well being. The variety of wounded may be very, very excessive. There are additionally individuals beneath the rubble, and we can not get them out. So the numbers are fairly astonishing.
(Tags for translation)Israel