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The Crisis in Gaza: MSF Medical Staff Forced to Abandon Nasser Hospital Amidst Tensions

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Zara Nwosu
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The Crisis in Gaza: MSF Medical Staff Forced to Abandon Nasser Hospital Amidst Tensions

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In a distressing turn of events, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical staff had to abandon Nasser Hospital in Gaza, leaving patients behind, as Israeli forces set up a checkpoint to screen people leaving the compound. The Israeli Forces issued an evacuation order to thousands of displaced people sheltering inside the hospital, causing a massive humanitarian crisis. One of the MSF staff members was detained at this checkpoint, and there is a call for his safety and the protection of his dignity.

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Evacuation Amidst Crisis

On 13 February, an Israeli military bulldozer destroyed the north gate of the hospital grounds, ordering displaced people to leave through it. Medical staff and patients were told they may remain in the hospital with a limit of one caretaker per patient. Despite these near impossible conditions, some MSF staff remained and continued to treat patients, showcasing their unwavering commitment to their mission.

Nasser Hospital Under Siege

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Israeli special forces laid siege to Nasser Hospital in Gaza, the largest functioning hospital in the enclave, for days before raiding it. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed to have detained suspects and gathered intelligence from released hostages. However, the humanitarian impact of this operation has been catastrophic, with Israeli snipers reportedly shooting dead people trying to flee the hospital, and a trauma surgeon reporting intense bombardment for at least three days.

A Devastating Humanitarian Situation

The hospital is facing an impending electrical generator failure and has very low supplies, leading to a catastrophic situation. The war began when Hamas militants burst through Israel's defenses, killing over 1,200 people and taking 250 hostages. Over 28,000 Palestinians have been killed, 80% of the population have fled their homes, and a quarter are starving amid a worsening humanitarian catastrophe. The Israeli forces' order to evacuate patients, staff, and displaced people from Nasser Hospital has forced people into an impossible situation.

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MSF's Lifesaving Mission Amidst War

MSF has been working in Gaza for 35 years and is providing lifesaving medical care amidst the ongoing war. The Gaza Strip is under a blockade by Israeli authorities, leading to limited access to essential supplies and medical treatment. The collapse of healthcare infrastructure, war wounds, infections, famine, and medical evacuations are some of the urgent medical needs in Gaza. Israeli forces have attacked and besieged hospitals, leading to shortages of fuel, medicines, food, and water, hindering the medical response.

An Unforeseen Attack

Reports have surfaced of heavy tank and machine-gun fire as the Israeli army entered Nasser Hospital after ordering occupants to evacuate. This has led to a critical situation where MSF medical staff were forced to flee, leaving the hospital and its patients in a state of uncertainty and fear.

As the situation continues to escalate, the need for a humanitarian response and international intervention becomes more pressing. The safety and dignity of medical staff, as well as the dire need for medical aid and supplies in Gaza, must be prioritized to ensure that the people caught in the crossfire of this conflict can receive the care they desperately need.

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