MSF condemns barriers to health care access in Jenin during the largest military raid in the West Bank since 2002

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5 Jul 2023
Press release
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Occupied Palestinian Territory

Jenin, Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), July 3, 2023 – MSF staff are currently providing healthcare in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, following a large-scale raid by Israeli forces in the city’s refugee camp, the largest in the West Bank since 2002. At least 8 people were killed, and 91 others have been injured in a ground and air attack that left many with gunshot and shrapnel wounds.

Beyond killing and injuring people, the raid also damaged health structures, and obstructed medical response to the emergency. Several gas canisters landed in the courtyard of the Khalil Suleiman hospital, where MSF staff had been treating patients suffering from gunshot wounds since 2 am.

"The raids in Jenin are becoming more and more frequent, and their intensity seems to reach new heights. We have seen several patients with gunshot wounds to the head and we have received 53 wounded patients," said Jovana Arsenijevic, MSF Operations Coordinator in Jenin.

Military bulldozers destroyed multiple roads leading to the Jenin refugee camp, stripping them of pavement and making it nearly impossible for ambulances to reach patients; during the raid, Palestinian paramedics have been forced to proceed on foot, in an area with active gunfire and drone strikes. All roads leading to the camp have been blocked for the duration of the military operation despite the presence of patients in need of care inside the refugee camp.

“We've been working for 15 hours and patients keep coming in. This is an unprecedentedly long military operation, and yet there are still victims that cannot be reached. Health care staff must be allowed to access patients unhindered,” Arsenijevic said.

July 3 was the eighth raid by Israeli forces in 2023, bringing the number of deaths during military operations in the city to 43 this year. With raids increasing in frequency, obstructions to medical care provision are on the rise too. During the last raid by Israeli forces in Jenin’s refugee camp on June 19, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) reported an ambulance being struck by five bullets.

Raids by Israeli forces in Jenin are increasingly resorting to air support, a worrying development in the use of violence. Today, at least 10 air attacks were reported in Jenin.

“Raids on Jenin camp have started to follow a familiar pattern – ambulances have been rammed by armoured cars or fired upon several times, patients and health care staff have routinely been denied entry and egress to the camp, and this is the second time we see tear gas canisters land in the hospital. However, the use of attack helicopters and drone strikes in such a densely populated area represents a marked increase in intensity and is nothing short of outrageous. Medical structures, ambulances, patients and human life must be respected. Statements from Israeli forces that only military infrastructure is being targeted stand in stark contrast to what we see: the hospital where we are treating patients was struck by tear gas canisters." 

MSF has been in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 1989 and currently has medical humanitarian operations in Jenin, Nablus, Hebron, and Gaza