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Explained: How the Israeli army attacked Gaza's Nasser Hospital

04 Apr 24 | 17 Apr 24

Explained: How the Israeli army attacked Gaza's Nasser Hospital

A photo of the devastation inside Nasser Hospital, taken 13 March 2024 Caption
A photo of the devastation inside Nasser Hospital, taken 13 March 2024

On the night of 14-15 February, Nasser Hospital – once the largest hospital in southern Gaza – was shelled by Israeli forces.

The orthopaedic department was hit, killing one person and injuring eight others. Israeli forces then stormed the facility.

For several weeks, the hospital had been under siege, surrounded by the intense fighting between Palestinian armed groups and the Israeli military that was playing out across Khan Younis.

Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff working at the hospital were first-hand witnesses to the events.

Here, their accounts, corroborated by other sources, retrace the moments that lead up to the night of 14-15 February and the forced evacuation of the hospital.

Attack on Nasser: The timeline

1 December 2023

Fighting resumes between the Israeli army and Hamas, ending a seven-day truce that began on 24 November.

17 December 2023 | MSF logbook*

"Maternity ward targeted. A 13-year-old girl killed, many casualties."

The girl is 13-year-old Dina, a patient with both legs amputated who was made an orphan following an airstrike on her house in north Gaza

*An MSF logbook is an internal document used to record important information and events affecting the project. This particular log includes the medical activities of teams in Gaza, security incidents, patient evacuations and fuel supply details. It is used to exchange information between staff working in Gaza and the coordination team in Jerusalem.

25 December 2023 | MSF logbook

"Heavy bombing around Nasser following evacuation order of blocks 64 and 112 beside Nasser."

A map of Nasser Hospital in South Gaza Caption
A map of Nasser Hospital in South Gaza

8 January 2024

The Israeli army shell an MSF shelter housing over 100 MSF staff members and their families in Khan Younis. The five-year-old daughter of one of them is killed.

News article: read more

13 January 2024 | Thomas Lauvin, MSF project coordinator

“We’re gradually being cornered in a very restrictive perimeter in southern Gaza, with dwindling options to offer critical medical assistance, while the needs are desperately growing.

"As the assault on Gaza has progressed, we have had to evacuate several health facilities in the north of Gaza, then in the Middle Area.

"Today we are limited to mainly working in the south because we cannot work elsewhere. In short, we’re running out of hospitals. We are forced to leave patients behind.”

15 January 2024 | Report following a visit to Nasser Hospital by Aurélie Godard, MSF medical team leader, and Léo Cans, Head of MSF in Palestine

“On 15 January at around 3 pm an airstrike hit trucks that were unloading food at 150 metres east of the hospital. The noise was so loud that it was painful for the ears. After a few minutes, many wounded arrived at the hospital, some carried by people on foot, some by ambulances and some in private cars.

"Total of eight killed, including two boys four/five years old, and 80 injured, including 20 who had to undergo surgery. The next morning we visited a young boy around 10 years old who was hurt by the blast when crossing the street.”

18 January 2024 | MSF logbook

"Nasser: Heavy bombing and tank shelling at night. Staff and patients very scared."

On the same day, the Israeli army bomb a residential complex housing the emergency medical team (EMT) of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and members of Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) and their families. Israeli forces are aware of the presence of those teams on site. Following the attack, the EMT suspends its medical activities at Nasser Hospital.

21 January 2024 | MSF logbook

"Nasser hospital: totally surrounded by troops. Heavy bombing and fighting all around the hospital."

23 January 2024 | MSF logbook

"New evacuation order in Khan Younis, including Nasser hospital, Al-Amal hospital and Jordanian hospital. Nasser under heavy fighting, no one can enter/exit. Still many casualties, OT [operating theatre] not functioning."

On the same day, three MSF staff members try to evacuate the hospital but are unable to do so. They report gunfire and explosions all around.

25 January 2024 | MSF logbook

"Nasser not accessible by ambulances. Three days of fuel [left]."

26 January 2024 | Statement by Israeli forces on ongoing military operations in Khan Younis

“The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] has been liaising with the hospital directors and medical staff, on the phone and on the ground, to ensure that the hospitals can remain operational and accessible.

"The IDF communicated that there is no obligation to evacuate the hospitals. On the contrary, we have reiterated the importance of safeguarding and protecting these hospitals so that they can continue providing medical services to the people of Gaza. IDF forces were briefed about the importance of operating with caution in the area of the hospitals and designated shelters prior to their operation against Hamas in this area.

"Gazans who wish to move from the Nasser and Al-Amal hospitals, as many have chosen to do, can pass through the corridor on the Al-Bahar street, located on the western side of the hospitals.”

Some of the destruction inside the Nasser Hospital compound Caption
Some of the destruction inside the Nasser Hospital compound

MSF staff member trapped in Nasser hospital

"There was no staff left at the emergency room [ER] of Nasser hospital. There were no beds, just a few chairs and no staff, just a few nurses. We took the patients to the ER to provide first aid; we managed with what we had, tried to stop the bleeding and sort the patients there. It was a horrible event and really affected me psychologically.

"...I went to the surgical room to receive a patient in our department and asked the few remaining staff if they could supply an abdominal gauze. They said that they didn’t have any to spare and that the ones they had were already being used on several patients. They use it once, then squeeze out the blood, wash it, sterilise it and reuse it with another patient. This is the situation in Nasser’s operating theatre, can you imagine?"

Photo taken inside Nasser Hospital, 13 March 2024 Caption
Photo taken inside Nasser Hospital, 13 March 2024

27 January 2024 | MSF surgeon Dr Ahmed Moghrabi describes conditions inside Nasser Hospital to several media outlets


Dr. Ahmed Moghrabi, a surgeon, described days of “horror” at Nasser Hospital, one of the last hospitals still providing medical care in Gaza. Dr. Moghrabi, who has worked at the hospital complex for three years, shared footage with The New York Times that he filmed last week. As Israel has wound down its operations in northern Gaza, it has pushed ahead with an invasion of Khan Younis, where Nasser Hospital is located and where hundreds of thousands of displaced people have sought shelter in schools, hospitals and tent cities. Last week, the Israeli military ordered evacuations from parts of the city that included two hospitals, Nasser and Al-Amal. Video by Nailah Morgan and Arijeta Lajka

♬ original sound - The New York Times

29 January 2024 | MSF logbook

"WHO delivered medical supply to Nasser hospital."

30 January 2024 | MSF logbook

"UNRWA sent fuel to Nasser."

6 February 2024 | MSF logbook

"Heavy fighting in Khan Younis, near Nasser. Nasser hospital still under siege. 450 wounded, 300 medical personnel, 10 000 displaced."

8 February 2024 | MSF logbook

"Nasser surrounded by tanks. Snipers shooting towards the hospital. One nurse injured (live bullet in the chest)."

11 February 2024 | MSF logbook

"Nasser surrounded by tanks. Snipers shooting towards the hospital (one man shot dead at the entrance of the hospital)."

13 February 2024 | MSF logbook

"Nasser: order of evacuation of IDPs [internally displaced people]. 402 patients, 35 on dialysis, 18 ICU, three neonatal ICU, three to four women post-delivery and just under 200 are stretcher patients. Three people were killed and 10 others injured by Israeli fire inside Nasser medical complex."

An Israeli military bulldozer destroys the gate at the northern entrance of the hospital and is followed by a tank. Soldiers then order displaced people to leave the hospital.

A handcuffed Palestinian prisoner wearing white personal protective equipment (PPE) is later sent to the hospital by the Israeli army to order displaced people to evacuate once again. Images published by several media outlets show he is later executed.

News article: Read more

Night of 14-15 February 2024 | MSF logbook

"At night: shelling on orthopaedic department of Nasser. One person killed, eight injured. Israeli forces entered Nasser hospital destroying a lot of equipment, ambulances… Staff started to evacuate the hospital in the middle of the night. MSF staff member arrested by Israeli forces."

15 February 2024 | Flash update #119 from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

“As of the time of writing of this update, on 15 February, Israeli forces reportedly entered Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, including the maternity department, according to MoH in Gaza. The Israeli military has alleged that Hamas was holding hostages or withholding the bodies of Israelis within the compound.

"The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reported that two planned missions to reach the hospital over the past four days had been denied access and his staff have lost contact with the hospital personnel.”

Dr Ahmed Moghrabi talks to Agence France-Presse about the night of 14-15 February and his evacuation from Nasser Hospital

Watch on AFP's YouTube channel

16 February 2024 | MSF logbook

"Five patients died without appropriate healthcare due to the lack of electricity. Israeli forces arrested 20 people."

17 February 2024 | MSF logbook

"Israeli forces still inside Nasser. No water, no food. Evacuation of 14 patients (United Nations/Palestine Red Crescent Society). WHO team was not permitted to enter the hospital to assess the conditions of the patients and critical medical needs, despite reaching the hospital compound to deliver fuel.

"Still active combat zone around, ambulances couldn’t enter the compound, patients carried out manually."

20 February 2024 | Guillemette Thomas, MSF medical coordinator

“The situation in Nasser hospital is yet another example of the way healthcare facilities are being dismantled one by one in this war. Even though they were initially told they could stay inside the facility, medical staff and patients were put in danger in a place where they should have been protected.”

News article: Read more

21 February 2024 | Flash update #123 from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

“On 20 February, PRCS [Palestine Red Crescent Society] ambulances evacuated 21 injured people from Nasser hospital, also in Khan Younis, to two field hospitals in Rafah, in collaboration with WHO and OCHA. The previous two days, the same partners had evacuated 32 patients in critical condition from Nasser hospital to three other hospitals in Gaza following the siege and raid on the hospital complex by the Israeli military.”

An abandoned ward inside Nasser Hospital Caption
An abandoned ward inside Nasser Hospital

22 February 2024 | MSF logbook

"Israeli forces withdrew yesterday from Nasser hospital. Evacuation of patients to Deir Al-Balah, Khan Younis and Rafah. No water, no electricity, no food. Accumulation of waste, sewage overflowing."

27 February 2024 | MSF logbook

"Evacuation of 72 critical cases in total. 120 patients still there. 70 health workers still detained."

12 March 2024 | BBC releases verified footage showing detained and kneeling people inside Nasser Hospital after it was raided by the Israeli army

17 March 2024 | Leo Cans, head of MSF in Palestine, describes his visits to Al-Shifa and Nasser hospitals

The evidence at our disposal points to deliberate and repeated attacks by Israeli forces against Nasser Hospital, its patients and its medical staff. In November 2023, MSF documented similar attacks on Al-Shifa and Al-Quds hospitals, and on Al-Nasr children’s hospital in the north of Gaza.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), only a third of Gaza's hospitals are partially functional. Between 7 October 2023 and 12 March 2024, there have been 410 attacks on healthcare reported by the Ministry of Health and the WHO.

MSF reiterates its call for an immediate, sustained ceasefire in Gaza – the only way to bring an end to the massacre of civilians and to allow humanitarian organisations to respond to the immense needs of a terrified, starving and exhausted population.

MSF and the Israel – Hamas conflict

An unprecedented humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Gaza. MSF teams have worked to treat the wounded and supply overwhelmed hospitals as indiscriminate airstrikes and a state of siege threaten millions of men, women and children.

Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is horrified by the events that began on Saturday 7 October – both the brutal mass killing of civilians perpetrated by Hamas in Israel, and by the massive attacks on Gaza now being pursued by the Israeli military.