1. Home
  2. News & stories
  3. Gaza: Before 7 October

Gaza: Before 7 October

10 Jun 24 | 12 Jun 24

Watch our documentary following MSF staff in Gaza before 7 October

This documentary was filmed in May, 2023. It illustrates some of the challenges that existed prior to the full-scale war that began on 7 October, including the challenges faced by medical professionals and hospitals due to Israel’s blockade of Gaza. This blockade has long made it extremely difficult to import essential medical items, such C-arms (mobile x-ray machines, essential for orthopaedic surgeries).

However, the film also illustrates that prior to October, there was a robust and functional healthcare system in Gaza, offering advanced surgical care, research and stewardship on antimicrobial resistance among other things.

Dr Sohaib Safi, Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Medical Coordinator Support, explains the impact of successive escalations in violence and fears for the future. In the film he says, "I don't know if in the next couple of years it's going to be an escalation every year - and how life could be like this? I don't know. But we're here and we're trying."

On 6 October 2023, MSF staff were running medical humanitarian activities that included tending to patients wounded by so-called butterfly bullets, fired by Israeli snipers at people as they protested in the days and weeks prior to the war that engulfed the region on 7 October. We were also treating 87 patients for long-term injuries (down from an original patient cohort of almost 900), sustained in the Great March of Return escalation in 2018 and 2019.

Today that healthcare system no longer exists; it has been systematically dismantled in bombing, fighting, as well as the killing, abuse and arrest of medical professionals and patients.

At MSF's out-patient department in Batil refugee camp Gandhi Pant, a nurse, escorts a patient with a possible appendicitis to a waiting ambulance. 

Batil is one of three camps in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State sheltering at least 113,000 refugees who have crossed the border from Blue Nile state to escape fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the SPLM-North armed group. Refugees arrive at the camp with harrowing stories of being bombed out of their homes, or having their villages burned. The camps into which they have poured are on a vast floodplain, leaving many tents flooded and refugees vulnerable to disease. Mortality rates in Batil camp are at emergency levels, malnutrition rates are more than five times above emergency thresholds, and diarrhea and malarial cases are rising.

Help us prepare for the next emergency

MSF and the Israel – Gaza war

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.