Prague/Gaza, November 8, 2023
- Thousands of Gazans working in Israel had their residency permits revoked following the Hamas attacks on October 7, 2023.
- According to the Palestinian Ministry of Labor, approximately 6,000 people are now displaced in the West Bank, some of whom live in deplorable conditions.
- MSF teams deliver medicines for non-communicable diseases to displaced people and also provide psychological assistance.
“Before October 7, everything was fine,” says Hussein*, 62, who lives in Gaza but worked in Israel for 37 years before the war broke out. “I was going to work in Ashdod, an Israeli city about 35 to 40 kilometers north of Gaza. Sometimes I slept there, other times I returned to Gaza to spend time with my family,” he recalls.
To support his family, he worked as a house painter and on farms. “They treated me well there, I have a lot of Israeli friends,” describing. The day before the attacks on October 7, he was drinking coffee with his best friend at the place where he was staying. “He is Israeli and I met him at the vegetable market. I drove fruit and vegetables to him and his family directly from Gaza. Our families also became fast friends,” he continues.
However, everything changed for him in October. “I was sleeping when suddenly my friend and another man I didn’t know burst into my room and started beating me with sticks.”
“Your people are killing us here and you are sleeping in our houses!” they shouted at Hussein while they let the dogs out. “They bit me and tore up my stomach and torso,” he recalls.
After ten minutes he managed to escape, but it took half an hour to get to safety. “I called another Israeli friend who came to pick me up. He took me to his friend’s house and I stayed there hid for 10 days without seeing the sun“, he adds. On October 18, he took a taxi and moved to the West Bank.
Hussein arrived in Ramallah, the capital of the West Bank, and decided to head north to Jenin, where they find hundreds of displaced Gazans in many centers run by the Palestinian Authority. Doctors Without Borders also works in these centers, providing medicines and psychological help. Some patients told the organization’s teams that they were Israeli forces after the conflict escalated detained, beaten, humiliated and abused.
“The people here are really kind. I didn’t expect it,” he admits. “But my family stayed in Gaza City. My wife and children live there. Sometimes I manage to get in touch with them by phone. He tells me what the situation is there. It’s scary. I just want to live in peace. We don’t want to bother anyone and we hope no one bothers us. We want a peaceful life alongside our families, children and grandchildren. I see Palestine as my country, wherever I am at that moment. I long to be reunited with my family in Gaza.”
Hussein believes that already he will never be able to return to Ashdod, the city where he used to work and live. “The situation will never be the same again,” he concludes.
*Name has been changed for confidentiality.
On November 6, one of our collaborators, Mohammed Al Ahela, died in Gaza, along with several members of his family. Mohammed worked as a laboratory technician for MSF for over two years. He was in his home in the Al Shate refugee camp during the bombing. It is clear that no place in Gaza is safe, according to the Ministry of Health, more than 10,000 people have already been killed in Gaza, of which more than 4,000 were children.
When informing, we rely on testimonies from the places where we directly operate. Therefore, we often cannot talk about what is happening on all sides of the conflict. We are currently helping in the Palestinian Territories, not in Israel, so we are mainly covering what is happening in the Gaza Strip right now. We have repeatedly offered Israel help – even after the brutal attacks by Hamas – but so far it has not taken up our offer.