Image of a damaged wall in the MSF office in Gaza due to Israeli bombings.

How the Israeli army attacked Nasser Hospital

On the night of 14 to 15 February 2024, 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. After several weeks of intense fighting with Palestinian armed groups in Khan Younis, Israeli forces stormed the facility, which until then had been under siege.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff members working at the hospital were first-hand witnesses. Their accounts, corroborated by other sources, retrace the events leading up to the night of 14-15 February and the forced evacuation of the hospital. The evidence at our disposal points to deliberate and repeated attacks by the 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 the Al-Nasr Children’s Hospital in the north of Gaza.

Inside Nasser Hospital in Gaza, Palestine.
Photograph taken inside Nasser hospital, 13 March 2024

01 December 2023: Fighting resumed between the Israeli army and Hamas, ending a seven-day truce that began on 24 November.

17 December 2023: Maternity ward targeted. A 13-year-old girl was killed, with many casualties.

25 December 2023: Heavy bombing around Nasser following evacuation order of blocks 64 and 112 beside Nasser.

 Map of Nasser Hospital in Gaza.

8 January 2024: The Israeli army shelled 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.

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: Field report by Aurélie Godard, MSF medical team leader, and Léo Cans, MSF head of mission, following a visit to Nasser hospital

“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.”

Palestinian MSF doctors treat displaced people in Gaza.

Aurélie Godard recounts her visit to Nasser Hospital on 15 and 16 January 2024

Recorded on 21 March 2024: Aurélie Godard recounts her visit to Nasser Hospital.

18 January 2024: Nasser: Heavy bombing and tank shelling at night. Staff and patients are very scared.

On the same day, the Israeli army bombed 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 were aware of the presence of those teams on site. Following the attack, the EMT was forced to suspend its medical activities at Nasser Hospital.

21 January 2024: Nasser Hospital totally surrounded by troops. Heavy bombing and fighting all around the hospital.

23 January 2024: 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 tried to evacuate the hospital but were unable to do so. They reported gunfire and explosions all around the hospital.

25 January 2024: Nasser is 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.”

Image of Nasser Hospital attacked by Israeli Defence Forces in Gaza, Palestine.
Photograph of the attacked Nasser Hospital. Taken 13 March 2024.

26 January 2024: 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?”

Inside Nasser Hospital in Gaza, Palestine.
Photograph taken inside Nasser hospital, 13 March 2024. 

27 January 2024: Dr Ahmed Moghrabi, a surgeon at Nasser Hospital who is also working for MSF, describes conditions inside the hospital to several media outlets.

29 January 2024: WHO delivered medical supplies to Nasser Hospital.

30 January 2024: UNRWA sent fuel to Nasser.

06 February 2024: Heavy fighting in Khan Younis, near Nasser. Nasser Hospital is still under siege. 450 wounded, 300 medical personnel, 10 000 displaced.

08 February 2024: Nasser was surrounded by tanks. Snipers were shooting towards the hospital. One nurse was injured (a live bullet in the chest).

11 February 2024: Nasser was surrounded by tanks. Snipers shooting towards the hospital (one man was shot dead at the entrance of the hospital).

13 February 2024: Nasser: order of evacuation of IDPs [internally displaced people]. 402 patients, 35 on dialysis, 18 in the ICU, three neonates in the ICU, three to four women post-delivery, and just under 200 stretcher patients. Three people were killed and ten others injured by Israeli fire inside the Nasser medical complex.

That day, an Israeli military bulldozer destroyed the gate at the northern entrance of the hospital, followed by a tank. The soldiers on site ordered displaced people to leave the hospital. A handcuffed Palestinian prisoner wearing white personal protective equipment (PPE) was later sent to the hospital by the Israeli army to order displaced people to evacuate once again. Images available online, published by several media, show that he was then executed.

Night of 14 to 15 February 2024:

At night: shelling on the orthopaedic department of Nasser. One person killed, eight injured. Israeli forces entered Nasser's 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: 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.”

Image of destroyed Nasser Hospital in Gaza, bombed by the IDF.
Photograph taken in the streets in Khan Younis, near Nasser hospital, 13 March 2024. 

16 February 2024: Five patients died without appropriate healthcare due to the lack of electricity. Israeli forces arrested 20 people.

17 February 2024: Israeli forces still inside Nasser.

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

There was still an active combat zone around, ambulances couldn’t enter the compound, and patients were 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.”

Image of an overcrowded hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza, as IDF steps up with bombardment.

Update from Gaza - Guillemette Thomas, MSF Medical Coordinator

"As an MSF doctor, I'm asking for a stop to the bombing and unconditional access for humanitarian aid throughout Gaza so that we can look after the population and the patients." "As an MSF doctor, I'm asking for a stop to the bombing and unconditional access for humanitarian aid throughout Gaza so that we can look after the population and the patients." 

21 February 2024: 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.”

Inside Nasser Hospital in Gaza, Palestine. Destroyed by the Israeli Defence Force.
Photograph taken inside Nasser hospital, 13 March 2024. 

22 February 2024: 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:

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

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

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

MSF, Doctors Without Borders, A year in Pictures, Gaza, Palestine war

Here's what will happen if Israel attacks Rafah Hospital in Gaza.

The war in Gaza is still ongoing despite the recent United Nations Security Council-approved resolution for a ceasefire. In the last few days, Israeli forces have persisted in conducting heavy military operations in both the northern and southern areas of Gaza. In this, Léo Cans, MSF Head of Mission for Palestine, describes the situation in Rafah City and inside the hospital and explains the consequences an attack on Rafah will have.

According to the World Health Organization, 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.