Occupied Palestinian Territory

Ongoing tensions have resulted in tremendous mental health needs

The human toll of the latest Gaza war is appalling. 

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Tensions mounted between Israel and Palestine in June 2014.

Operation Protective Edge was launched in the Gaza Strip on 8 July, leaving 2,286 Palestinians dead (25 percent were children), over 11,000 injured and 3,000 with permanent disabilities.

A ceasefire was declared on 26 August, but of the 500,000 people displaced, 54,000 have still not been able to return home.

We first worked in Palestine in 1989, responding to victims of conflict and providing medical care for displaced people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.



We first worked in Palestine in 1989, responding to victims of conflict and providing medical care for displaced people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

REad a full account of our response to the israel-gaza conflict


MSF’s work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: 2016

MSF provides medical and psychological assistance to people affected by the ongoing conflict in Palestine.

In 2016, we continued our long-running mental health programmes on the West Bank and support to victims of burns and trauma in the Gaza Strip.


West Bank

At the beginning of 2016, there was an upsurge in violence in the West Bank. Although the situation had calmed by March, the H2 area of Hebron city (which is highly militarised) saw frequent confrontations.

Our patients have been been exposed to various critical events, including:

  • Witnessing violence.
  • Raids on their homes.
  • Arrests (of themselves or family members).
  • Deaths (of family members).

In consequence, many have developed mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and sleeping problems.


We run mental health programmes in Hebron, Nablus, Qalqilva, Bethlehem and Ramallah governorates – offering psychological and social support to victims of political violence. In 2016, 4,141 new patients benefited from individual and group mental health sessions (over 70 percent of which were in Hebron).

Our team marked 20 years of working in Hebron with a series of public events. These highlighted the importance of mental health services in Palestine, including: multimedia activities, plays, and presentations of personal stories by patients.

In addition to this, our team:

  • Provided training for medical staff, teachers and counsellors.
  • Opened an innovative emergency response project in April (covering Bethlehem and Ramallah governorates) – focusing on psychological first aid and psychoeducational support.
  • Started a partnership with An-Najah University (Nablus) to launch the first Master’s degree in clinical psychology in Palestine.
  • Supported the burns unit of Rafidya hospital (Nablus), focusing on moderate to severe cases through a multidisciplinary approach (psychological, medical and social).



We have three burns and trauma centres in the Gaza Strip: Gaza City, Khan Younis and Bet Lahyia (which opened in July 2016). The majority of our patients had burns, usually the result of domestic accidents in conflict-damaged homes. 

Across our centres, we:

  • Treated over 4,231 patients (mostly children).
  • Dressed over 52,000 wounds.
  • Conducted more than 36,000 physiotherapy sessions.
  • Conducted over 1,000 occupational therapy sessions.
  • Carried out a burns awareness campaign – reaching over 35,500 children in schools, kindergartens and nurseries.

In conjunction with the Ministry of Health, we run surgical programmes in Al Shifa and Nasser hospitals. We completed 275 surgical interventions (71 percent on children under 16).

Complex surgical cases which cannot be handled in Gaza are referred to Jordan, at our reconstructive surgery hospital. However, due to administrative delays, only nine out of 77 patients were successfully referred in 2016.

Find out more in our International Activity Report


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