Middle East

Medical workers ‘trapped’ in hospital and unable to reach wounded during Israeli operation in West Bank, MSF chief says

By Kareem Khadder and David Shortell, CNN

CNN  — 

The head of Médecins Sans Frontières said Tuesday that he had been “trapped” with staff inside a hospital in the occupied West Bank’s Jenin refugee camp amid an ongoing Israeli raid in the densely populated area.

Two Palestinians died from their wounds after ambulances could not reach them, he said.

“For two hours, we were not able to leave to provide care and people could not reach us, as Israeli military vehicles blocked the entrance of the hospital and the road, preventing ambulances from leaving,” Christos Christou said in a post on X, the social media platform.

“There’s nothing worse for a doctor to know that there are people there needing our care and they cannot get it,” he said.

Video obtained by CNN shows military vehicles inside the city near the refugee camp and the sounds of heavy gunfire. A spokesman for the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) Jenin reported evacuating at least three people with gunshot wounds and said that Jenin’s three main hospitals were surrounded by Israeli forces.

The half-square kilometer camp, home to more than 17,000 Palestinian refugees, has long been a flashpoint for violence in the West Bank, with Israel alleging that terrorists operate within the district.

At least 14 Palestinians were killed in the camp earlier this month in an operation that the IDF said was meant to “thwart terrorist infrastructure” and to demolish the home of a man who allegedly killed an off-duty Israeli soldier over the summer. Over the weekend, five Palestinians were killed in Jenin during another Israeli incursion, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Tuesday that they were “conducting counterterrorism activities in the area” and that the activity is expected to continue overnight.

Christos Christou, international president of the medical humanitarian aid organization Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres), speaks during an interview in Tokyo on June 26, 2023. (Photo by Kyodo News via Getty Images)

PRCS Jenin spokesman Mahmoud Al-Saadi told CNN that the Israeli military had “surrounded all three major hospitals in Jenin: Jenin government hospital, Ibn Sina hospital and Al-Razi hospital and checks every ambulance going to or from these hospitals.”

“We have evacuated three gunshot injuries to hospitals tonight and the situation is very difficult, with heavy gunfire and clashes and we can hear explosions in the distance,” Al-Saadi said.

Al-Saadi said an injured “special needs man in his twenties” was taken out of an ambulance and arrested by Israeli forces in the city earlier Tuesday.

The man had been shot in the leg and while paramedics attempted to transport him to the Jenin Government Hospital, he was arrested by the Israeli military, Al-Saadi said.

The PRCS’s emergency medical services team attending to the injured man were also held for about an hour in front of the hospital by the Israeli military, he said.

“The Israeli military stopped the ambulance for around one hour in front of the hospital” before taking the injured man away in an Israeli military ambulance, Al-Saadi said.

Israel’s war with Hamas has increasingly spilled over into the West Bank with settler attacks and clashes leaving hundreds of Palestinians dead.

At least 240 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops or Israeli settlers in the West Bank and east Jerusalem since October 7, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

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