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Médecins Sans Frontières Condemns Killing of Staff Members' Family in Israeli Offensive

Israeli forces, during a military operation in Al-Mawasi, targeted a house sheltering MSF workers and their families which resulted in the death of the daughter-in-law and wife of an MSF worker.
Destruction in the Gaza Strip. Photo: UNRWA/Mohammed Hinnawi

New Delhi: In a strongly worded statement, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has condemned the killing of two of its staff members’ family members during an Israeli offensive in Palestine’s Khan Younis. 

The incident, which occurred late on the evening of February 20, resulted in the death of a daughter-in-law and wife of an MSF colleague, with six others sustaining injuries, including women and children.

Israeli forces, during a military operation in Al-Mawasi, targeted a house sheltering MSF colleagues and their families. The attack extended beyond the residence, with bullets hitting the clearly marked MSF building, the organisation said in its statement.

The shelling in the area caused a delay of more than two hours for ambulance teams to reach the site. Eventually, the wounded were transported to the International Medical Corps Field hospital in Rafah, with some sustaining burn injuries.

Meinie Nicolai, MSF General Director, expressed outrage and deep sadness over the killings. 

“We are outraged and deeply saddened by these killings…On the same day the United States chose to veto an immediate ceasefire, two daughters saw their mother and sister-in-law killed by an Israeli tank shell. These killings underscore the grim reality that nowhere in Gaza is safe, that promises of safe areas are empty and deconfliction mechanisms unreliable,” she said.

“The amount of force being used in densely populated urban environments is staggering, and targeting a building knowing it is full of humanitarian workers and their families is unconscionable,” Nicolai added.

At the time of the attack, 64 people were sheltering in the house and Israeli forces were regularly informed of MSF teams’ presence in specific locations. Despite this, no evacuation orders were issued before the strike. MSF has sough further explanation from Israeli authorities over the unprovoked attack.

This incident follows a previous attack on an MSF shelter in Rafah. MSF teams are currently providing support to those who survived the Al-Mawasi attack and the families of those who were killed. The organisation has lost five staff members since the beginning of the war, it said in its statement.

MSF also reiterated its call for an immediate and sustained ceasefire in Gaza. 

More than 29,000 people in Gaza have been killed while many more have been injured since the start of the war on October 7 last year. WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called Gaza a “death zone” in a recent press briefing in Geneva and said that “this figure will rise the longer the war goes on and supplies [are] interrupted”.

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