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Repeated violence and movement restrictions affect MSF staff and patients in Nablus, Palestine
A raid by Israeli forces in the Old city of Nablus killed 11 Palestinians and injured over 100 on February 22, 2023. Later, when two settlers were shot and killed on February 26th in the Nablus suburb of Huwara, Israeli forces closed access to the city. That night, settlers set fire to Palestinian property including cars, houses and shops, injuring over 400 more people and killing one, per a Palestine Red Crescent report.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides mental health services in Nablus and donated medical equipment and emergency kits to a local clinic and hospital following the incidents. However, these repeated events affect both MSF operations and the mental health of Palestinian residents. Movement restrictions in the city limit access to MSF services for residents, who fear for their safety when leaving their homes. Road closures also affect MSF staff trying to reach their workplace. “Checkpoints around Nablus are closed as a result of Sunday’s violence, which on Monday kept our staff from going to the nearby city of Qalqilya, where we also provide mental health services,” Tareq Zaid, MSF Field Coordinator in Nablus said. Nablus residents, already affected by increasing insecurity, must now contend with an uptick in blockades in the first months of 2023 as violence increases throughout the West Bank, reaching levels not seen since 2000. “All this disturbs people’s personal lives: one of our staff was also not able to return to her home in Ramallah on February 26.”
Linda Gaouaou, MSF Head of Mission, said that frequent military operations affect MSF operations. “Within less than a week, the city of Nablus experienced two incidents that have kept our patients from accessing our clinics and affected our staff. These incidents reflect the norm of the past few months: a state of permanent tension in which the population has to navigate its life around recurring city closures by Israeli forces.