Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has accused the Israeli army of attacking a marked evacuation convoy in Gaza on November 18. The attack resulted in the deaths of two relatives of MSF staff members, one of whom was a volunteer nurse at Shifa Hospital, according to an MSF press release dated December 1.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) responded to the accusation by stating that they recognize the special protections afforded to medical teams under international humanitarian law and take measures to prevent harm to them. The IDF also added that when attacking military targets, they take feasible precautions to mitigate civilian casualties.
According to MSF, their convoy was attacked after the Israeli army did not allow it to cross the last checkpoint near Wadi Gaza to reach the south. The convoy, “clearly identified as MSF vehicles,” was returning to its offices in Gaza City. MSF had initially informed both parties in the conflict that it was heading south and followed the itinerary indicated by the Israeli army.
The attack allegedly occurred near the MSF office in Gaza City as the convoy was returning in the late afternoon. An MSF staff member present in the convoy described seeing tanks and snipers on top of buildings pointing their guns at them. The staff member also reported witnessing a colleague being shot in the head and dying as a result of the attack.
Separately, MSF staff reported seeing five MSF vehicles and its clinic in Gaza City allegedly damaged by an Israeli bulldozer and a heavy military vehicle while they were taking shelter in the MSF offices.
MSF has requested an independent investigation and a formal explanation for the attack from the Israeli authorities. They also described attempts to evacuate again, saying that their vehicles were hit by bullets as they approached the MSF clinic and the evacuation was cancelled.
The organization’s statement concluded by expressing relief that their colleagues and their families were able to reach the south once the truce came into effect on November 24 due to the vehicles of other civilians who evacuated.