By Jason Chernock, Director of Programs and Partnerships
On October 7th, in the early morning hours, Israel suffered a devastating terrorist attack at the hands of armed Hamas militants. Hamas launched thousands of rockets toward Israel and breached through the perimeter fence of Gaza at multiple locations. Members of Hamas entered Israeli towns, communities, and military facilities near the Gaza Strip, killing and kidnapping both civilians and members of Israeli armed forces. As a result, the Israeli military declared a state of war and began an extensive bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip.
Two and half weeks after the initial attack, there are over 1,400 confirmed Israeli fatalities, over 5,400 injured, and an estimated 60,000–300,000 displaced individuals. Within Gaza there are over 6,500 confirmed Palestinian fatalities and over 17,000 injured. The Israeli government has instituted a siege over the Gaza Strip, cutting off the supply of electricity, water, food and fuel. As a result, over 1 million Palestinians have left their homes to seek shelter and refuge, and the health system in Gaza has collapsed. With no end in sight, and the prospect of an ever-widening conflict across the region, there is a humanitarian crisis developing in real time.
What is not as readily obvious is the toll this conflict has taken on each of us personally. The Chronicle of Philanthropy highlighted the challenges facing nonprofit leaders as their own families and staff have been personally impacted by this crisis. Our organization, MedShare, has not been immune from these challenges. Staff, board members, and supporters have been in constant contact with family and friends in both Israel and Gaza, seeking reassurance of their relative safety and well-being. Team members turn off their cameras during Zoom meetings, as the emotionality of the moment is too much to share on-screen. Colleagues take extra precaution in their discussion of the conflict, as every word carries so much meaning, and can be so easily misinterpreted.
What is MedShare’s responsibility during a global crisis that affects us both professionally and personally? Now, as always, we turn to our mission to guide our actions. MedShare’s mission is to improve the quality of life for people, communities, and our planet. We do this by collecting donations of life-saving surplus medical supplies and equipment and redistributing them to communities in need around the world. As a humanitarian organization committed to the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence, we deliver aid to all who need it.
How is MedShare responding:
- After careful deliberation and assessment, MedShare has activated our disaster response protocol.
- MedShare has compiled a product needs list based on requests from non-government organizational (NGO) partners on the ground in Israel and Gaza, and we will continually update the list as we assess both immediate and long-term needs.
- Our procurement team is reaching out to our product partners to request disaster relief supplies.
- Anyone traveling to the region to provide humanitarian assistance and/or medical care can apply to receive up to 100 pounds of medical supplies from our primary care supply center.
- MedShare is coordinating an initial shipment of aid to our Israeli nonprofit partner organization who is distributing medical supplies to people and communities in need across the country.
- MedShare is in discussion around additional partnerships with peer NGOs to provide humanitarian relief in Gaza and across the region.
In the past 12 years alone, MedShare has responded to over 27 disasters across 37 countries, serving over 8 million people with over $50 million dollars in humanitarian aid, thanks to the generous support of our partners and donors. This has included the global coronavirus pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and natural disasters across both the United States and around the world.
And yet, the humanitarian crisis taking place across Israel and Gaza has challenged us to once again refocus on our role as a humanitarian organization. Our hearts break for the loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives, and we will continue to prioritize the people and families caught living through the repercussions of this conflict for as long as necessary.
To donate to MedShare’s humanitarian response in Israel and Gaza, click here. Or visit MedShare.org for more information on our disaster relief and other programs designed to supply humanitarian aid to resource challenged areas here in the U.S. and around the world.