By Middle East Affairs
Medical teams are calling the wounds suffered by Israeli fire at the Gaza border so severe that it amounts to “destruction.”
Palestinians began the “Great March of Return” protests March 30 along the Gaza-Israel border to demonstrate their desire for humanitarian aid and the right to return to their homeland. Israeli troops have been posted along the border with snipers, and when a protester draws near, the soldiers have permission to fire.
More than 1,700 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been wounded by live fire since the demonstrations began. That 1,700 makes up about 36 percent of the 5,000 who have been injured also by tear gas, smoke inhalation and rubber bullets. At least 35 Palestinians have also been killed by Israeli fire.
Doctors in the area are saying they haven’t seen wounds like this since Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014. The aid group Doctors Without Borders released a report April 19 that said patients have “devastating injuries of an unusual severity, which are extremely complex to treat. The injuries sustained by patients will leave most with serious, long-term physical disabilities.”
The organization went on to say that the injuries “include an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist.”
Doctors Without Borders has treated 500 Palestinian patients with live bullet wounds.
Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, head of the organization’s mission in Palestine, said in the report: “Half of the more than 500 patients we have admitted in our clinics have injuries where the bullet has literally destroyed tissue after having pulverized the bone. These patients will need to have very complex surgical operations and most of them will have disabilities for life.”
The report concludes with: “Apart from regular nursing care, patients will often need additional surgery, and undergo a very long process of physiotherapy and rehabilitation. A lot of patients will keep functional deficiencies for the rest of their life. Some patients may yet need amputation if not provided with sufficient care in Gaza and if they don’t manage to get the necessary authorization to be treated outside of the strip.”
Another group, Medical Aid for Palestinians, has voiced similar observations. One surgeon told the group: “The bullets used are causing injuries local medics say they have not seen since 2014. The entrance wound is small. The exit wound is devastating, causing gross comminution of bone and destruction of soft tissue.”
Israel has faced criticism from the global community for its method of protecting the borders during the “Great March of Return” protests. Israel, however, blames Hamas, the armed Islamist group that controls Gaza, and maintains that most of the Palestinians killed during the protests have been militants trying to ignite violence.