Med­i­cal char­ity says ca­su­al­ties from bor­der protests have over­whelmed Gaza hos­pi­tals

The National - News - - NEWS - THE NA­TIONAL

A hu­man­i­tar­ian group said the num­ber of pa­tients treated for gun­shot wounds from months of vi­o­lent bor­der protests have over­whelmed Gaza’s health­care sys­tem.

Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders said thou­sands are in dan­ger of in­fec­tion and dis­abil­ity be­cause Gaza’s hos­pi­tals can­not ad­e­quately treat them.

Most of those hurt by live fire were shot in the legs, of­ten re­sult­ing in open frac­tures prone to in­fec­tion, the med­i­cal char­ity said. About 1,000 have in­fec­tions that could lead to am­pu­ta­tions or even death.

Gaza’s Ha­mas rulers have or­gan­ised weekly bor­der protests since March in which de­mon­stra­tors ap­proach the bor­der fence and chant slo­gans against Is­rael’s siege of the ter­ri­tory.

Is­raeli snipers have killed about 170 peo­ple and wounded thou­sands. Pales­tinian deaths from Is­raeli strikes and tank fire have risen to at least 220.

“This many pa­tients would over­stretch the best health­care sys­tems in the world. In Gaza, it is a crush­ing blow,” said Marie-Elis­a­beth In­gres, the char­ity’s chief for the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries. She said that wounded Pales­tini­ans should be al­lowed by Is­rael to leave the ter­ri­tory.

“The al­ter­na­tive – that thou­sands of pa­tients will be left to deal with ter­ri­ble in­juries, with many per­ma­nently dis­abled and de­pen­dent on their fam­i­lies – is un­con­scionable when ad­e­quate treat­ment is within the world’s grasp.”

The bor­der protests call for Pales­tini­ans’ re­turn to lands that are now in mod­ern-day Is­rael. In 1948, hun­dreds of thou­sands of Arabs were dis­placed dur­ing the birth of Is­rael as a state.

Ha­mas has sup­ported the ral­lies but Is­rael ac­cuses the mil­i­tant group of us­ing them as cover for cross-bor­der at­tacks.

Is­rael main­tains a tight block­ade of Gaza it says is nec­es­sary to iso­late the strip’s Ha­mas rulers.

Crit­ics say it amounts to col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment of Gaza’s two mil­lion res­i­dents.

Most of those hurt by live fire were shot in the legs, of­ten re­sult­ing in open frac­tures prone to in­fec­tion

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