MSF: 1,000 Gazans Shot by Israel at Risk of Fatal Infection

Palestinians taking part in the Great March of Return. (Photo: Abdallah Aljamal, Palestine Chronicle)

International medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) has said that more than 1,000 Gazans shot by Israel are at risk of infection, which could lead to permanent disabilities or death.

In a statement released today, MSF said that “the huge numbers of patients with complex and serious gunshot wounds are overwhelming the healthcare system in Gaza”, meaning their wounds often go untreated.

This “could lead to lifelong disability for many, and untreated infections pose the risk of amputation or even death”, MSF added.

MSF emphasized that the crisis was caused by the severity of the wounds inflicted by Israel’s policy of “shoot to maim” during the Great March of Return protests. The charity explained:

“The vast majority of the 3,117 patients treated by MSF between 30 March and 31 October – out of the total 5,866 the [Gaza] Ministry of Health says have been injured by live fire – had been shot in the leg. Around half suffered open fractures, with severe soft tissue damage to many of the rest.”

“These are complex and serious injuries that do not quickly heal,” MSF added, saying: “Their severity and the lack of appropriate treatment in Gaza’s crippled health system means that infection is a high risk.”

MSF stressed that the situation was tantamount to a “slow-motion healthcare emergency,” with MSF’s Head of Mission in Palestine Marie-Elisabeth Ingres saying that:

“These many patients would overstretch [even] the best healthcare systems in the world.”

Although “Gaza currently lacks the ability to properly diagnose bone infections”, MSF estimates that 25 percent of patients with fractures is infected – amounting to more than 1,000 Gazans.

To combat the crisis, MSF called on “authorities in Palestine and Israel to facilitate the transfer of these patients abroad [and] for other countries in the region and around the globe to step forward and offer funding and space in their hospitals.”

Since the Great March of Return began on March 30, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHAoPt) estimates that 150 Palestinians have been killed and a further 21,000 injured. OCHA’s figures only account for the period March 30 to October 4, meaning the latest figures are likely to be higher. Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem estimates that more than 180 protesters have been killed, including at least 31 minors.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

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