Doctors in the Gaza Strip were forced to amputate the legs of two Palestinians who were wounded in border clashes with IDF forces, after Israel refused to allow their transfer to a West Bank hospital, two left-wing NGOs said.
The Adalah and Al Mezan organizations said Yousef Karnaz, 20, and Mohammad Al-Ajouri, 17, were both shot and wounded when tens of thousands of Gazans converged near the border with Israel on March 30 for the first in a series of planned protests that led to bloody confrontations.
The organizations said Gaza doctors did not have the proper equipment to treat the two. The groups filed a petition in Israel’s top court on Sunday demanding that authorities allow them to exit the Strip to get urgent treatment in a better-equipped hospital in Ramallah to save their legs.
It came after an earlier request to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli body responsible for coordination with Palestinians, was ignored, the groups said in a statement.
But on Monday the Supreme Court gave the state three days to respond, forcing Gazan doctors to amputate one of each of the men’s legs, the statement added.
The state responded that while the men fulfilled the medical criteria required to get approval, they were denied entry because their injuries “stemmed directly from their participation in the riots.”
The Supreme Court was said scheduled to discuss the case again on Thursday, since the second leg of one of the men is still in danger of amputation.
“The amputation of the two young men’s legs could have been prevented if the state had complied with its obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law,” said attorney Sawsan Zaher of Adalah in the statement. “The state’s response indicates that Israel’s policy is to prevent those in danger of losing organs from leaving Gaza for medical treatment, in order to punish them for participating in a non-violent protest.”
Israel’s policy “may constitute cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and/or torture under the UN Convention Against Torture,” the two groups claimed.
Israeli forces have killed 32 Palestinians and wounded thousands since March 30, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry figures, in mass protests that the Palestinians dub the “March of the Return.” Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seeks to destroy Israel, has acknowledged that several of those killed were its members.
Israel says it opens fire when necessary to stop damage to the border fence, infiltrations and attempted attacks. It alleges that Hamas, whose leaders have said the demonstrations are ultimately aimed at erasing the border and liberating Palestine, is seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out violence.
Last Friday, during the second week of a series of events set to culminate on May 15, about 20,000 Palestinians demonstrated along the Gaza border in what Israel has described as a riot orchestrated by Hamas, and what Palestinians say was supposed to be a peaceful protest.
Israel’s army spokesman Ronen Manelis specified that evening that eight explosive devices and numerous petrol bombs were thrown during the day, and that the IDF faced several attempts “to cut through the fence…. There were attempts to carry out acts of terrorism … using the smoke [from burning tires] for cover,” Manelis said.