Around 1,000 Palestinians shot by Israeli forces during months of Hamas-spurred border clashes have infections that could leave them permanently crippled, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Thursday, labeling it a “slow-motion healthcare emergency.”
Around 6,000 Palestinians have been shot by Israeli forces during often violent demonstrations encouraged by Gaza’s Hamas terrorist rulers along the border with Israel since March, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in the Strip.
MSF, which has provided care for thousands of Palestinians since the protests began, said the healthcare systems in Gaza were being overwhelmed by the number of cases and the often complicated treatments needed.
Most of those hurt by live fire were shot in the legs, often resulting in open fractures prone to infection, MSF said.
Around 1,000 have infections that could lead ultimately to amputations or even death.
“This many patients would overstretch the best healthcare systems in the world. In Gaza, it is a crushing blow,” Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, MSF’s chief for the Palestinian territories, said in a statement.
The NGO called on Israel to allow those injured out of the blockaded strip for necessary treatment and for governments to offer their medical facilities for the wounded.
“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,” it said.
Israel maintains a tight blockade of Gaza, which it says is necessary to isolate Hamas, which openly seeks to destroy Israel, and to keep the terror group from obtaining weapons or material that could be used to make them. Critics say it amounts to collective punishment of the two million residents.
The border protests have been backed by Hamas, which has fought three wars against Israel since seizing control of Gaza in 2007. Rioters have tried to breach the border fence, clashed with Israeli troops, opened fire in several cases, and planted explosive devices at the border.
Protesters are calling for Palestinian refugees to be able to “return” to their former homes, now inside Israel, as well as a lifting of the Egyptian and Israeli blockades of the coastal enclave. Israel rejects the demand for a “right of return” for millions of Palestinians as an effort to destroy the Jewish state via weight of numbers.
Israel says Hamas has been seeking to use the protests as cover to carry out infiltrations and attacks, and that its actions are necessary to defend the border.
Israeli fire has killed more than 170 Palestinians at the clashes since they began in March, according to The Associated Press. Dozens of the dead were members of Hamas and other terrorist groups.
Two Israeli soldiers were killed over the same period, one by a Palestinian sniper and another during an Israeli special forces operation then went awry within the Gaza Strip.