APRIL 5, 2018—Clinics operated by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) have provided postoperative care to 102 patients who suffered gunshot wounds during recent demonstrations in the Gaza Strip. MSF is increasing its capacity in the event more people are wounded in further demonstrations.
On March 30, thousands of Palestinians participated in a demonstration in Gaza called "March of Return" on the occasion of "Land Day." According to the Ministry of Health (MoH) in the Gaza Strip, 1,415 people, mainly young men, were injured, with 758 shot by Israel Defense Forces.
Over four days, a total of 102 people with gunshot wounds to the lower extremities were admitted to three medical facilities where MSF provides specialized medical care for trauma and burns. All had first been treated in facilities run by the MoH.
More than 35 percent of the patients suffered fractures that will require long-term treatment, which could include several surgeries and long rehabilitation periods. The rest suffered soft tissue injuries, mainly in muscle tissue, and they may also require surgical care and several weeks of dressing changes.
"We had already faced a worrying increase in the number of people shot by Israel Defense Forces at the border since December 2017, during Palestinian demonstrations following U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel," said Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, MSF representative in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. "The number of trauma patients rose from 20 per month before November 2017 to 20 per week."
MSF is ready to open a new consultation room in one public health facility in Gaza, to increase the capacity for postoperative care, including specialized nursing care and wound dressings.
MSF is in close contact with the medical staff of the MoH and also is able to support local hospitals with specialized surgical teams, to ensure longer follow-up for patients.
MSF has also donated medical materials and medicines to treat more than 100 injured patients to the MoH.
"We are worried that more people might need care in our clinics in the coming days, as more patients will be referred from hospitals," said Ingres. "We also fear that more violence will occur and that more people will be wounded during the next demonstration scheduled for Friday, April 6, as well subsequent events planned until May 15."