When Ayman woke up, he was lying in a hospital bed in a stark and unfamiliar room. He had been admitted to the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Gaza after he was shot during a protest along the boundary fence with Israel. The last thing he remembered was being prepped for surgery. “I didn’t know about the infection in the bone until I came here,” he said. “I came out of the operation and found myself in isolation.”
Ayman is one of the more than one thousand people in Gaza suffering from severe bone infections after being shot by the Israeli army during demonstrations over the past year and a half, according to MSF estimates. The demonstrations, which began on March 30, 2018, have become a weekly routine of bloodshed. More than 7,400 Palestinians have been injured by live ammunition, with around half suffering from open fractures, in which there is an open wound near a broken bone.
“When you have an open fracture, you need lots of things to get better: different types of surgery, physiotherapy, and avoiding the wound becoming infected, which is a high risk with these types of injuries,” explained Aulio Castillo, MSF’s medical team leader in Gaza. “Unfortunately, for many of our patients who have been shot, the severity and complexity of their wounds—combined with the severe shortage of treatments for them in Gaza—means they have now developed chronic infections. What’s more, we’re finding in preliminary testing that many of these people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.”