MAP dismayed by loss of life, responding to high number of casualties in Gaza

Bethlehem /PNN/

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) is deeply dismayed by the terrible loss of life and large number of injuries in Gaza due to the use of live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas by Israeli forces targeting Palestinian protesters.

Yesterday, the bloodiest day in Gaza since Israel’s 2014 offensive, marked the Palestinian ‘Land Day’, the first event in the ‘March of Return’ – a series of mass peaceful protests leading up to the 70th anniversary of the 1948 ‘Nakba’, on 15 May. Israel’s military positioned more than 100 snipers on the border with Gaza ahead of the planned demonstrations. A Palestinian farmer was reported to have been killed near the border by Israeli artillery fire just hours before the protests began.

According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza yesterday, 15 Palestinians have been killed and 1,416 injured by Israeli forces. Of all those injured, around 750 were hit by live ammunition, with 20 people reported to be in a critical condition. No Israeli casualties have been reported.

At least two Palestinian men are believed to be critically injured or killed and requiring evacuation, but are currently inaccessible to rescue teams.

The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called for an independent and transparent investigation into the deaths and injuries. Israel has failed to adequately cooperate with previous international investigations into the conduct of its security forces.

Gaza’s hospitals, already beleaguered by longstanding shortages of medical supplies, electricity and fuel, have been overwhelmed by the influx of such a large number of patients over the course of just a few hours.

MAP has responded rapidly to the unravelling situation, releasing prepositioned emergency medicines and consumables, including antibiotics and analgesics, and a shipment of limb reconstruction items to hospitals in Gaza.

Our limb reconstruction programme is playing a critical role in the treatment of injuries. In the immediate aftermath of Israel’s offensive in 2014, building on a project started the previous year with our partner IDEALS, MAP sent a team of orthopaedic surgeons from King’s College Hospital in London to Gaza. There, they began conducting vital operations for patients, and training a local team of limb reconstruction specialists, including surgeons, theatre technicians and nurses.

Their regular visits since 2014 led to the establishment of Gaza’s first dedicated Limb Reconstruction Unit at the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, with more recent support for a second unit at European Gaza Hospital in the south. Through this project, we have also helped to train Palestinian physiotherapists, who will play an essential role in helping people to recover better from their injuries and regain mobility and functioning.

A member of the limb reconstruction team in Gaza said today that they will be managing many of the cases that have just been admitted to hospital for many years to come.