Doctors from the NGO Physicians for Human Rights volunteering at a hospital in Gaza.
(photo credit: PHYSICIANS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS)
NGO Physicians for Human Rights Israel sent eight Israeli- Arab doctors to Gaza to help those injured in the Friday protests.
The doctors’ delegation entered the blockaded Gaza Strip on Thursday, staying for two days there, according to Dr. Salah Haj Yahya, the director of the organization’s mobile clinics.
Yahya estimates that hundreds of protesters were seriously injured in the arms and legs due to gunshot and shrapnel wounds by the Israel Defense Forces during demonstrations taking place over the past two weeks.
“They’ll need orthopedic surgeries, possibly blood transfusions,” said Yahya, who spoke to The Jerusalem Post
from Gaza. “Especially to prevent amputations, since there are also bad infections. We have to do it at a quick pace. And the number of doctors here, it’s not enough.”
During the protests over the past three weeks, IDF soldiers shot dead some 30 Palestinians – according to Gaza medical officials – along with wounding approximately 1,300 by live ammunition, many of whom approached the Gaza border fence.
While Palestinian participants claim that the protests were nonviolent, the IDF has uploaded videos showing people throwing Molotov cocktails and burning tires, while gunmen and other persons tried to harm the border fence.
Hamas has identified several of those killed as members, while Israel claims others were affiliated with terrorist groups as well.
On average, Physicians for Human Rights organizes a monthly delegation to cross the Gaza border and provide medical treatment to Gazabased Palestinians. The current delegation includes surgeons, pediatricians, general practitioners and mental health specialists.
“We’re currently at Shifa Hospital [in Gaza City] and our group is split up at different hospitals around Gaza,” Yahya said. We perform surgeries, bring equipment, perform check-ups. And the Palestinian doctors aren’t allowed to go out of Gaza to medical conferences. So in our visit, we visit them and we offer medical training and updates.”
The doctors also bring badly needed medical equipment, supplies that are strictly rationed due to the Egyptian- Israeli blockade over the hostile territory. Some provisions in short supply include metal rods for surgery to fuse fractures, blood thinners, vitamins and sewing threads for operating rooms, and insulin syringes – some of which were gathered by Israeli volunteers through Facebook.
Yahya also blasted Egypt and Israel’s decade-long blockade, saying that it has decimated the Palestinian healthcare system and that the medical profession is one of the “main victims.”
While Gaza hospitals have recommended that 1,400 patients in dire condition be transferred to east Jerusalem and Ramallah hospitals, Physicians for Human Rights said that Israel is slowing down the process with unnecessary bureaucracy.
On Thursday, another leftwing NGO, Adalah, filed a petition at the High Court of Justice to allow two wounded Gazan youth to leave the Strip and get medical treatment at a West Bank hospital. Amid the hold-up, doctors have had to amputate their legs.