'PA doctors cut victim needlessly'

TA Doctors: Beach victim shouldn't have had all shrapnel removed from her body.

Gaza beach blast 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Gaza beach blast 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Representatives of the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov) said on Tuesday that Ralia Niham, a 21-year-old woman who was seriously wounded in the Gaza beach explosion on June 9 that is at the center of a continuing controversy over who is to blame, suffered unnecessary cuts at the hands of the Palestinian doctors who treated her initially. Niham, who regained consciousness at the hospital on Tuesday but remains in serious condition, suffered serious damage to her abdomen and upper limbs, with cuts all over her body, as a result of the surgical intervention performed on her at Shifa Hospital in Gaza, the hospital said. The Tel Aviv hospital added that no shrapnel was found in the woman's body except for one piece that is not reachable by surgery and will have to be left there. The damage to her body was "without doubt" caused by shrapnel; Israeli authorities say the chances are "one in a billion" that she was hurt by an Israeli missile. In most cases, some shrapnel remains in the victim's body and stays there for the rest of his or her life, the hospital said. The hospital stopped short of accusing Shifa's doctors directly of removing shrapnel for no medical reason, but it did say that it had never received such a patient with all the reachable shrapnel removed. "This is surprising and raises questions" about the care that Niham received in Shifa, the Sourasky spokeswoman said. Asked whether Sourasky surgeons had contacted Shifa doctors who treated the patient to ask the reason for the incisions to remove shrapnel, the spokeswoman said: "We are not in such close contact with Shifa. We received the medical report on the patient, and that's all." On Monday night, Human Rights Watch conceded that it could not contradict the IDF's exonerating findings regarding the explosion that wounded Niham and killed several members of a single family. HRW, along with the Palestinians, claimed the explosion was caused by Israeli shelling. Maj.-Gen. Meir Klifi, head of the IDF inquiry commission that cleared the IDF of responsibility for the blast, met with Marc Garlasco, a military expert from HRW who had claimed that the blast was caused by an IDF artillery shell. Garlasco agreed the explosion was most likely caused by unexploded Israeli ordnance left lying on the beach, a possibility also raised by the IDF. Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.