A medical aid group said the vast number of Palestinians treated for gunshot wounds from months of violent border protests have overwhelmed Gaza's health care system. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) stated that thousands are in danger of infection and disability because Gaza hospitals cannot adequately treat them.
MSF, as the aid group is known after its French acronym, said most of the 3,000 patients it has treated were shot in the legs, with about a quarter suffering from infections. If left untreated, they can lead to lifelong disabilities or limb amputations.
In addition, struggling to cope with high Palestinian casualties due to the Israeli cycle of violence, hospitals in the blockaded Gaza Strip face severe suffering by medical staff and patients in the face of cutbacks and funding crises, the United Nations warned earlier this month.
The humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territories is deteriorating further as hospitals struggle to cope with many casualties after protests on the Gaza-Israel border began on March 30. Since the rallies began, more than 220 Palestinians have been killed, and thousands more were injured by Israeli troops deployed along the other side of the buffer zone. Israel was criticized by a U.N. human rights body for its killing of protesters in Gaza and treatment of Palestinians, declaring it a "war crime" under the Statute of Rome.
Gaza's health system of 13 public hospitals and 14 clinics run by NGOs has buckled under persistent blockade-linked shortages of medicines and surgical supplies. Due to the ongoing increase in the number of patients, the Al-Shifa hospital was obliged to postpone about 8,000 surgical operations for cancer, heart disease and other diseases.
Israel controls all access to and from the Gaza Strip apart from the Palestinian enclave's crossing with Egypt. Hamas is in power in the strip and has fought three wars with Israel since 2008. Under an Israeli blockade for more than 10 years, Gaza lacks essential infrastructure and key medical equipment. Many patients seek to travel elsewhere for treatment.
Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade that has gutted its economy and deprived its roughly 2 million inhabitants of many vital commodities, including food, fuel and medicine. In the long-embargoed enclave, the humanitarian situation has grown steadily worse each day.