Gaza: MSF teams observe unusually severe and devastating gunshot injuries

The number of patients treated in MSF clinics over the last three weeks is more than the number treated throughout all of 2014

Friday, April 20, 2018 — Since 1 April 2018, medical humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has provided post-operative care to more than 500 people in Gaza injured by gunshots during the March of Return demonstrations. The number of patients treated in our clinics over these last three weeks is more than the number we treated throughout all of 2014, when Israel’s military Operation Protective Edge was launched over the Gaza strip.

MSF surgeons in Gaza report devastating gunshot wounds among hundreds of people injured during the protests of the recent weeks. The vast majority of patients – mainly young men, but also some women and children – have severe wounds to the lower extremities. MSF medical teams note the unusual injuries include an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wound that can be up to the size of a fist.

“Half of the more than 500 patients we have admitted to our clinics have injuries where the bullet has literally destroyed tissue after having pulverized the bone”, said Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, MSF Head of Mission in Palestine. “These patients will need to have very complex surgical operations and most of them will have disabilities for life.”

As well as regular nursing care, patients will often need additional surgery, physiotherapy and rehabilitation. Some patients may need amputation if they are not provided with sufficient care in Gaza and are not authorised to be treated outside of the strip.

To respond to the massive influx of patients, MSF has increased the number of beds in its post-operative clinics and recruited and trained additional medical staff. A fourth clinic will open soon in the Middle-Area region of Gaza to provide patients with specialised care.

MSF has also deployed a team of surgeons (including vascular, orthopaedic and reconstructive surgeons) and anaesthetists to operate, or re-operate, on the most severe cases. This team currently works side-by-side with Palestinian medical staff in Al-Shifa and Al-Aqsa public hospitals.

Medical teams in Gaza's hospitals are preparing to face a possible new influx of wounded today in the latest of the March of Return demonstrations.