Gaza update: 10 Palestinians killed and hundreds injured, MAP’s team responding

Update from Gaza, Saturday 7 April: The Ministry of Health in Gaza has now updated its casualty figures for Friday, and reports that 10 people were killed and 1,356 injured.

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) continues to condemn the killing and injuring of unarmed civilians, as Israel again responded violently to the Great Return March protests on Friday 6 April.

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On Friday evening, the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Gaza reported that eight Palestinians had been killed and 1,356 injured by Israeli forces. As on the first day of the Great Return March protests (30 March), a large number of these injuries were reported to have been caused by live ammunition, as well as rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas. The majority of gunshot wounds have been to lower limbs, causing severe orthopaedic injury (shattered bones) and vascular injuries.

Late on Friday evening, there were reports that a ninth Palestinian had been killed, a journalist called Yaser Murtaja who was apparently wearing a clearly-labelled 'press' vest when he was shot with live ammunition. There were again no reports of injuries to Israeli soldiers or civilians.

The MoH has also reported on life-threatening injuries to Palestinians resulting from “less lethal” weapons. One patient received to the Neurosurgery Department at Al Shifa Hospital suffered a serious head and brain injury, including multiple fractures, appearing to result from the use of a ”bean bag” round which had become embedded in his skull.

Hospitals in Gaza are also suffering a “drastic deficit” in medical disposables and essential drugs according to a statement released by the MoH on Friday afternoon, who reported shortages to medicines needed in emergency departments, operating theatres and intensive care units, as well as a lack of the human resources (qualified vascular and orthopaedic surgeons) needed to save the lives and limbs of casualties including.

The current influx of casualties are being treated in a healthcare system which the WHO warned was already “on the brink of collapse” before the protests, with 42% of essential medicines completely depleted, as well as shortages of electricity and fuel for generators.

Describing the situation in Gaza’s hospitals, MAP’s Director of Programmes in Gaza, Fikr Shalltoot, said: “Though we hoped for fewer casualties than the previous week’s awful events, today has been another bloody Friday in Gaza. Even before the protests began, the health system here was close to collapse, with hospitals suffering severe shortages of medicines, equipment, and even electricity and generator fuel to keep the lights on. Now we hear that even the most basic supplies like saline are running out.

“Medical staff are overwhelmed and exhausted, but continue to do all they can to care for the mass casualties they are receiving. Until the blockade is lifted and the rights due to Palestinians are granted, the situation will not improve. Meanwhile, MAP continues to do all it can to help support those treating the many injured.”

MAP’s permanent team in Gaza have been responding directly to the increased medical needs resulting from violence used against protesters. CEO Aimee Shalan described how we are helping, but warned much more support will be needed:

“Our team in Gaza has responded rapidly to the mass casualties resulting from Israel’s use of extreme force, addressing immediate priorities and unmet needs. We have released emergency medicines and consumables, including antibiotics and analgesics to local hospitals. We have also provided limb reconstruction surgical equipment, crucial for treating the large number of protesters with lower-limb injuries resulting from the widespread use of live ammunition.

“Many of these patients will need specialist support for years to come. With the shockingly high casualty rate, however, much more support is needed, and we are appealing for additional funds to help meet the high demands.”

Please support MAP’s vital work as we respond to the mass casualties in Gaza:

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Calls for investigation and accountability grow, absent support from UK

Meanwhile, calls have continued to grow for independent investigation into the killing of unarmed Palestinian protesters, in addition to previous calls by UN Secretary General António Guterres and the European Union’s Foreign Affairs representative, Federica Mogherini. On Friday Morning, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a statement saying “echo[ing] the call by the UN Secretary-General for an independent and transparent investigation into these incidents, with a view to holding accountable those responsible,” further stating: “We remind Israel of its obligations to ensure that excessive force is not employed against protestors and that in the context of a military occupation, as is the case in Gaza, the unjustified and unlawful recourse to firearms by law enforcement resulting in death may amount to a wilful killing, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” The call for investigation and accountability was also endorsed by a group of UN human rights experts including UN Special Rapporteur Prof Michael Lynk.

Reacting to Friday’s events, MAP’s Director of Advocacy and Campaigns Neil Sammonds said: “Today has seen many more victims of Israel’s ongoing use of what appears to be excessive and unlawful force against protesters demanding the rights due to them under international law. Unless Israel is strongly reminded by the international community that it must strictly abide by international humanitarian and human rights law, more deaths and injuries are sure to follow.

“We welcome the growing calls for independent investigation into Israel’s use of force from the UN Secretary General, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, EU Foreign Affairs representative and a group of UN human rights experts. The only just and tenable position for the UK Government to take would be to add its voice to the calls for independent investigations. Accountability is essential in and of itself and will deter further unlawful use of violence.”

You can support the call for investigation and accountability by joining our campaign and emailing your MP today.

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