Gaza update: One Palestinian killed and hundreds injured, MAP’s team responding

Hundreds of casualties were once again reported on the seventh Friday of the Great March of Return protests in Gaza.

According to the Ministry of Health, one person was killed by Israeli security forces, and 973 injured. Of the injured, 371, 38%, were referred to hospital, including 49 children. Amongst those referred to hospital, 176 people suffered gunshot wounds.

Since 30 March, 41 Palestinians, including five children, have been killed during the course of the demonstrations and more than 9,800 injured, many with devastating gunshot wounds to their legs. There have been no reported injuries to Israelis.

MAP is greatly concerned not only about the fatalities and physical injuries but also the psychological impact of the violence and of the decades of suffering which the population of Gaza has endured, two thirds of them refugees displaced from what became Israel in 1948. This week Jonathan Rugman from Channel 4 News reported on the mental health crisis in Gaza, which has endured a decade of blockade and closure and repeated Israeli military offensives.

Gaza’s hospitals, already struggling under a decade of blockade and closure, with longstanding shortages of medical supplies, electricity and fuel have been overwhelmed by the mass casualties. The World Health Organization warned that Gaza’s healthcare system was already “on the brink of collapse” before the protests began.

MAP is responding directly to the very high number of complex limb injuries in Gaza. Our team there has released pre-positioned stocks of essential medicines needed to treat the wounded, as well as equipment to the Limb Reconstruction Unit at Al Shifa Hospital, established with the support of MAP and our partner IDEALS in response to needs arising from Israel’s 2014 military offensive on Gaza.

This week, MAP's Director of Programmes, Dr Andy Ferguson, is in Gaza with orthopaedic surgeon Graeme Groom of IDEALS who has been operating on severely injured protesters.

Yesterday they assessed the trauma stabilisation point set up by the Ministry of Health east of Gaza City. Dr Andy reported that the medical point was "very well organised", with a "clear triage system and lines of responsibility".

Dr Ferguson said: "Casualties mounting up as afternoon turns to evening" and that the response in hospitals was well organised. "Our trauma and limb reconstruction projects are clearly paying dividends when most needed, as is our support for the blood bank."

This week, Darren Darby, Associate Director of Nursing at the Royal London Children's Hospital has also been in Gaza with MAP, helping to develop trauma care. On Wednesday he facilitated a trauma symposium for local medical workers.

MAP once again draws attention to the huge number of Palestinian casualties and severity of so many injuries. MAP repeats its calls on influential governments including the UK to support chronically overstretched health services in Gaza, demand adherence to international law and to review its position on accountability by backing calls by UN bodies and experts and others for independent investigations into these bloody events so as to determine if and when breaches of international law have taken place and, where wrongdoing is found to have occurred, to ensure that those responsible are held to account.

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