Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says around 1,000 Palestinians shot by Israeli forces during anti-occupation protests along the fence between the besieged Gaza Strip and the territories have infections that could leave them permanently crippled.
The international medical charity said Thursday that a "slow-motion healthcare emergency is unfolding in Gaza” as hospitals, already under-equipped due to Israeli siege, were being overwhelmed by the “huge numbers of patients with complex and serious gunshot wounds”.
MSF, which has provided care for thousands of Palestinians since the protests began in late March, said that most of those wounded were shot in the legs, often resulting in open fractures prone to infection.
According to the charity group, untreated wounds could lead to lifelong disability for many, and untreated infections pose the risk of “amputation or even death”.
"This many patients would overstretch the best healthcare systems in the world. In Gaza, it is a crushing blow," Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, MSF's chief for the Palestinian territories, said in a statement.
The NGO called on the Tel Aviv regime to allow those patients out of the blockaded strip for necessary treatment and for governments to offer their medical facilities for the wounded.
"The alternative -- that thousands of patients will be left to deal with terrible injuries, with many permanently disabled and dependent on their families -- is unconscionable when adequate treatment is within the world's grasp," MSF said.
More than 240 Palestinians have lost their lives and thousands of others sustained injuries by Israeli live fire during the protests since March 30.
Gaza has been under the Israeli siege since June 2007, causing a decline in living standards as well as unprecedented unemployment and poverty.
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