Hundreds of injured Gazans at risk of amputations or death: MSF
Around 1,000 Palestinians shot by Israeli forces during months of protests in the besieged enclave have infections that could leave them permanently crippled or even dead, the medical charity Docotors Without Borders (MSF) has said.
Gaza's health ministry says about 6,000 Palestinians have been shot by Israeli forces during demonstrations since March.
MSF, which has provided care for thousands of Palestinians since the protests began, said on Thursday that the healthcare systems in Gaza were being overwhelmed by the number of cases and the often complicated treatments needed.
The NGO called on Israel to allow those injured 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.
Most of those hurt by live fire were shot in the legs, often resulting in open fractures prone to infection, said MSF, who described the situation as a "slow-motion healthcare emergency".
"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.
Palestinians have been protesting every Friday since 30 March as part of the Great March of Return.
The protest campaign calls for an end to the 11-year Israeli blockade on Gaza and for Palestinian refugees' right of return to the lands that their families fled during the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
At least 235 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and thousands injured since the demonstrations began on 30 March, mostly by Israeli fire during protests but also by air and tank strikes.
Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period, one by a Palestinian sniper and another during a botched Israeli special forces operation within the Gaza Strip.
Israel maintains a crippling blockade of the Gaza Strip which critics say amounts to collective punishment of the impoverished enclave's two million residents.
Egypt also upholds the siege, restricting movement in and out of Gaza on its border.