I first worked in Gaza in January and February 2019, treating people who had been shot and injured by the Israeli army during demonstrations at the fence that separates the blockaded enclave from Israel.
The injuries I saw on patients in Gaza were, from an orthopaedic point of view, horrendous. The majority were gunshot wounds, mainly to the lower legs – which means a lot of people who are maimed and can’t walk.
I was shocked by the ages of the patients: most were young men between 18 and 30 years of age. We witnessed gunshot injuries in boys as young as 11 years old.
The demonstrations at the fence, still ongoing and occurring every Friday, would result in new patients each week. During January and February, our MSF teams were seeing around 20 new patients weekly with wounds from live ammunition.
Meanwhile, the local Ministry of Health was – and still is – inundated with new patients each week, with injuries caused by exploding tear gas cylinders or rubber bullets, as well as inhalation injuries from smoke. These patients add to the regular load of healthcare for 1.8 million people.