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Palestinian health services struggling to cope with Great March of Return injuries, UN finds

PALESTINIAN health services are still struggling to cope with the number of injuries sustained by protesters during the Great March of Return protests, according to the UN.

A World Health Organisation (WHO) report said 210 people were killed by gunshot wounds from Israeli snipers between March 30 2018 and March 30 2019.

Over the same period, 6,872 people received injuries after being shot amounting to 25 per cent of the total casualties treated by health services in the occupied Gaza Strip.

The WHO stated that “many still face excessive damage to the bone, irreversible damage to neurovascular structures and extensive soft tissue damage,” with osteomyelitis, a bone infection, a particular concern.

“Although any health system in the world would be overwhelmed if it had to manage a high influx of trauma casualties every week, the most pressing concern was the staggering number of gunshot wounds”, the WHO noted.

The UN  warned that those needing specialist treatment and to access healthcare in either Israeli or West Bank hospitals faced being blocked from leaving Gaza.

“Timely [Israeli-issued] patient permit approval has declined in recent years from more than 90 per cent patient permit applications in 2012 to 61 per cent in 2018,” it found.

“If a patient is too old, young or sick to make the journey on their own, they may require a companion,” the UN said.

Statistics showed that less than half – 48 per cent – of patient companion permit applications were approved in 2018.

The approval rate for those injured during Great March of Return protests is even lower.

Just 17 per cent of the 550 applications were approved, 26 were denied while 56 per cent were delayed.

In a shocking case, five-year-old Palestinian girl Aisha a-Lulu was left to die alone, crying for her parents after brain surgery in Jerusalem. Israeli authorities denied them a permit to travel with her.

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