‘Around 30 boys are shot every Friday’ – an Irish anaesthetist on trying to dull the pain in the war zone of Gaza

Francesca Holt Independent (Ireland) 18/09/19

‘Sagheer’ – meaning young boy in Arabic – is 16. His curly brown hair is piled high and shaved short around the sides. Every second day, Sagheer cries as dressings are pulled from the crusted pus and blood that seeps from his lower leg. One Friday, four months ago, Sagheer was shot in the leg by the Israeli military as he threw rocks across a fence. That fence is the land crossing controlled by Israel, which keeps two million people inside Gaza, on a 41km-long strip of land …

Friday, March 30, 2018 was the first mass demonstration against 11 years of blockade in Gaza. Since that Friday, more than 7,500 Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli live fire. Every Friday since then, young boys like Sagheer have gone to the fence that pens them in from the rest of the world, to protest. Then they are shot. Every single Friday. In August, the numbers dwindled; around 30 boys are shot, every Friday. This is not considered war. This is just what happens in Gaza, every single Friday.

I am a paediatric anaesthetist and I spent the last month working on an orthoplastic limb salvage project in Gaza. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has responded to the health crisis created by these shootings. Multi-disciplinary teams are trying to salvage these young men’s legs. Live bullets cause such destruction to the bone that they mushroom inside and obliterate the structure, causing gaps that have to be filled with cement. I heard the term ‘bone-gap’ more often than I hear the word allergy or asthma, at home in Ireland …  Of all injuries, 80pc are to the lower limb, maiming the future generation … Sagheer’s leg is rotting. He, like many others, suffers from chronic infection inside his bone. We need to identify the specific organisms dragged into the wound from the cavitating path of the bullet, so that Sagheer’s antibiotics are targeted and do not create a milieu of resistance. Bone biopsies are sampled from the wound. During my mission, these samples were taken through checkpoints at the land crossing, into Israel, for analysis….


View all →