A Palestinian medic has recounted being shot in the leg by an Israeli sniper, during the ongoing ‘Great March of Return’ protests in the occupied Gaza Strip.
The testimony, published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), gives an insight into Israeli forces’ crackdown on Palestinian protesters, which has included widespread use of live fire against demonstrators, journalists, and medics.
On 9 April, Imad, who is 34 and has been volunteering as a first responder with the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) since 2006, was posted near al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.
According to the WHO, Imad “was waiting as part of the PRCS team, sitting in the front passenger seat of an ambulance” more than 300 metres from the Gaza perimeter fence.
“Just after 5 o’clock there was suddenly shooting from the barrier and I was hit in my right leg”, Imad related. “We got out of the ambulance straight away and went to hide behind it”.
“At this point the paramedics who were with me put a bandage on my leg to stem the bleeding”, Imad continued, and explained how he was taken to two different hospitals before being transferred to Shifa Hospital after being diagnosed “with compartment syndrome [bleeding into the calf of the leg that then cuts off the blood supply to the leg]”.
“In Shifa I had surgery”, Imad told the WHO. “Doctors told me that if I hadn’t been able to have this surgery I would have lost my leg”.
The WHO report notes how, despite the risks, Imad “remains committed to volunteering with the ambulances and first responders”.
“We need humanitarian workers in this difficult situation”, he said. “Gaza has been exposed to three wars in 6 years. Life here is a constant emergency. Working with PRCS to help the sick and injured, you feel at least that you are able to improve things in some small way”.
According to the WHO, Imad is “due for a second operation to remove the bullet, which is still lodged in his right calf muscle, and to fix a fracture”.
“After I complete my treatment and get better, I’m aiming to go back to working with the ambulances”, Imad said. “For me, it’s a duty that I feel to our patients and to Gaza”.