More than 1,000 Palestinians in the occupied Gaza Strip "are suffering from severe bone infections developed in the aftermath of being shot by the Israeli army", according to a new update by global medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
MSF said it is "dealing with immense challenges" treating those shot by Israeli forces during protests in the Gaza Strip, including bone infections that add "to the already complicated path to recovery that these injured people must tread".
More than 7,400 Palestinians have been injured by live ammunition during the protests, MSF stated, "with around half suffering from open fractures, where the bone is broken near the wound".
"Gunshot wounds by their very nature are prone to infection," MSF said.
With injuries such as those in Gaza, where the wounds are huge, bones are splintered, and treatment is difficult, many wounds stay open long after the injury, meaning the risk of infection is drastically higher.
Aulio Castillo, MSF's Medical Team Leader in Gaza, explained that for many of their patients who have been shot, "the severity and complexity of their wounds – combined with the severe shortage of treatments for them in Gaza – means they have now developed chronic infections."
Treating these infections is made all the more difficult because of "a health system reeling from the effects of more than a decade of Israeli blockade, Palestinian political in-fighting and Egyptian restrictions on movement," MSF stated.
"We have worked with the Ministry of Health to upgrade a laboratory so that it can analyse bone samples, a crucial part of diagnosing correctly these bone infections and knowing which antibiotics will work," said Castillo.
According to MSF, this is "the first laboratory able to analyse bone samples in Gaza," since "previously, each sample had to be sent to labs in Israel for testing".