Pictures: Ministry of Tourism Unearths Four New Graves in Gaza’s Roman Cemetery

The Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities unveiled a significant discovery of four previously unknown graves unearthed during excavation efforts at Gaza City’s Roman cemetery.

The Director-General of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage at the Ministry shared this news in a press statement, revealing that the total count of graves now stands at 134, including two lead coffins that had been previously reported by the Ministry.

Abu Reida, the Director-General, provided further details, explaining that these recently discovered graves represent four distinct burial styles within the expansive confines of the Roman cemetery.

This historical site covers an impressive area of around 4,000 square meters and boasts origins that harken back nearly 2,000 years.

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities is deeply devoted to conserving valuable archaeological assets and tirelessly safeguarding the rich and diverse cultural and historical heritage, especially those recently uncovered archaeological wonders.

These ongoing endeavors align with the Ministry’s overarching mission of preserving the deep-rooted historical legacies of the various epochs that have shaped Gaza and, in doing so, nurturing and preserving the rich cultural and historical tapestry of the region.

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Gaza: Israel denied life-saving healthcare to ‘two Palestinian children a day’ in 2023

Almost 400 sick children from Gaza were deprived the chance to leave the besieged enclave for the West Bank in six months, according to Save the Children

Israeli authorities deprived life-saving healthcare to almost 400 Palestinian children in Gaza during the first half of 2023, according to a new report by Save the Children.

A staggering average of 60 young patients were not allowed to leave for the occupied West Bank to receive urgent medical attention each month, equivalent to over two children per day.

These denials have left children without access to critical surgeries and urgent medication, which are unavailable in the blockaded enclave.

“Some are desperately sick children who have no options other than leaving Gaza to survive,” said Jason Lee, Save the Children’s director in the occupied Palestinian territory, in a statement.
“Denying children healthcare is inhumane and an infringement of their rights.”

The London-based organisation said that in May alone, Israeli authorities denied or left unanswered 100 children’s applications to request permits to exit through the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing, which Israel controls, in the north of the Gaza Strip.

During the same month, at least seven children were among 33 Palestinians killed in Israel’s attack on Gaza between 9 and 13 May 2023.

Left to die

Because of the severe lack of medical equipment and personnel, a significant portion of patients in Gaza, notably those suffering from conditions such as cancer and chronic diseases, must obtain medical referrals covered by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to enable them to seek treatment in the occupied West Bank or Israel.

After they receive approvals and financial coverage for their medical treatment, patients are then required to apply for Israeli exit permits to be allowed to leave the strip through the Beit Hanoun, the only land crossing for Palestinians who want to move between Gaza and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory.

One in 10 patients who seek exit permits from Gaza die within six months after their first application.

Israel: How delayed exit permits kill Palestinian patients in besieged Gaza

Read More »

Yet, they endure a waiting period of almost five weeks for each application to undergo processing by Israeli authorities.

In 2022, three Palestinian children died after months of waiting for Israeli exit permits that would have enabled them to cross the border and access life-saving medical treatment in the occupied West Bank. Among them were 16-year-old leukaemia patient Salim al-Nawati and 19-month-old Fatima al-Masri.

Masri, who suffered an atrial septal defect (hole in the heart), was born after eight years of marriage and died after Israeli authorities left unanswered five applications her parents submitted to get her an exit permit.

“I submitted the first application at the end of [2021] and got an appointment on 26 December, but shortly before that date, I received a text message saying that her application was pending under review,” Masri’s father, Jalal, previously told MEE.

“I went through the same prolonged procedures again to submit another application and got another appointment on 13 February. Three days before the appointment, I received the same message again. So I submitted a third application to get another appointment on 6 March, which was delayed until 27 March and then 5 April. Fatima died 11 days before that date.”

Complex restrictions on healthcare

Devastated by 16 years of an Israeli-led blockade and recurrent military attacks, Gaza’s healthcare system faces immense challenges, with the entry of vital medical supplies, equipment and medications severely restricted by Israel.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, around 224 drug items (43 percent of the essential medicine list) and 213 medical disposables (25 percent of the essential list) were at zero stock in May.

While tens of thousands of patients are granted medical referrals outside of Gaza by the PA each year, almost a third of them are denied exit permits by Israel.

‘Denying children healthcare is inhumane and an infringement of their rights’

– Jason Lee, Save the Children

In 2022, around 33 percent of the 20,295 patient permit applications submitted to Israeli authorities were denied or delayed. This includes a minimum of 29 percent of applications filed on behalf of child patients, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

However, permit denials are not the only challenge Gaza patients face throughout the prolonged process of getting proper medical treatment outside of the strip.

In the majority of cases, approximately 62 percent of the time, Israeli authorities denied or delayed permit applications for caregivers and companions who are meant to accompany patients during their medical journeys.

Moreover, 225 patients underwent security interrogations by Israel, of whom only 24 were granted exit permits.

The coastal enclave, home to more than two million residents, has 36 hospitals providing an average of 1.26 hospital beds for every 1,000 people, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

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Israeli occupation authorities have deprived 400 Gazan children from their life-saving healthcare in the first half of 2023, according to Save the Children. These denials left children without access to critical surgeries and urgent medication, which are unavailable in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

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without words

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New Year, old restrictions

September 12, 2023

Dear friends and colleagues,

Will you join us in our fight against Israel’s attacks on Gaza’s fishermen?

Last week, we updated you about an urgent letter we sent to the Minister of Defense and COGAT demanding an end to Israel’s decision to block all exits of goods from the Strip via Kerem Shalom. On Sunday, thanks in part to our action, Israel re-opened the crossing.

The block impacted traders and suppliers across Gaza’s industries. Fishermen were particularly vulnerable, as fish can’t be stored without electricity and electricity is a sparse resource in the Strip. One fish trader told us that in one day alone, Israel’s decision cost him a loss of some 300,000 NIS or close to 80,000 USD. He said: “I couldn’t process what I heard about the crossing being closed to exit of goods. In Gaza, we’re sick of this reality that robs us of control over our destiny.”

Daily, fishermen in Gaza are subject to restrictions on access to the sea and violent enforcement of those restrictions by the Israeli navy. Sale of fish outside the Strip has also been restricted since August last year, in an act of collective punishment.

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Gisha and Adalah are engaged in an ongoing legal battle challenging the legality of Israel’s enforcement of the “fishing zone” in Gaza’s sea-space and the state’s unprecedented request to the court to permanently confiscate fishing boats it has seized off the coast.

Following our efforts, the court ordered the state to release boats, which had been seized in Gaza in 2022, until the end of legal proceedings. This interim victory gives us hope, but the fight is not over. Gisha and Adalah’s legal battle against Israel’s attempts to permanently confiscate the boats it seizes in Gaza’s sea-space, and the dangerous precedent they are attempting to set, continues.

A boat that Israel is trying to confiscate permanently. Photo: Courtesy of Mohammed Al Hassi

Through legal and public advocacy, and together with your help, Gisha is pressing for far-reaching changes in policy towards one of Gaza’s oldest trades and for the protection of livelihoods in Gaza more broadly. We cannot do what we do without the support of partners such as yourself. Even a small action can make an impact: follow us on social media, contribute a monthly donation, and share our work with your networks.

Wishing all those who are celebrating, a meaningful New Year.

In solidarity,

All of us at Gisha

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Gaza exhales: Israel lifts Kerem Shalom export ban

After days of closure and exportation halts, on Friday, Israeli occupation authorities reopened the Kerem Shalom crossing to exports from the besieged Gaza Strip. The prevention of exit of all goods from the coastal enclave via the fully Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, the sole point of commercial import and export between Gaza and the rest of the world, caused serious repercussions for Gaza’s civilian population and economic sector.

Home to around 2.3 million Palestinians, Gaza is plagued by the devastating Israeli land, air and ground siege, pushing collapse across many sectors and causing soaring poverty and unemployment rates. Experts cautioned the recent decision to halt exports from the Gaza Strip as potentially catastrophic for the coastal enclave.

A report by the Palestinian Federation of Industries stated that the direct losses to the industrial sectors due to the decision to stop exports amounted to about $4,760,000. The five main sectors directly affected by the decision to halt exports are the clothing and textile sectors and the wood, plastic, food, engineering and metal industries. Approximately 147 factories, collectively employing 6,895 workers, were impacted by the closures, experiencing delays and work shutdowns in addition to lost revenue.

OPINION: An extremely dangerous future awaits the West Bank

According to statements by the Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza, the losses resulting from the cessation of agricultural exports are estimated at one million shekels.

In the wake of seventeen years of the occupation-imposed restriction on Gaza Strip exports, Gaza industrial exports have not exceeded a ten per cent margin of what they were before the imposition of the 2007 siege, according to the Human Rights Centre.

Head of the Fishermen’s Syndicate Nizar Ayyash conveyed in press statements: “The Gaza Strip exports about 80 tonnes of fish per month, and stopping exports causes losses of up to about 50 per cent for Palestinian fishermen.” He explained that continuing to implement this decision would lead to: “A complete cessation of the fishing sector, as the fisherman will not be able to manage the operational expenses necessary to operate boats at sea, in light of the high costs.”

Ayyash pointed out that Palestinian fishermen’s financial return from marketing fish in the local Gaza Strip markets is insufficient to cover these costs. Gazan fishermen often rely on selling their fish at high prices in the export market compared to Gaza market prices.

READ: Palestine refugee camps witness to historic resistance, Israel aggression

The statement also pointed out that closing the crossing is an unjust measure considered collective punishment by which the occupation inflicts unnecessary suffering on more than two million people in the Gaza Strip, aggravating the already difficult living conditions under Israeli siege and causing a real humanitarian catastrophe. Ayyash further noted that the policy of collective punishment is prohibited according to Article 33 of the Geneva Convention.

The Israeli authorities informed the Presidential Committee on Coordination of Goods in the Gaza Strip of the Israeli government’s decision to halt all exports from Gaza via Kerem Shalom, starting 5 September, 2023, and continuing indefinitely. This decision comes in the wake of claims that Israeli investigators had allegedly discovered a small amount of explosive material inside a shipment of clothing transported from Gaza to the West Bank. This allegation has been castigated by political analysts and experts as another spurious Israeli justification enabling further collective punishment of the besieged Gaza Strip.

According to political analyst Dr Wael Almana’mah: “The oppressive measures taken by the Israeli occupation authorities are fully matched by the mendacity of its spokespeople. The Israeli occupation’s claim that explosive materials were to be smuggled from Gaza to the West Bank is a protracted attempt to leverage more pressure on the Gaza strip.”

Dr Almana’mah continued: “The material that was allegedly discovered is not found in Gaza. On the contrary, Gaza needs support from others to support in order to access such materials.”

OPINION: The UN’s plan to cease food aid in Gaza will cause thousands of job losses, increase poverty

The decision comes soon after the threatened assassination of senior resistance commanders in Gaza, based on an Israeli claim that the latest wave of resistance attacks against Israeli occupation forces in the occupied West Bank are incited by Gazan resistance parties. Dr Almana’mah believes that the economic crisis was created to pressure the resistance in Gaza to make concessions for the sake of the Israeli occupation.

Before the crippling Israeli siege on Gaza in 2007, some basic industrial sectors relied on export and marketing outside the coastal enclave, such as the textile, clothing and furniture industries and the agricultural and food manufacturing sectors. The occupation authorities halted all exports out of Gaza from 2007 until the end of 2014. In November 2014, following the Israeli offensive between July and August of the same year, commercial transport and export of agricultural products, furniture and clothing were resumed from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

This is not the first time Israel has decided to stop all movement of goods through the Kerem Shalom crossing in response to isolated incidents. In an act of non-compliance with international law, the Israeli occupation regime leverages its total control at the crossing of the impoverished Gaza to strong-arm Palestinians into submission and subdue the Palestinian resistance factions.

The move is condemned by human rights organisations as they call to stop the oppressive and discriminatory practices and the dangerous game played by the apartheid state.


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Gaza’s surplus of nurses works for free

A picture taken on August 5, 2021 show Surgical operating rooms inside Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. Israeli authorities prevented the entry of nitrous oxide canisters also known as ‘whippets’, used as an anaestheticsince the beginning of 2021, according to Palestinian Ministry of Health. The Gaza Strip needs 400,000 litres per year of nitrous oxide for its hospitals to function adequately. Photo by Omar Ashtawy

For the past two years, Samar Ziada, 27, has been a volunteer nurse at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza.

She assists staff nurses in their daily routines: preparing injections for patients, treating wounds and taking temperatures.

Al-Shifa hospital is known for being a stressful place to work. It is understaffed and lacks much-needed medical equipment due to the 16-year Israeli blockade on the coastal strip of land.

And while Ziada works three days a week, eight hours a day, she is not paid.

She has not been able to find paid work as a nurse since graduating with a degree in nursing from Al-Azhar University in 2018. There are too many nurses in Gaza and too few available paid positions. Every year, when Ziada applies for new nursing jobs at government or private hospitals, she finds that she is one of hundreds applying.

The situation is so acute that in July, the Palestinian Nursing Association in the Gaza Strip issued a statement expressing its concern about employment prospects for nurses.

There are currently 14,200 registered nurses in Gaza, yet only 4,000 are employed as nurses while 10,200 are not working in the field.

The number of nursing graduates is outpacing the available jobs, the statement added, since public institutions simply cannot afford to hire more nurses, despite the need for them.

Ziada took the volunteer position hoping it would lead to an actual job, but so far that has not been the case.

Don’t study nursing

Nursing was once considered a reliable career path in Gaza. It was thought that, despite Gaza’s high unemployment rate, the Strip would always need nurses.

Yet Hasan Hilles‎, 30, now regrets studying nursing. He graduated in 2016 with a degree in nursing from the Islamic University in Gaza.

He worked a year in a private clinic, with a low monthly salary of around $235. This was the best job he could find. All better-paying jobs, he said, require having connections or knowing someone.

Hilles‎ was not surprised by the Palestinian Nursing Association’s statement. He now cautions friends against studying nursing, since job opportunities are so scarce.

Though he still applies for nursing jobs about five times a year, he has mostly worked in construction.

A year ago, when he was on a construction site, a fellow worker endured a head injury and collapsed to the ground. Hilles went to assist him and check for injuries, but his coworker told him to get a paramedic instead. When Hilles explained that he was a nurse, his coworker didn’t believe him until he expertly bandaged his wound.

He also tried volunteering.

“I volunteered in a government hospital for a year and a half,” he said, but this did not lead to a job.

A system in crisis

Gaza’s healthcare system is facing numerous crises. Hospitals lack adequate medicine and medical equipment on any given day. Yet their day-to-day operations are anything but normal, as nurses and doctors often have to treat the wounded and dying following Israeli military attacks.

Muhammad al-Kafarna, a former chairman of the Palestinian Nursing Association, which advocates for nurses’ rights, is alarmed by the number of unemployed nurses.

He said that only 120 nursing positions open each year, yet there are 5,000 nursing students in Gaza.

Gaza’s 22 private hospitals absorb many of the new nurses, yet graduates would prefer to work in one of Gaza’s 13 public hospitals, which are run by the Ministry of Health, due to better salaries.

He fears for the future of nursing in Gaza, especially since many recent graduates are considering moving abroad to find work.

Himam Saeed, 32, traveled to the city of al-Ain in the UAE this August to interview with a private hospital.

He graduated from nursing school in Gaza in 2014, yet finding work has been a struggle. From 2018-19, he volunteered at Gaza’s Indonesian Hospital, and then worked as a nurse on the front lines during the Great March of Return series of protests, treating those shot and injured by Israeli soldiers.

Like many others, he thought a paid job would follow. When it didn’t, he worked for a medical charity for six months but left due to a lack of funding.

Saeed mentioned other college friends who had left Gaza for places like Egypt and Turkey. Many of them traveled to Greece from Turkey, via raft or swimming. This was not an option for Saeed, since he knew people who had died on that route to Greece.

“I love humanitarian work, and in Gaza we gain good experience,” he said. Yet because he wants a better future, he has decided to stay in the UAE.

Like Saeed, Samar Ziada, who volunteers at al-Shifa, views nursing as humanitarian work. She doesn’t want to do any other kind of work, and she’s going to continue to apply for nursing jobs. At this point, it doesn’t feel like an option to find another career, as her father took out loans for her to obtain a nursing degree.

Ola Mousa is an artist and writer from Gaza.

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The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007. Home to around 2.3 million Palestinians, Gaza is plagued by poverty and unemployment due to the siege

Israel suspension of Gaza exports risks ‘catastrophe’: Palestinian businesses

Israel currently enforces a land, air and sea blockade of the Gaza which has been in place since 2007 when Hamas took control of the territory.

Palestinian businesses warned Tuesday that an Israeli decision to suspend exports from the Gaza Strip put the Palestinian territory at risk of a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

Israel’s army chief on Monday ordered a halt to commercial deliveries from Gaza to Israel after an alleged attempt to smuggle explosives.

The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since the Islamist group Hamas seized power in the Palestinian territory in 2007.

Gaza Chamber of Commerce president Ayed Abu Ramadan said the Israeli decision was “a new escalation in the policy of the economic blockade” on the coastal enclave.

Home to around 2.3 million Palestinians, Gaza is plagued by poverty and unemployment – conditions Ramadan warned would only worsen with the “unjust” move – due to the siege.

He denounced that the Israeli “collective punishments” risk causing “a real humanitarian catastrophe”.

Osama Nofal, of the Gaza economic ministry, put the value of Gaza exports to Israel and the occupied West Bank at around $134 million a year, with the bulk being fruit and vegetables, fish, clothing and furniture.

Palestinian Federation of Industries spokesman Waddah Bseiso said the Israeli decision could force “hundreds of factories to close” and thousands of layoffs.

Israel said on Monday that its security forces had “detected several kilograms of high-quality explosives hidden within a clothing delivery carried by three trucks” at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Gaza and Israel.

In response, army chief of staff Herzi Halevi, with approval from Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, ordered the halting of “commercial deliveries from Gaza to Israel, allowing security adjustments to be made at the crossing”.

“Deliveries will resume in accordance with subsequent situation assessments,” the Israeli army and defence ministry said in a joint statement.

The Kerem Shalom crossing is the only point of entry for goods between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The Israeli suspension comes with tensions raging in the occupied West Bank with over 200 Palestinians being killed since the beginning of the year as Israeli raids on the territory have increased.

Israel says that its land, air, and sea blockade of Gaza is necessary to protect it from attacks from Gaza. Hamas, which runs Gaza and won the 2006 Palestinian general election, is considered a terrorist organisation by the US, UK, Israel and EU.

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PCHR Warns against Repercussions of Israeli Occupation Authorities’ Decision to Halt Gaza Exports

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the Israeli Occupation Forces’ (IOF) closure of Kerem Shalom commercial crossing for the third consecutive day to Gaza exports of all types. PCHR warns against the catastrophic repercussions on hundreds of industrial facilities that market their products abroad and may cease operation.

The Israeli occupation authorities had issued a decision to halt Gaza exports of all types through the only commercial crossing, “Kerem Shalom,” starting from Tuesday, 05 September 2023, until further notice. It is worth noting that for 17 years, the Israeli authorities have imposed restrictions on Gaza exports which do not exceed 10% of Gaza’s total monthly exports before the unjust closure imposed in 2007.

This decision further tightens the Israeli illegal closure on the Gaza Strip, an unjustified escalatory move that perpetuates IOF’s collective punishment policy against 2 million Palestinians and constitutes a serious violation of the international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949

According to PCHR’s follow-up, the Israeli decision to halt Gaza’s exports has inflicted heavy financial losses amounting to millions of dollars to important economic sectors, including agriculture, fishing, and industrial sectors. The Palestinian Ministry of National Economy has announced that Gaza exports amount to 134 million dollars annually and continuing to ban Gaza export would hinder development and cause heavy losses to the economic sectors. Moreover, the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture has reported daily losses of 1 million shekels, while the textile sector has incurred losses of 3 million dollars.[1]

Moreover, this decision may lead to discharging thousands of workers and endangering their livelihoods, including 60000 workers in the agricultural and fishing sectors, and 9000 workers in the textile and clothes sector.  This would exacerbate their living and humanitarian conditions and depriving them of meeting their families’ basic needs.[2]

It should be noted that the Israeli occupation bans the entry of so-called “dual-use items” which are about 61 essential items, including hundreds of goods and commodities that are of the population’s necessities of life. Imposing restrictions on entry of these items leads to the deterioration of population’s economic and social rights and worsens their living and humanitarian conditions as the unemployment rate has reached 46%, 70% among youth.  Moreover, more than half of the population lives in poverty as the poverty rate has recorded 60%, and 68.5% of the Gaza population suffers from food insecurity. Additionally, 80% of the Gaza population relies on international aid.[3]

For years under the Israeli-imposed closure, economic facilities have been systematically targeted as IOF intended to paralyze their productivity and destroy Gaza’s economy, rendering it dependent on the Israeli economy.

Therefore, PCHR calls upon the international community to exert pressure on the Israeli authorities to end its collective punishment policy, fulfill their obligations, open the crossings, and allow the free movement of goods to and from the Gaza Strip.

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Israel’s bullets leave wounds that won’t heal

won’t heal

Due to the still-spreading bacterial infection in what remains of Muhammad Hussein’s leg, he has been unable to be fitted with a prosthesis.

Abdallah al-Naami The Electronic Intifada

Over five years have passed since an Israeli sniper shot Muhammad Hussein in the knee.

On 11 May 2018, Hussein was participating in the Great March of Return in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Thousands of Palestinians had been gathering every Friday at the boundary with Israel since March 2018. The protesters sought to claim their right to return to their land, which was taken by force by the Israeli occupation in the 1948 Nakba.

Hussein was filming the march as part of a university project.

Then, an Israeli sniper shot a young man in front of Hussein.

Hussein was in shock. A few seconds later, he was also shot.

He fell to the ground, in pain. The wound started bleeding profusely, and Hussein passed out as the paramedics were treating him. He was taken directly to the emergency room at the European Gaza Hospital in Khan Younis, where he underwent an eight-hour operation.

After the surgery, Hussein was optimistic but still in pain.

“I thought I had recovered from the injury and that I would be able to walk again soon,” Hussein said.

After two weeks in the hospital, the doctors decided to amputate Hussein’s leg from above the knee, as they discovered inflammation and gangrene in the area of the injury.

Initially, Hussein and his family were so shocked that they refused the operation.

But it was the only option.

The day after the amputation was Hussein’s 20th birthday.

“I can’t forget how I felt that day. I was supposed to be spending a happy day with my friends and family,” he said. “Instead, the Israeli occupation turned it into a day of pain and grief.”

Never-ending infections

The UN monitoring group OCHA estimates that over 35,000 were injured during the protests, from March 2018 to November 2019. Among those injured, nearly 8,000 were shot with live ammunition.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) described those gunshot injuries as “devastating” and “of an unusual severity,” noting that doctors were observing “an extreme level of destruction to bones and soft tissue, and large exit wounds that can be the size of a fist.”

About two weeks after the amputation, Hussein started to experience severe pain in the area of his injury. At the hospital, the doctors discovered a bacterial infection and performed an emergency operation to control it.

Dr. Fadel Naim, a consultant orthopedist in Gaza City, said that Gaza lacks the equipment needed to diagnose bacterial infections, due to the Israeli blockade.

Such laboratory equipment can detect and determine types of bacteria so doctors can prescribe the necessary antibiotic. Without the equipment, infections only worsen.

Over a thousand Palestinians in Gaza experienced bacterial infections in their gunshot wounds, according to MSF, and many of these infections are resistant to common antibiotics.

According to Naim, many infections did not respond to any of the antibiotics available in the Gaza Strip, and they had to resort to amputation as a last resort to stop the spread of infections.

But, in many cases, even amputation was not enough.

Wounds that won’t heal

Over five years, Hussein has undergone three amputations, but they have all failed to stop the infection. Today, only a few centimeters of his leg remain, and the infection continues to spread.

“The doctors told me that if the infection spreads to the pelvic joint, it could be life-threatening,” Hussein said.

In 2019, he applied for a permit to travel for treatment in hospitals in both Jerusalem and the West Bank, but the Israeli authorities refused his request.

“After every surgery I had, I had hope that my wound would heal and my suffering with the injury would finally end,” he said. “I was disappointed and devastated every time.”

Khamis Fojo has undergone 18 surgeries and eight amputations after an Israeli sniper shot him above the knee in July 2018.

Abdallah al-Naami The Electronic Intifada

Khamis Fojo, 33, has experienced a similar sense of devastation and disappointment since an Israeli sniper shot him on 27 July 2018 during the Great March of Return.

He was over a kilometer from the boundary fence when he was shot above the knee. The bullet caused severe internal bleeding, and Fojo was in a coma for two weeks at the European Gaza Hospital.

“The last thing I remember before I passed out is the sound of a bullet,” he said. “It sounded like an explosion.”

“I thought I was going to die.”

Due to the severity of his injury, doctors amputated Fojo’s leg.

Six months after the amputation, he developed a fever and felt intense pain in his leg. A bacterial infection had developed.

Antibiotics were not enough to stop the infection, and surgery was the only option. Over the past five years, Fojo has undergone 18 surgeries, including eight amputations.

“Despite all the surgeries, my injury kept getting worse and more painful,” said Fojo, who lives in Rafah with his wife and four children.

“I still live in pain every day, especially at night,” he continued.

Fojo recently stopped taking painkillers, as they are no longer effective.

The Israeli authorities refused to grant Fojo a permit to travel for treatment in the West Bank or Jerusalem. He was rejected more than 10 times for a permit to enter Egypt until finally, in 2022 and 2023, he was allowed to travel there.

“The Egyptian doctors were shocked to see how bad my injury was,” he said. “They told me that they had never seen a case like mine before, and that the weapons that caused my injury should be internationally banned.”

Mental toll

Before the injury, Fojo was an active person, but now, he experiences anxiety and is quick to anger. He rarely leaves the house.

Muhammad Hussein has endured similar bouts of depression. “It was difficult for me to accept and cope with my disability and my constantly deteriorating injury,” he said.

Yet he obtained a degree in multimedia studies from Palestine Technical College in Deir al-Balah in 2021. And, eventually, he returned to weightlifting and physical training, but these are not activities that he can do with regularity.

As his infection spreads throughout the remainder of his leg, he has to take breaks for surgeries and to rest.

In 2021, Hussein undertook the necessary steps to get fitted for a prosthetic leg from Hamad Hospital for Rehabilitation and Prosthetics in Gaza. But the nerves in the injured leg still cause it to involuntarily twitch, especially during the night, which is frightening to Hussein.

Due to the bacteria spreading to the bone and the constant pain, a prosthesis was not possible.

Abdallah al-Naami is a journalist and photographer living in Gaza.

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