Demonstrators suffer wounds of “unusual severity” as Israeli forces introduce deadlier weapons in Gaza protests.
“Normally, a regular bullet breaks the leg [upon impact]. But these bullets create massive wounds, indicating that an explosion happened inside the body. It’s an expanding bullet. It pulverizes the leg, and the leg gets cut off [as a result].”
— Ashraf al-Qedra, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman
“Half of the more than 500 patients we have admitted in our clinics have injuries where the bullet has literally destroyed tissue after having pulverized the bone.”
— Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, Head of Mission of MSF in Palestine
When he was hit by a bullet fired by Israeli forces during demonstrations in Gaza on April 6, Mohammed al-Zaieem lost so much blood, and his left leg was so deformed, he feared he wouldn’t survive. His arteries, veins and a large piece of bone were destroyed. His right leg wasn’t spared either as the round created a massive exit wound and then hit it as well.
By the time he was transferred to Istishari Arab Hospital in Ramallah after undergoing seven surgeries in Gaza, there was nothing doctors could do to save his left leg. It had to be amputated, unbeknown to al-Zaieem, 22, who was unconscious at the time.
“No one dared to tell him [when he woke up from the surgery]. I couldn’t,” said his cousin of the same name, who lives in the occupied West Bank.
“As he was trying to get up, he suddenly felt the imbalance in his legs. He was in shock. It’s like he was searching for his leg. It was the hardest moment for him. He was silent for five minutes while I was talking with him.”
Al-Zaieem is among the 24 Palestinians who have had their limbs amputated since the March of Great Return mass protests started on March 30.