In Gaza, maimed legs are a badge of honor-until reality sets in

In this Sept. 10, 2018, photo, patients with leg injuries from demonstrations gather outside a clinic run by MSF (Doctors Without Borders) in Gaza City. (Felipe Dana / The Associated Press)
Patients with leg injuries from demonstrations gather outside a clinic run by MSF (Doctors Without Borders) in Gaza City, Sep 10, 2018. (photo: Felipe Dana / The Associated Press)
Gaza health officials say Palestinians are being hit by army snipers told to aim at the lower body to avoid killing demonstrators.

By Jonathan Ferziger and Saud Abu Ramadan | Bloomberg | Dec 9, 2018

In the past nine months, about 6,500 Gazans have been shot in the leg at demonstrations, and 500 have been permanently disabled. Amnesty International said soldiers are using high-velocity weapons designed to cause maximum harm to protesters who don’t pose an imminent threat.

Shrouded in a cloud of black smoke from burning tires in the Gaza Strip, Mahmoud Malalha was hit in the left leg by an Israeli army sniper.

In the hopelessness of Hamas-ruled Gaza, Malalha’s generation of young men are taught to see their crutches as a badge of honor in the war against Israel. Back from the hospital after multiple surgeries and physical therapy, they are met by family and neighbors bearing cakes and candy, with high fives from their pals and their mothers ululating with pride.

Only once he left Gaza’s Shifa hospital did reality hit. In the nine months since a campaign of weekly protests against Israel was launched, Gaza health officials say 101 Palestinians have had their legs amputated after being hit by army snipers told to aim at the lower body to avoid killing demonstrators.

Thousands more have suffered sometimes incapacitating leg wounds in an impoverished territory that’s ill-equipped to offer opportunities to its many disabled.

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