- In Gaza Protests, Israel’s Snipers Leave Hundreds of Young People Disabled
For eight months, Israeli snipers have repeatedly targeted protesters’ legs [AP]
Israeli forces deployed along the Gaza border have fired live rounds at Palestinian protesters’ legs, ever since demonstrations against Israel’s long-running blockade of Gaza began in March.
And for eight months, Israeli snipers have targeted one part of the body more than any other – the legs. The Israeli army says it is responding to weekly assaults on its frontier by Palestinians armed with stones, grenades and firebombs. The military says it opens fire only as a last resort, and considers firing at the lower limbs an act of restraint.
Still, 235 Palestinians have been shot to death since March. And the number of wounded has reached colossal proportions. Of the 10,511 protesters treated at hospitals and field clinics in Gaza so far, at least 6,392 – or roughly 60 percent – have been struck in the lower limbs, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. At least 5,884 of those casualties were hit by live ammunition; others have been hit by rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas canisters.
The upsurge in violence has left a visible mark on Gaza that will likely remain for decades to come. It is now common to see young men walking through dilapidated streets on crutches. Most have legs bandaged or fitted with a metal frame called a fixator, which uses pins or screws that are inserted into fractured bones to help stabilize them.
The wounded can often be seen gathering at a treatment clinic run by the Paris-based medical charity Doctors Without Borders in Gaza City, where Associated Pressphotographer Felipe Dana took portraits of some of them.
Some of those he photographed acknowledged throwing stones toward Israeli troops during the demonstrations. One said he had hurled a firebomb. But others said they were unarmed bystanders; one paramedic said he was helping rescue the wounded, while another man said he was waving a Palestinian flag and another said he was selling coffee and tea.