Israel denies responsibility for Gaza amputees

Monday, 1 March, 2010 - 20:30
London, UK
Physicians for Human Rights-Israel

Israeli attacks in Gaza have left many civilians with long-term injuries and amputations. A local human rights group has requested that Israeli authorities pay for and provide treatment for civilian injuries they admit they had caused.

On 1 March, 2008, Jabr Abu Al-Hatal was on the balcony of his house in the Al-Tufah neighborhood in Gaza. He was helping his aunt hang out the laundry when the house was hit by an Israeli army shell, as part of an attack on several parts of Gaza that day.

Jabr, 15, was seriously wounded and both his legs were amputated. His aunt and her 2-year-old daughter were also injured.

Jabr was taken to Shifa hospital in Gaza but the treatment he needed was too complex.

He was sent for further treatment, first to Egypt, and then to Turkey, and fitted with prosthetic legs, only to discover on his return that they were too heavy and didn’t fit.

He now needs rehabilitation and new prosthetic legs.

Rehabilitation possibilities in Gaza are limited. The only institution in Gaza able to provide artificial limbs has a very long waiting list, and it cannot handle Jabr’s complicated case.

On 17 January 2009, in the course of Israel’s winter offensive on Gaza, ‘Suha’ was in her children’s room in her home in Al-Rimal neighbourhood when a missile struck.

Suha, 48 at the time, was injured and buried under rubble until she was rescued by her husband.

Her right leg was severed above the knee, and her left leg badly hurt. She was taken to Shifa hospital and both her legs were operated, but she was left with a right stump which now requires complicated rehabilitation, as well as an artificial limb.

No responsibility
Both Jabr and Suha were apparently hit unintentionally by the Israeli army, during attacks on other targets. Israeli human rights organisation Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) says that responsibility for their rehabilitation rests with the forces that hurt them.

Since March 2008, PHR-Israel has corresponded with the Israeli Defense Ministry, demanding that five amputees from Gaza be cared for in Israeli rehabilitation centres.

They had hoped their demands would be met because previous requests had led to recognition and treatment by Israel.

But on October 12th, 2009, a final response was sent by the Defense Ministry, rejecting all five claims.

For lack of other solutions, PHR-Israel has donated the costs of the rehabilitation for Jabr and Suha, and they are now being cared for at Reut Rehabilitation Centre in Israel.

But the organisations’ coordinator Reut Katz has told JNews that hundreds of other amputees are still awaiting treatment in Gaza.

Who will cover the costs for other Palestinians who need rehabilitation?” she asked. “It is the Israeli government that should take responsibility for this.”

This article may be reproduced on condition that JNews is quoted as its source.

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