RAMALLAH, May 31 (Xinhua) — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Thursday that it will send two surgical teams and medical supplies to the Gaza Strip to assist residents affected by the recent violence.
“This six-month boost in assistance will help Gaza’s health system respond to longer-term needs after thousands of residents were recently wounded in violence,” ICRC said in a statement.
The ICRC will send additional surgeons, nurses, physiotherapists, drugs and equipment, it added.
At least 118 Palestinians were killed and thousands of others injured by Israeli fire since the rallies called the “Great March of Return” started on March 30.
The rallies, along the borders between Gaza and Israel, demand the return of Palestinian refugees who were forced to leave their cities during the Arab-Israeli war in 1948 as well as lifting the blockade Israel has been imposing since 2007.
“Thousands of Gaza residents are confronting new, long-term medical needs that the health care system simply can’t handle,” the statement said, quoting Robert Mardini, ICRC’s regional director of operations for the Near and Middle East.
“This infusion of medical expertise and material will expedite the long road to recovery and relieve a stressed and overburdened health care system,” it said.
Since protests and associated violence flared, more than 13,000 Palestinians have been wounded, including more than 3,600 by live ammunition and nearly 5,400 limb injuries, according to the ICRC statement.
“The ICRC’s priority is to help gunshot wound victims. Some 1,350 people with complex cases will need three to five operations each, a total of more than 4,000 surgeries, half of which will be carried out by the ICRC teams,” the statement added.
The ICRC initiative, which will include the opening of a 50-bed surgical unit, is part of a budget extension worth 5.3 million U.S. dollars for Gaza.
The ICRC surgical teams and medical experts will be based in a wing of Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza.
Other hospitals in Gaza and the Palestine Red Crescent Society will also benefit from the assistance.