Artificial limbs change lives for wounded Gaza protesters

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Palestinian boy Abdel-Rahman Nofal, 12, who, according to medics, lost his left leg after he was shot by Israeli forces during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border, plays soccer outside his house in the central Gaza Strip April 1, 2019. (Reuters)
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Palestinian woman Nazeeha Qudieh, 38, who, according to medics, lost her right leg after she was shot by Israeli forces during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border, puts on her artificial limb at her house in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip April 1, 2019. (Reuters)
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Palestinian boy Abdel-Rahman Nofal, 12, who, according to medics, lost his left leg after he was shot by Israeli forces during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border, plays with his brother outside their house in the central Gaza Strip April 1, 2019. Picture taken April 1, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 08 April 2019

Artificial limbs change lives for wounded Gaza protesters

  • Palestinians have protested frequently on Israel border
  • More than 130 amputations performed on wounded protesters

GAZA: Walking up and down stairs at a Gaza medical center, Palestinian amputees are learning to use their new artificial limbs after being wounded by Israeli fire at border protests.
The Health Ministry in the Hamas Islamist-run territory said 136 wounded Palestinians have undergone amputations since the demonstrations began in March 2018.
“It was only one bullet, one bullet turned my life upside down,” said Abdallah Qassem, 17, struggling to stand steady while trying on his new artificial legs.
Qassem said the bullet struck one leg and then penetrated the other as he sat on the ground with friends at a rally on May 14, the day the United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, fueling Palestinian anger.
“I had dreamt of becoming a photojournalist but I aim to study computer science,” he told Reuters.
The Gaza Artificial Limb and Polio Center is run by the Gaza municipality. On its first floor, technicians were producing limbs with material from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Protesters at the demonstrations are demanding the end to a security blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel and Egypt, and want Palestinians to have the right to return to land from which their families fled or were forced to leave during Israel’s founding in 1948.
Around 200 Gazans have been killed by Israeli troops so far in the protests, according to Palestinian Health Ministry figures. An Israeli soldier was also killed by a Palestinian sniper in July.
UN investigators say Israel has used excessive force. Israel says it has no choice but to use deadly force to protect the border from militants and infiltrators.
In the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, Suhaib Qudeih and his sister Nazeeha each lost a leg to Israeli gunfire.
“Before the injury, I used to work and make 4,000 shekels ($1,100 a month). I used to bring the sweetest food to my children. Now I can’t get them most of what they ask for,” the 33-year-old man told Reuters.
He needs more surgery to make sure an artificial right leg can fit well. His sister has already had her artificial limb fitted.
The World Health Organization said 6,872 Gazans suffered gunshot wounds, mostly to the limbs, in the past year of protests.
With funding from the European Union, the WHO is helping Palestinians set up a limb reconstruction unit in Nasser hospital in southern Gaza. It is expected to open as early as next month.
“This center is focused around restoring people’s lives, preventing amputations, and making sure that they are able to move again,” Sara Halimah, WHO trauma manager, said.
Halimah said each of the patients will need up to two years of treatment.
“If this center is not established and if we don’t have the correct treatment centers for controlling the infection rates, then we will see this amputation rate go through the roof, it will skyrocket,” Halimah told Reuters at Nasser hospital.


Lebanese celebrities join Beirut protests as anger rises over tax reforms

Updated 19 October 2019

Lebanese celebrities join Beirut protests as anger rises over tax reforms

  • A video emerged on social media showing actress Nadine Al-Rassi preparing to set fire to a car tire in downtown Beirut
  • In a series of tweets, Lebanese recording artist Elissa, who is abroad, supported the protesters’ demands

BEIRUT: Lebanese celebrities joined thousands of protesters on the streets of Beirut on Saturday to voice their anger at the country’s ruling elite.
Singers, actors and playwrights were among a host of high-profile artists who backed demands for action over government corruption and to counter Lebanon’s spiralling economic crisis.
Beirut has been shrouded in smoke for three days following widespread protests and rioting over government tax plans.
A video emerged on social media showing actress Nadine Al-Rassi preparing to set fire to a car tire in downtown Beirut and crying inconsolably about her financial state.
The actress, wearing jeans and her face blackened, told protesters: “I am Nadine Al-Rassi. I was hungry for seven days. I have debts. Banque du Liban (Lebanon’s central bank) seized my house and I am unable to rent a home. Corrupt people should be held responsible.”


In a series of tweets, Lebanese recording artist Elissa, who is abroad, supported the protesters’ demands, saying: “This is the first time I wish I were in Lebanon. My heart is with you.”
In another tweet, the high-profile singer, one of the Middle East’s best-selling performers, said: “I proudly follow the news of Beirut and its citizens ... who are demanding a decent life. It is time for people to get back their dignity.”
Meanwhile, singer and composer Ragheb Alama expressed his dismay at a Council of Ministers plan to impose a daily fee on WhatsApp calls.
“The people’s misfortunes are not funny. Why don’t you tax the polluted air people breathe? It is a great idea that brings money to your fathers’ treasury, too,” he wrote.
Alama accused the Parliament of responsibility for the country’s dire economy: “Why do deputies receive money, privileges and overheads, and what have they done? They covered up for looting and stealing for decades. They are responsible for destroying the economy and the country.”
Nancy Ajram, one of the Arab world’s most popular singers, wrote on Twitter: “My heart goes out to my country every moment and with every heartbeat. We are a people who deserves to live and it is our right to live with dignity. May God protect Lebanon.”
Singer and actress Haifa Wehbe tweeted: “There is nothing better than the Lebanese people when they stand in unity and under one slogan, without any political affiliation. We are all for our country.”
Comedian and prime-time TV host Hisham Haddad was among celebrities who joined protesters at Riad El-Solh Square, near the Prime Minister’s office, site of the biggest centralized demonstrations.
Actress Maguy Bou Ghosn, singer Moeen Shreif, actors Abdo Chahine, Badih Abou Chakra and Junaid Zeineldine, playwright Ziad Itani and musician Ziyad Sahhab also joined the protests.
Actor Wissam Hanna called on Twitter for protesters to close the Beirut Airport road to stop corrupt officials fleeing the country.
“I am all for closing down the airport road to stop thieves from fleeing. I am all for recovering stolen funds. Lebanon rises, revolts and it is time to hold them accountable,” he wrote.
Actress Gretta Aoun said: “We have to take to the streets. They must know the extent of our pain.”