Monday, March 4, 2024

Over 5k Israeli soldiers wounded and ‘disabled’ in Gaza fighting: Report

More than 5,000 Israeli soldiers have been wounded in fighting in Gaza since 7 October, while Israeli officials are warning of a looming mental health crisis, according to a report.

Specialists from Israel’s Ministry of Defence said its rehabilitation department had received 60 wounded soldiers every day since the start of the war in Gaza.

Limor Luria, deputy director general and head of the ministry’s Rehabilitation Department, told Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that at least 2,000 Israeli soldiers had been declared disabled, with health officials “in a hurry to release the wounded so it can admit new patients”.

“We have never faced something like this,” Luria said, adding that 5,000 soldiers had been wounded since the start of the fighting.

“Who will help them shower or get around the house? Most of the victims suffered serious injuries, and the state needs to understand that there is an arena here that requires a new distribution of injuries.”

Luria added that nearly 60 percent of the wounded have suffered from severe wounds to their hands and feet, including those who have required amputations.

Around 12 percent of injuries consist of damage to the spleen, kidneys, and rupture of internal organs, the official said.

Luria also warned of a looming mental health crisis that will impact Israeli soldiers who come back from Gaza, saying that cases of post-traumatic stress disorder and other trauma-related issues will “skyrocket” in the next few months.

Idan Kaliman, who heads the Israeli army’s disabled people’s organisation, echoed Luria’s concerns.

“There is a huge mass of wounded here, even before the wave of post-trauma that will wash over us in about a year,” Kaliman told Yedioth Ahronoth.

“Israel has not experienced this level of trauma since our war of independence. First responders and soldiers have been exposed to horrific sights since the beginning of the war. [Disabled] veterans of previous wars say that this is the first time they know of someone who has experienced something more challenging. In the end, it is not just a war on the battlefield, but soldiers who fought inside Israel, on the lawn of the kibbutz, in their homes.”

At least 420 Israeli soldiers have been killed since 7 October, according to the military.

During that same period at least 17,500 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the local ministry of health, with many thousands more presumed dead. Around 46,000 have been wounded.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces have killed at least 270 people in the occupied West Bank, and wounded around 3,500 others.

Since a truce collapsed last week, Israel has expanded its ground campaign into the southern half of the Gaza Strip by launching the storming of Khan Younis.

The vast majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have already been forced from their homes, many fleeing several times. With fighting raging across the length of the territory, residents and UN agencies say there is now effectively nowhere safe to go.

Israel has blocked Palestinians in Gaza from fleeing along the main north-south route down the spine of the narrow strip, and is shunting them instead towards the Mediterranean coast.

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