Israel-Palestine war: Thousands of Israeli soldiers wounded and ‘disabled’ in Gaza fighting

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Meanwhile, the UN warns that half of Gaza’s population is currently starving, as the death toll – which has reached more than 17,100 Palestinians – continues to climb

Limor Luria, who heads the rehabilitation department at the Israeli Ministry of Defence, said at least 5,000 Israeli soldiers have been wounded since 7 October (Reuters)
By MEE staff

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, an Israeli newspaper reported on Saturday.

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.

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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 17,177 people – including 7,112 children – 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 266 people in the occupied West Bank, and wounded around 3,365 others.

Israel’s ground offensive

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.

In Khan Younis, Nasser and another southern hospital, al Aqsa in Deir al-Balah, reported 133 dead and 259 wounded between them in the past 24 hours.

More than 50 health facilities and nearly 200 ambulances have been targeted by Israeli attacks.

Meanwhile, in a vote at the UN on Friday, 13 of the Security Council’s 15 members backed a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It was blocked by Washington’s veto, while Britain abstained.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the United State’s decision to veto the resolution made it complicit in “war crimes” against Palestinians.

A statement released by the PA presidency said Abbas held the US responsible for the bloodshed of Palestinian children, women and the elderly in Gaza.

UN officials warned that half of the population of Gaza is starving and said its humanitarian operation in the besieged territory is collapsing.

Carl Skau, the deputy executive director of the UN World Food Programme, told Reuters that it is building up “enough food aid in Egypt and Jordan to reach one million people in Gaza in a month”.

“Half of the population are starving, nine out of 10 are not eating every day. Obviously the needs are massive,” he said.

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Disclaimer: Israel-Palestine war: Thousands of Israeli soldiers wounded and 'disabled' in Gaza fighting - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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