My friend Andrew Rubin is an amputee. He’s lost his right hand, lower arm, right foot, and lower leg.
He used to be an avid runner and cyclist. He can’t do much of that anymore, although his walking is getting much better. Soon he might be able to run with his artificial leg.
Andrew is incredibly lucky.
The medical catastrophe that left his hand and foot so terribly damaged didn’t kill him. But when his limbs never healed even after a decade, he decided to undergo the amputations. It was his choice, and it was made much easier because he knew what lay ahead: the most advanced artificial limbs ever imagined. The kids call him Bionic Man now.
Andrew is lucky for another reason: He doesn’t live in Gaza.
According to the United Nations, 1,700 young Gazans are facing amputation, mainly of their legs, in the next two years. They’re among the 7,000 unarmed Palestinians in Gaza shot by Israeli snipers over the last year.
Since last spring, thousands of Palestinians in Israeli-occupied Gaza have poured out of their teeming refugee camps and houses every Friday to join nonviolent protests, demanding an end to the siege that’s destroying their lives, and the right to return to the homes Israel displaced them from.
Even though they were nonviolent, they were met by Israeli snipers from the beginning. Children, journalists, and medics were targeted too.
International law prohibits using live fire against unarmed civilians unless the police or soldiers are in imminent danger of death. That’s not the case in Gaza. A UN investigation of 189 killings during the first nine months of the protests found that Israeli forces may have committed war crimes.
More than 220 Palestinians have been killed so far. Stunningly, more than 29,000 have been wounded — including those 7,000 by live fire. So far, 120 have had to endure amputations — including 20 children.
Anyplace else, their limbs might’ve been saved.
But Gaza has been under Israeli military siege for more than 10 years. Hospitals are massively under-equipped,