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A Canadian-Palestinian doctor was shot in the legs by an Israeli sniper and one of his paramedics was killed on the Gaza border Monday as clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli Defence Forces left dozens dead and more than 1,000 wounded.

Dr. Tarek Loubani, an emergency physician from London, Ont., who is also an associate professor at the University of Western Ontario’s medical school, joined medical teams on the Gaza border Monday to care for Palestinians who might be injured in demonstrations against the inauguration of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Dr. Loubani, who has served as an emergency field doctor in Tanzania and conflict zones such as Iraq and southern Lebanon, said he was wearing a green surgeon’s outfit and standing with several orange-vested paramedics about 25 metres from the protests at the border when he was hit.

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Pressure bandages are shown on Dr. Tarek Loubani's leg wounds, May 14, 2018.

courtesy Tarek Loubani

“I am very seasoned about not being shot at. I know where to stand. I know where to be. I know how not to get shot,” he told The Globe and Mail in a telephone interview from Gaza where he recuperating. “Snipers don’t reach me because of mistakes. I did everything right. We were all huddled. We were high visibility. It was quiet at the exact moment I got shot. The bullet went through my left leg, through my right leg out and hit the ground.

Had he been closer to the border area, Dr. Loubani, 37, said he believes it would have “cost me my legs.” The leg wounds will require months of rehabilitation but he said he feels “incredibly lucky.”

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Dr. Loubani, who is part of a medical team funded by the South African-based Shuttleworth Foundation that is field testing 3D-printed medical tourniquets, was helped by Palestinian paramedics on the scene, including 36-year old Musa Abuhassanin.

“I remember looking at my shoes and I remember thinking, ‘My god, how did so much blood get there so fast’,” he said. “One of them grabbed one of the last tourniquets. We were down to our last 10 tourniquets. I said ‘No, no leave it for someone else. Try to pressure bandage me.’ ’’

About an hour later, Mr. Abuhassanin was shot by a sniper while providing medical help to protesters north of where Dr. Loubani was shot. “There was relatively heavy fire that was going on. He was wearing a high visibility jacket. It was clearly marked. He was shot in the chest,” Dr. Loubani said. “They couldn’t remove him. They couldn’t recover him for about 30 minutes until finally they dragged him to a blind spot and then dragged him down a hill and took him to the hospital in a civilian vehicle. He died before he got to the hospital.”

Dr. Tarek Loubani (second from left) and Civil Defence Medic Musa Abuhassanin, (second from right).

courtesy Tarek Loubani

Dr. Loubani said the paramedics are well trained but they did not know how to treat a serious chest wound. He said he feels guilty because he is confident he could have saved his friend’s life if he had not been wounded.

Eighteen paramedics were wounded that day but Mr. Abuhassanin was the only one killed by Israeli forces.

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THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: graphic news;

united nations; haaretz; afp

gaza suffers worst violence in years

No fishing area

Fishing limit:

6 nautical miles

ISRAEL

Concrete wall

Erez

Crossing

May 14: 58 Palestinians killed

and thousands wounded during

protests against opening of

U.S. embassy in Jerusalem

Jabalia

Gaza

City

Malaka

MED. SEA

Israeli-declared

buffer zone

Main protest camps

No-go zone

(100m)

Deir

al Balah

High-risk zone

(100-300m)

GAZA

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Risk zone

(1,000m)

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Crossing

Razor-wire fence

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THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: graphic news; united

nations; haaretz; afp

gaza suffers worst violence in years

ISRAEL

No fishing area

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SEA

Concrete wall

Erez

Crossing

Fishing limit:

6 nautical

miles

May 14: 58 Palestinians killed

and thousands wounded during

protests against opening of

U.S. embassy in Jerusalem

Jabalia

Gaza

City

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protests since March 30

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THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: graphic news; united nations; haaretz; afp

Dr. Loubani stressed he did not want the story to be about him but about the lack of medical services in poverty-ridden Gaza.

“This is not a political issue. This is about Palestinians as people and their right to health care. No matter where they are, even at protests,” he said. “It is about us as Canadians being in places where people need medical care and providing it to them and not having to be worried about being shot or hurt or killed because we are doing what we all agree everyone deserves.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s office strongly condemned the Israeli action.

“We are very concerned that Canadian doctor and humanitarian worker Tarek Loubani was shot yesterday in Gaza,” press secretary Adam Austen said in a statement.

“It is appalling and inexcusable that civilians, members of the media, first responders, and children have been among the victims.”

Mr. Austen said Canadian consular officials were in touch with Dr. Loubani’s family. His brother, Mohammed, said the officials said they would help Dr. Loubani exit Gaza through Israel.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did not mention Dr. Loubani but told reporters in Edmonton on Tuesday that his thoughts are with the “victims of the terrible violence” in Gaza. Asked about the inauguration of the U.S. embassy, Mr. Trudeau said such “unilateral actions are unhelpful.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tweeted that he was “outraged” that Dr. Loubani had been shot by an Israeli sniper while providing medical services.

The Israeli embassy in Ottawa said the shooting of Dr. Loubani would be turned over to an Israeli Defence Forces fact-finding team.

Amnesty International said it appears that the Israeli military were killing and maiming demonstrators who posed no imminent threat to them.

“This is another horrific example of the Israeli military using excessive force and live ammunition in a totally deplorable way,” said Philip Luther, research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International . “This is a violation of international standards, in some instances committing what appear to be willful killings constituting war crimes.”

Human Rights Watch said the high number of deaths and injuries was the foreseeable consequence of granting Israeli soldiers leeway to use lethal force outside of life-threatening situations in violation of international norms.

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Even if some Palestinians were rock-throwing, this did not warrant the use of excessive force, Human Rights Watch said.

“Israeli soldiers were not merely using excessive force, but were apparently acting on orders that all but ensured a bloody military response to the Palestinian demonstrations,” said Eric Goldstein, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The result was foreseeable deaths and injuries of demonstrators on the other side of a border who posed no imminent threat to life.”

Amnesty International called on the international community to stop the shipment of arms and military equipment to Israel.

In 2013, Dr. Loubani and Toronto filmmaker John Greyson spent 53 days in an Egyptian jail without being charged with any offence. They were arrested because Dr. Loubani had treated a severely wounded man during protests at Cairo’s Ramses Square. At the time, the two men were on their way to Gaza, where Dr. Loubani regularly travels to to teach emergency medicine at al-Shifa hospital.

With files from Reuters and Associated Press

Shops are closed across East Jerusalem and the West Bank as Palestinians remember the day the state of Israel was created 70 years ago. Reuters
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