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Terence English talks to MEE about coronavirus, Israeli neglect and the failures of UK policy in Gaza

Terence English is a celebrated British surgeon. In 1979 he performed the first successful heart transplant in the UK.

He has served as president of both the Royal College of Surgeons and the British Medical Association, and as the master of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. In 1991 he was recognised for his surgical achievements with a knighthood.

So when he retired 20 years ago, loaded with honours, he was fully entitled to put his feet up and dedicate himself to gardening at his home in Oxford. Instead, Terence English went to Gaza.

Terence English
Terence English, photographed in 2019 to mark the 40th anniversary of his groundbreaking heart transplant surgery in Cambridge (NHS Royal Papworth Hospital)

He first became involved with establishing training programmes in primary trauma care for Palestinian doctors. Since then, he and his surgical colleagues have helped establish various medical projects and to train local doctors.

One of the most important of these projects has helped hundreds of people in need of complex limb reconstruction surgery.

Gaza: The Palestinians who died during the Great March of Return

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Many of these patients were teenagers and young people who were shot in the legs by Israeli security forces as they took part in in the Great March of Return protests at the perimeter fence that hems in Gaza’s two million residents.

At least 190 people were shot dead over months of weekly protests, including at least 68 on 14 May 2018, when thousands of people in Gaza protested against the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem.

On the second anniversary of the start of those protests, and with the situation in Gaza more desperate than ever and complicated by the spreading coronavirus pandemic, English, now 87, has decided to speak out for the first time.

The British surgeon is sufficiently well connected to have had a chance to raise his concerns privately with senior UK government ministers in recent years. Yet nothing has come of his efforts, he said.

“Gaza now presents a critical humanitarian crisis,” English told Middle East Eye.

The marches in Gaza began on 30 March 2018, when Ahmed Abu Artema, a Palestinian journalist, called on Palestinian refugees to gather peacefully near the fence to demand the right to return to the lands from which they were forced to flee or expelled during the events that led to the creation of Israel in 1948.

The Israeli response was violent. “When the protests at the fence started, there were enormous numbers of injuries,” English recalled.

“Teenagers and young men were being shot through the knee area by Israeli snipers on the other side of the fence using high velocity bullets.”

He describes horrifying injuries involving smashed bone and tissue. Others were killed.

Sorgente: Renowned British surgeon says Gaza 2018 protest injuries still untreated | Middle East Eye

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