Gaza (CNN)Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sitta peers through his black-rimmed glasses at an X-ray. "Not very good," he quips. "See how the pieces are?" he says to hospital staff, pointing at the fuzzy image.
He's treated thousands. The surgeon who keeps returning to Gaza
He leans over to cut his patient's bandages, letting out a sigh. Infection is inevitable, he says, in these "high-energy devitalizing injuries," his way of describing the damage done by Israeli sniper bullets to the human body.
Eighteen-year-old Maddah is just one of many patients Abu-Sitta has treated since Palestinians began a series of protests known as the "Great March of Return." Confrontations between Israeli troops and the protesters worsened Monday as tensions soared over the United States' relocation of its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Maddah, propping himself up in bed, looks warily at the doctor, not understanding his explanation in English to the staff at Gaza's Al-Awda hospital. Maddah was shot on March 30, when the Great March of Return began.
Bandages wrap around Maddah's lower leg, which bristles with external fixation pins. As Abu-Sitta lifts his leg, Maddah winces in pain.
On Thursday alone, Abu-Sitta saw a steady stream of patients, and he has treated perhaps thousands since first coming to Gaza as a medical student during the First Intifada in the late 1980s. He returned to treat the injured in the Second Intifada, the 2008-2009 war, the 2012 war, the 2014 war -- and now this. He rattles off the list of uprisings and wars without a moment's hesitation.
Abu-Sitta serves as director of the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Department at the prestigious American University of Beirut Hospital, where he says he spends 40% of his time treating the war wounded from Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, plus old wounds from Lebanon's civil war and a succession of wars after that.
"Unfortunately," he says, "we have to accept that war injuries are now an endemic disease in the region."
The night before we met Abu-Sitta, a senior member of Hamas' political bureau, Salah al-Bardaweel, told Gaza TV station Baladna that 50 of at least 60 people killed in clashes on Monday were Hamas "martyrs." Israeli officials jumped on the statement as proof Hamas had organized the entire event as a cynical publicity stunt.
CNN asked Abu-Sitta about the Hamas leader's claim. He shrugged, suggesting desperation and hopelessness were the fuel for the protests, regardless of who may have playe