Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, May 2009
Israeli Missiles Haunt Palestinian Kid
By Khalid Amayreh
ccun.org, May 7, 2009
On 5 April, 2002, shortly after the Friday prayers, Mohammad, then only 9, underwent a near-death experience when an Israeli helicopter gunship fired two missiles at his father's car, parked outside the family home in downtown al-Khalil.
"I was cleaning and decorating our car in front of our home," Mohammad, who was inside the car, remembers vividly.
"A helicopter was hovering above our neighborhood. Then a few minutes later, the Apache fired a missile or two right at the car and I was engulfed in flames," adds the now-badly deformed boy.
"It was hell and I was in it."
As Mohammad's body was being consumed by the fire, his father, relatives and neighbors tried desperately to save him from what seemed like an inescapable death.Mohammad, utterly unconscious, soon found himself hanging loosely between life and death at the Ahli-hospital in al-Khalil.
There the initial prognosis showed he was suffering from "severe warfare burns over 90% of his body."
For the next five months, Mohammad lapsed into a deep comma and his family began to lose hope that he would survive.
Due to the restrictions imposed by Israel on Palestinian hospitals, including the purchase of modern medical equipment, he had to be immediately transferred to a better equipped hospital for a series of urgent plastic surgeries to restore his normal body functions.
After a protracted hesitation from Israeli military authorities, the boy was eventually transferred to the Hadassah hospital in West Jerusalem where he underwent several operations, including a colostomy and the amputation of all his fingers and toes and one ear.
According to a report issued by the Hadassah Department of Plastic surgery, Mohammad had partial thickness of face, neck, chest, abdomen, back, arms and legs."
Thanks to solicitations by some human rights organizations, the Israelis later allowed him to travel.
Mohammad was brought to Al-Qasr Al-Ayni's hospital in Cairo for additional treatment of his multiple deformities of the head, neck, trunk and limbs.
"When a doctor, named Ahmed Hashem, examined my son, he told me that Mohammad was not only my son but also his son," recalls the father, Abdul Hamid.
"He said that I didn't have to pay a penny for the treatment irrespective of how long the treatment would last."
Mohammad underwent several reconstructive operations which enabled him to stand up and walk slightly, giving him some hope and renewing his self- confidence.
"I salute this man's gallantry and generosity. He is a radiant example of a good Muslim and a charitable human being," says a visibly moved Abdul Hamid.
In March of this year, Mohammad spent four weeks at Al-Qasr Al-Ayni, undergoing ten operations all over his body.
When IOL met him this week after returning from Cairo, he was able to walk, but with a certain difficulty.
His hearing and eyesight are also near normal.
However, Mohammad still has a long way to go for a complete recovery, whatever that is supposed to mean given the severe and irreversible nature of his condition.
The Israeli army said the attack helicopter mistook Mohammad for a Palestinian resistance activist it was targeting.
Seven years on, it has not apologized, nor, indeed, conceded any responsibility.
Last month, the Haifa court, which had been deliberating the case since 2002, exonerated the army of responsibility for what happened to the Palestinian kid.
"It is a classical case of the judge being your enemy," laments Abdul Hamid, the distraught father.
"This has always been the case, they incinerate our children with hell-fire missiles, napalm and white phosphorus, and then they blame the victims."
He is ready to go to "the highest judicial authority" in the world to expose Israel which claims to be civilized and democratic while murdering innocent civilians at will.
"Just imagine if Mohammad was a Jewish child, imagine how the Israeli propaganda machine would use him to besmirch the Palestinian people and Muslims in general."
Abdul Hamid says he will eventually appeal to the International Criminal Court.
"If they could indict heads of states (an allusion to Sudanese President Omar al Bashir), they should likewise be able to indict and prosecute Israeli war criminals who have murdered and maimed our children on no other ground than the fact that they accord little or no value to a non-Jewish life," he fumes.
"It is not a matter of seeking compensation. As you see, nothing could compensate Mohammad for what befell him.
"But justice must be served, and I am determined to go to any extent to see that justice prevails."
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