Gaza child unable to walk because of Israeli bullet

Soldiers frequently fire towards Palestinians who venture close to the boundary between Gaza and present-day Israel.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Fourteen-year-old Fadi Abu Mandi is unable to walk because of Israel’s routine violence against Palestinians in Gaza.

On Friday, 24 April, Fadi had been asked to study for school exams by his father Akram in their home in the Maghazi refugee camp. Fadi had just returned from watching a soccer match in Nuseirat, another camp.

Suddenly, the boy felt a pain in his back. He could not move, so Akram rushed him to hospital.

Fadi was struck by a bullet fired on Palestinian farmers by Israeli soldiers. The bullet appears to have entered his family’s home through a corner that was not roofed. Fadi had been sitting in that corner, his father told The Electronic Intifada.

Initially, Fadi was brought to al-Aqsa Hospital, which is close to Maghazi. After three hours there, he was transferred to al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza. He remained there until the following Monday, when he was moved to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Fadi has been operated on in Musallam Specialty Hospital in Ramallah. He has lost most of the mobility in his left leg and is expected to require a considerable amount of physiotherapy.

Speaking to The Electronic Intifada by phone, Fadi said he missed his family and friends and was very sad that he would probably not be taking his final school exams for this year.

“I hope that the Israeli siege is lifted so that we can start feeling safe inside our own homes,” he added.

Hole in spine

Akram stated that an M16 bullet was removed from Fadi’s spine during surgery. “The bullet caused a small hole into Fadi’s spine yet doctors said he will start recovering in a few weeks,” Akram added.

M16 bullets are widely used in the Israeli military’s rifles.

Soldiers frequently fire towards Palestinians who venture close to the boundary between Gaza and present-day Israel. This is despite commitments given by Israel following its 51-day attack on Gaza last summer that it would enlarge the “buffer zone” beside the boundary so that Palestinian farmers would be able to access their land.

The bullets used by Israel can travel long distances, inflicting serious injuries on or even killing those they hit. Fadi was about 2.5 kilometers from the boundary when he was shot.

“It was totally unexpected,” said Fayza, Fadi’s mother. “I was doing my regular household chores when Akram screamed and came out of the room, carrying Fadi between his arms and moving towards the front door. God must punish those who shot and wounded my child.”

Fathi Abu Daher, who is also 14 years old, said: “My friend and neighbor Fadi is such a lovely person. He does not make anyone angry. He likes to help others, especially old people. I feel so sorry that he is now lying in a hospital bed because of that stray bullet.

“We, the children of Gaza, are the same as children anywhere else in the world. Why are the Israelis attacking us, even inside our homes?”

Rami Almeghari is a journalist and university lecturer based in the Gaza Strip.