How Israel killed a disabled man

Muhammad al-Salak and his children

Muhammad al-Salak suffered enormously because of Israel’s wars against Gaza. In the current war, he has been killed at the age of 48.

After Israel ordered residents of northern Gaza to evacuate their homes in October, Muhammad insisted on staying put.

Muhammad – also known as Abu Al-Abd – was a resident of the Shujaiya neighborhood in Gaza City.

His neighbor and close friend Muhammad Abu Bayd left Shujaiya and went to Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, following Israel’s evacuation orders. Muhammad Abu Bayd did his best to keep in touch with Muhammad al-Salak, although it was very difficult given that internet access has been restricted for most people over the past few months.

“I constantly asked him to leave his home and move south,” Muhammad Abu Bayd said. “But he would not agree.”

In December, Israeli forces stormed Muhammad al-Salak’s home in Shujaiya. He was arrested.

When Khuloud, his wife, objected to his arrest, she was shot and killed. Muhammad al-Salak was killed several days later, according to Muhammad Abu Bayd.

The al-Salak family was directly affected when Israel subjected Shujaiya to relentless shelling in July 2014. Muhammad’s three children were massacred.

Because of his injuries then, Muhammad lost his right leg.

His neighbor and close friend Muhammad Abu Bayd recalled that “he always talked about his children and said that he wanted to meet them again soon in heaven.”

Muhammad Abu Bayd also lost one of his legs in 2014. “When I lost my leg, I felt that my life was over,” he said.

Yet the two Muhammads joined forces to set up a football team for amputees. They were also involved in a basketball team for wheelchair users.

“He filled the place with joy and we laughed a lot,” Muhammad Abu Bayd, 37, says of his friend. “We felt that he would light up everything with his personality.”

“All the amputees felt that he was like a father to us,” he added. “When one of us got angry during games and exercises, he tried to calm us down.” Muhammad al-Salak used to work as a taxi driver. He originally bought his car in installments and provided a taxi service to support his family.

After losing his leg, would bring fellow amputees for drives on the seashore.

“Despite everything Abu al-Abd [Muhammad al-Salak] lived through, he was a patient and wise man,” Muhammad al-Bayd said. “I will miss him greatly.”

Ruwaida Amer is a journalist based in Gaza.