Yousuf was no longer there

A Palestinian boy displays Israeli bullets after the Israeli withdrawal from Maghazi refugee camp, in the central Gaza Strip, July 22, 2006. (MaanImages/Thaeer al-Hassany)

“Yousef, Yousef, Yousef!” was how Aziza Mughari of the Alburaij refugee camp first reacted when news of her son’s death spread in her local community. Her son was being treated in the Israeli hospital of Ekhelof in Tel Aviv for critical injuries he sustained during an Israeli army incursion into the nearby refugee camp of Maghazi almost ten days ago. Because the hospital is inside Israel, Aziza was not able to visit her dying son.

“Who will bring me my medicine, who will do errands for me? Son, where are you? I don’t believe you are dead, they are liars,” Aziza, a sick mother, called again on Yousef, but Yousef was no longer there.

This was in the early hours of Monday, 31 July 2006, when Yousef Sa’dy Mughari, 20, was announced dead after battling severe wounds for ten days in that Israeli hospital, with only his uncle, Najeeb Mughari, allowed to be by his side as he died.

Crying, crying and more crying - this was the reaction among Yousef’s brothers, sisters, father, uncles and friends, when they all heard about his death that morning.

The 20-year-old dead young Palestinian, was a good-looking guy, with a smile always on his face. “Yousef has been loved not only by his close associates, but also by everybody,” a number of his friends recalled, with tears falling from their eyes.

His 49-year-old father, an ordinary poor Palestinian refugee, who used to work as a tailor at Karni crossing before it was closed by the Israeli authorities, said only a few words in reaction to his beloved son’s death, “I ask God’s mercy on him, wishing him to rest in peace. May God take revenge on those who shot him dead.”

From the early morning up till the evening hours, dozens of relatives, neighbors and friends were awaiting his arrival in a special condolence ceremony. When his coffin finally arrived, the waiting relatives could wait no longer. As the body was taken to a local hospital for routine checks, they all rushed to the hospital, with loudspeakers playing national folk songs, praising the young man’s ‘martyrdom’ on the path of freedom.

At the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in central Gaza, where Yousef’s dead body was being checked by doctors, Najeeb, 53, Yousef’s uncle (the one relative who had been allowed to accompany him to Ekhelof hospital in Israel), expressed bitterness for the loss of his nephew, saying the Israeli doctors and medical workers at the Ekhelof hospital appeared ashamed and disappointed of their government’s horrible actions in Gaza, due to the deadly injuries it has been inflicting on Palestinians.

Doctor Habes Alwehaidi, chief surgeon of Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital, who first treated Yousef on the scene last week, testified that the characteristics of the wounds that Yousef and his alike have sustained, are new to him and to Gaza doctors.

“We took multiple x-rays of the wounds of these people; five times we took x-rays, looking for any shrapnel, but we found nothing. We have never seen such wounds during the current or the first Intifada of 1987 or even just six months ago,” Dr. Alwehaidi maintained.

“No doubt, the weapons the Israelis are currently using are illegal under international law,” Dr. Alwehaidi confirmed.

Yousef, along with four others wounded from the Maghazi refugee camp, were being treated at the Israeli hospital, due to Gaza’s hospitals’ inability to deal with such injuries. While the doctors in Gaza are extremely competent, they lack equipment and even electricity due to the ongoing Israeli attack and closure. Scores of Palestinians have had to have limbs amputated, after having been shot and wounded by Israeli drones and tank shells in the Maghazi refugee camp.

Israeli occupation forces invaded Maghazi last week, killing several and wounded more than 130 others in a massive military action that also brought a great deal of destruction to this approximately two square-kilometer camp, all under the pretext of liberating an Israeli soldier who has been held by Palestinian resistance fighters since June 25. All Palestinians in Gaza are being punished for the unprecedented Palestinian resistance attack on an Israeli military base south of the Gaza Strip.

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    Rami Almeghari is currently a Senior Translator at the Translation Department of the Gaza-based State Information Service (SIS) and former Editor in Chief of the SIS-linked International Press Center’s English site. He can be contacted at