By Olivia Watson*
Ramallah, March 4, 2014—An unarmed Palestinian child was gravely wounded and left without medical attention for three hours after Israeli soldiers opened fire on him at the Gaza border.
On February 21, 11-year-old Fadel Abu Odwan was on his way to help his brother bring in the sheep from their grazing area near the Gaza border fence. Israeli soldiers approached and opened fire on him, leaving him to lie bleeding and unable to move, in full view of the soldiers, for three hours before medical attention was sought.
Speaking to DCI-Palestine from hospital, Fadel recalls lying on the ground after he was shot in the leg and the groin while running away from the soldiers. “I would lift my hand and look up and see the sky, and realise I was not dead yet, so I would close my eyes again and wait for death.” He remembers his thoughts vividly. “I was thinking I am going to die, I am going to be a martyr.”
On the way to meet his brother, Fadel had been stopped by three Palestinian officers stationed at their usual spots near the fence. They took the slingshot that he carries for hunting birds and proceeded to play with it, shaking it at the fence and using it to throw stones, ignoring his requests that they return it.
Fadel describes how at that point two Israeli military jeeps approached from the other side of the border at full speed. “I started running so fast because I was scared of them and thought they would shoot us. I ran for about 100 meters (328 feet) away from the fence.” He was brought to a halt by the bullet, which passed through his groin and lodged itself in his left leg.
He lay bleeding for an hour before he heard an Israeli soldier calling to him, telling him to crawl toward them. When it became apparent that Fadel was unable to move, the soldier went to cut the fence, but was given orders to stop. Fadel was left alone losing blood for a further hour, 150 meters (492 feet) away from the fence and the two Israeli jeeps and a tank stationed there.
As it got darker, Fadel heard dogs barking. “I looked around and saw eight black dogs sniffing about three metres (10 feet) away from me. I realised they were about to eat me because they sniffed the blood. I could not defend myself because with every move, I felt excruciating pain.” The soldiers fired shots to ward off the dogs, but no attempts to provide medical attention were made.
Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCI-Palestine said, “This is a horrific example of Israeli soldiers injuring children with impunity. When a child is shot and left for hours without being given medical attention the perpetrators must be brought to justice.”
After three hours, Fadel was rescued by his brother and cousins and taken to hospital. His medical report shows that he underwent surgery to remove his testicles and was subsequently placed in intensive care. Fadel’s doctor said, “This injury will cause Fadel lifelong physical and psychological damage, and will certainly affect his ability to marry and have children.”
Fadel is now one of the many children to have been injured by Israeli forces at the Gaza border fence, with the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) documenting at least six children wounded and one killed in shootings in the area since the beginning of 2014.
“They shot me for no reason,” said Fadel, who remains in hospital. “They could have rescued me, but they just left me there for three hours. I will never forget what they did to me.”
*Olivia Watson is a freelance contributor to Defence for Children International Palestine.
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