Ramallah, November 6, 2018—A 13-year-old Palestinian boy from Gaza City died November 3 from a severe spinal cord injury sustained more than four years earlier from an Israeli drone-launched missile strike that also killed other members of the child’s family, including his twin brother and father.
Mohammad Naser Ziad al-Reefi was pronounced dead in Al-Wafa Rehabilitation hospital in the Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza City, in the central part of the Gaza Strip early Saturday morning. He was originally wounded while irrigating agricultural fields with a group of his family members. Seven al-Reefi family members, including five children, were killed on the spot or in following days as a result of Israel’s August 21, 2014 missile strike.
“We went to the land to pick out sweet corn cobs in order to boil them when we go back home,” Mohammad's uncle, Tariq al-Reefi told Defense for Children International - Palestine, in January 2015.
“My brother Naser [Mohammad’s father] and I started picking out sweet corn cobs,” said al-Reefi. “My brother Mohammad was taking them from us to the vehicle, while the six children were standing by the fig tree. At this moment, I heard a whistling sound similar to that of a missile.”
Tareq al-Reefi said the missile struck about two meters (7 feet) from where the children were standing, knocking him to the ground and injuring him. Mohammad’s father, Naser al-Reefi, and his 9-year-old twin brother, Omar Naser Ziad al-Reefi, were both killed.
Shrapnel struck Mohammad’s spine, causing quadriplegia. The injury also left Mohammad reliant on medical devices for breathing and other functions.
Ziad al-Reefi, the child’s grandfather, told DCIP that Mohammad was treated in Al-Shifa hospital for two months, then transferred to Al-Quds hospital for medical tests. In 2015, he was admitted to Al-Wafa Rehabilitation hospital but his condition did not improve, his grandfather said. After a period of critical deterioration, Mohammad was pronounced dead at approximately 7:00 a.m. on November 3, 2018.
Last December, nine-year-old Mohammad Abu Hdaf, also died from shrapnel injuries to his spine sustained three years earlier during an Israeli drone strike in Al-Qarara, east of Khan Younis, on August 8, 2014.
Israel’s Operation Protective Edge lasted 50 days during the summer of 2014 and killed 2,220 Palestinians, of whom at least 1,492 were civilians, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
DCIP previously verified 547 Palestinian child fatalities during Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip, at least 68 percent of whom were under the age of twelve. Of this number, at least 164 children died as a result of Israeli drone strikes.