The Heartbreaking Reason This Palestinian Joined the Gaza Border Protests

by Gideon Levy

A young father of two is hospitalized with serious injuries after being shot by Israeli soldiers during a Gaza border rally. In 2014, the IDF destroyed his home, and he was left with nothing.

The full scale of the harrowing despair of the Gaza Strip is embodied in a haggard young man in the surgical ward on the third floor of Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron. Two rounds fired by Israel Defense Forces snipers left him seriously wounded, internal organs blown apart, his right leg shattered. Only his mother is by his side in this narrow room, which is starkly empty apart from the old hospital bed he’s lying in, and a fake leather sofa that’s even older and more tattered. There’s no television set, no radio, no one comes to visit, there’s no place to move around, and he has no money to buy a cup of coffee in the cafeteria.

The patient is Ibrahim al-Masri, one of the hundreds who have suffered serious wounds in the Gaza demonstrations of the past month, and one of the very few who has been allowed to undergo medical treatment in the West Bank. Indeed, he is the only Gaza resident hospitalized in Hebron.

Alone, distraught, penniless, now also disabled -- Masri has no chance in life. The despair in Hebron isn’t any easier to bear, and he’s already waiting to return to Gaza, which is utterly indifferent to him. A visit to him is like a descent into hell.

Twenty-three years old, he’s married to Faiza and the father of a 3-year-old daughter, Lama, and a son of 9 months, Sami. A young couple plus two in the Gaza Strip 2018, without a home and without a job, now also with a disabled husband and father. Rehab, his mother, is the only person whom Israel allowed to leave the cage of Gaza with him; now the two are imprisoned in this cramped room, where no one comes to visit or offer support.

Masri says he hardly speaks with his children by phone: The little one is just a baby and he has nothing to say to the 3 year-old. “What will I tell her? That our life has been destroyed?” When she saw him in serious condition in the Indonesia Hospital in Sheikh Ziyad in Gaza, where he was taken originally, she was badly frightened, ran to her mother’s arms and cried until they left.

ion has improved, he says now. According to his doctors, he will be able to return to Gaza in another week or so. Where will he undergo rehabilitation? No one knows. Masri has also been told that it will take time before he can walk and get around, in general. He would like to return to Gaza for a few days, because he and his mother have run out of money and he has no change of clothing, and in Hebron everything is expensive. But it’s very unlikely that Israel will allow him to return to the West Bank again after his release.

They arrived here with 250 shekels ($70), which neighbors loaned them, and nothing remains. Masri is sorry now that he went to demonstrate. His mother says he did it in order to vent his anger. He corrects her: “What did it help? So many young people have become cripples, and no one cares.”

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