On the afternoon of February 21, 2014, 11-year-old Fadel Abu Odwan was on his way to help his brother bring their sheep in for the night. The flock was grazing on land near the Sufa crossing between the southern Gaza Strip and Israel.
Before reaching his brother, Fadel was stopped by three Palestinian officers stationed at their usual spot.
The officers took Fadel’s slingshot, which he carries for hunting birds, and began to play with it.
Suddenly, Fadel saw two Israeli military jeeps speeding toward them from the other side of the border.
“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.”
The soldiers opened fire, injuring Fadel in his groin and leg.
Fadel was left bleeding on the ground, unable to move, for three hours.
“I would lift my hand and look up and see the sky, and realize I was not dead yet, so I would close my eyes again and wait for death.”
After about an hour, feral dogs began to approach him.
Interviewer: “Did anything approach you during the time you were lying on the ground?”
Fadel: “Yes, two dogs and my brother on a motorcycle. Soldiers started shooting at him and the two dogs.”
Interviewer: “There were soldiers watching you while you were bleeding?”
Fadel: “A soldier asked me to crawl towards him so that he could rescue me.”
Interviewer: “What did you say to him?”
Fadel: “I told him I could not. He asked me to crawl and I told him I could not.”
Interviewer: “Did he come to rescue you?”
Fadel: “No. The soldier got off the jeep and wanted to cut through the fence to reach me but then another soldier shouted to him and ordered him not to do it. Then my brother Ala’ came on the motorcycle. It was getting dark. Soldiers started shooting at him and the dogs. I said ‘Oh God’ and closed my eyes. Then my brother came with my cousin and the two neighbors.”
Later that evening, Fadel’s brother returned in a car with two neighbors and a cousin. They rushed Fadel to the hospital where he underwent surgery to remove his testicles, before being placed in intensive care.
“This injury will cause Fadel lifelong physical and psychological damage, and will certainly affect his ability to marry and have children.” Fadel’s doctor said.
“They shot me for no reason,” said Fadel. “They could have rescued me, but they just left me there for three hours. I will never forget what they did to me.”
“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.” – Ayed Abu Eqtaish, Accountability Program director at DCI-Palestine
Fadel is one of several children who have been injured by Israeli forces near the Gaza border fence in 2014, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reporting at least 16 children wounded and one killed by live ammunition in the surrounding area.
More than 1,500 Palestinian children in the West Bank were injured by “weapons other than live ammunition” between January 2011 and December 2013, according to a recent report by the human rights group Amnesty International.
At least 67 children were “shot and severely injured by live ammunition fired by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank” in the same time period.
Prayer: The God of Hope, we seek you. We ask you for physical healing of the children who have been injured but also spiritual and psychological healing from the violence that happens in Gaza. Protect these children, and all the children in the Holy Land from the effects of the conflict. There is so much suffering and loss of innocence, and we ask that you show us how we can continue to help. Show us what tangible ways you call on us to help the children of Gaza. Heal their suffering. Heal the Holy Land of it’s turmoil, Lord. We ask these things in your name.
This story was initially shared on Defense for Children International – Palestine’s website and is reprinted here with permission. CMEP is very thankful for the writers who contribute to our Prayers for Peace blog. However, CMEP does not necessarily agree with all the positions of our writers, and they do not speak on CMEP’s behalf.