How ‘Israel’ is Disabling Palestinian Teenagers
Survivors of ‘Israeli' live fire speak about ‘Israel's' 'kneecapping' practice of shooting youth in their lower limbs.
In the Dheisheh refugee camp, it is common to see Palestinian teenagers with deep scars dotting the length of their legs, while posters and murals of Palestinians martyred by ‘Israeli' forces adorn the concrete walls - testaments to a disturbing reality of routine ‘Israeli' violence in the camp.
International law prohibits the use of live ammunition on civilians, except as a last resort during an imminent threat of life. However, ‘Israeli' soldiers freely fire live bullets at Palestinians during confrontations or military raids.
Issa al-Mu'ti, 15: "I could not feel my legs - all I saw was blood"
I was 12. It was 2015. Clashes erupted with ‘Israeli' soldiers at the northern entrance of Bethlehem. I was at home with my family when I was notified that my younger brother had gone to participate in the clashes.
I was scared for him. He shouldn't have gone. I decided to go and find him and drag him back to the camp.
When I arrived, the clashes were ongoing. The ‘Israelis' were shooting tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets. But still, I continued searching for my brother. Suddenly, the soldiers opened up with live ammunition. I fell to the ground. I couldn't get up or move my legs. I looked around for help and saw the soldiers shooting at Palestinians who were running away.
An ‘Israeli' police dog began to attack me, biting my leg. I tried to fight it off, but then the soldiers came. They dragged me across the pavement and beat me, even kicked my legs. They didn't realize I was injured. When they saw my wounds, their faces twisted into shock, and they ran away from me.
I immediately looked down. My legs looked so scary. I couldn't feel anything - all I saw was blood. I found out later that I had been hit with two expanding bullets in each leg. The use of these bullets is illegal under international law.
Armed ‘Israeli' soldiers were stationed in my room the whole time and sometimes ‘Israeli' intelligence would come to the hospital and interrogate me about throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at soldiers.
The pain was excruciating. I had one surgery on my left leg and 20 surgeries on my right leg. My right leg had the worst injuries. The doctors told me that my veins had been destroyed by the bullets, so blood was not able to reach my leg.
I developed gangrene in the hospital and the doctors said they would need to amputate my leg.
At first, I refused. What could I do in my life with only one leg? I felt like my life would be ruined. But the pain from the gangrene worsened. My leg turned black and dried out. It got to the point that cutting it off felt like a relief.
The injuries changed everything in my life. I can't walk long distances. Before my injuries, I was working to help my family. We aren't a rich family, so it was important for me to contribute to the household. But now I can't do anything.
My family filed a criminal case against the ‘Israeli' soldiers.
Soon after, ‘Israeli' soldiers would come to our home and harass my father. He works at a bakery in Gush Etzion [one of ‘Israel's' illegal settlement blocs]. The soldiers are always threatening him, telling him that they will revoke his ‘Israeli' permit so he can't work anymore - which would destroy our family - or that they will detain me if my family doesn't drop the case.
I know that the soldiers will probably not be punished. But they permanently disabled me and shot me with internationally banned bullets. How could they not be held accountable?...
Additional reporting by Soud Hefawi.
Source: Al Jazeera, Edited by website team