Palestinians show relentless resilience to the brutality of occupation and even after being handicap their aspirations for justice and freedom continues.
The long years of Israeli occupation that is marked by aggression and violence have left thousands of Palestinians physically disabled in one way or another.
However, despite the tragedy what is notable is that the spirits of these Palestinians for the struggle to free Palestine have continued and, in some instances, increased.
Mohammad Elewa, a Palestinian teenager, is an example of this. In 2018, Mohammed during the Great Return March demonstrations in Gaza, was shot by an Israeli sniper with live ammunitions in his right leg. Mohammad state “I can never forget the day I was shot; when the bullet pierced my leg like a lance. I looked down, saw a lot of blood and knew I was injured. I was in such agony”.
Mohammad emphasises we are forced to demonstrate, “because I love my country and I am trying to protect it. I wanted to show to the entire world that we have the right to our lands, the right to have our homes back, the right to lift this suffocating blockade on Gaza, and the right to end to the colonisation of Palestine.”
As most of the Great Return March demonstrators Mohammad was standing over 100 meters away from the border fence, peacefully raising the Palestinian flag, chanting slogans and national songs. When without any provocation the Israeli snipers started shooting erratically. At that moment, “I felt that I was in deadly danger and soon was wounded” states Mohammad. He continues to recall, “When I heard they had to amputate my leg, I was completely shattered. I am still so young! I would not be able to play football or anything else?” Mohammad confessed, remembering these painful, life-changing moments.
Mohammad underwent three surgeries, that included bone cutting and removal of dead flesh. Two of the surgeries were carried out in the Gaza Strip, while the third was carried out in Turkey. With the support of the family and a new prosthetic Mohammad gradually started making recovery.
Mohammad’s is not an isolated case, but since the beginning of the Great Return protests in March 2018, over 150 Palestinians have been murdered by the Israeli military and over 4,100 injured by Israeli bullets.
Mohammad aspires to be an international footballer with disabilities, and he wants to tell the world: “Champions don’t get tired of braving difficulties”. They have amputated his leg, but not his dreams. Most of the people with Mohammad’s injury might have given up from continuing with struggle for freedom and other activities. However, the tenacity of Mohammad has seen him play football and continue in the struggle for freedom of the Palestinian people.