By Lia Tarachansky, The Real News Network – 14 Sept 2011
A month after recent escalation between Israel and Gaza two Palestinian children in critical condition in an Israeli hospital.
A month after the recent escalation between Israel and Gaza following a terror attack on Southern Israel by unidentified assailants dozens remain wounded. Two Gazan children, hit by a drone missile, were transferred to an Israeli hospital alongside their fathers. The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky spoke with Muhammad Zaza, 14, who survived the attack but sustained significant burns and wounds and his father Ataf in Kaplan hospital in Rehovot. Tarachansky also spoke with Adnan, the father of Ibrahim Zaza, 12, Muhammad’s cousin who was also severely injured in the attack. Ibrahim lost both his hands and remains in a coma. Because of Israel’s non-association with Hamas, such patients’ hospital bills are typical paid for by the Palestinian Authority. Lt. Col. Avital Liebovitz, the Israeli army spokesperson refused to comment on the incident.
LIA TARACHANSKY, TRNN: In mid-August, unidentified assailants from Egypt attacked Israeli civilians, killing eight. Immediately after, the Israeli Air Force began bombing Gaza, despite (as The Real News showed in previous stories) little evidence connecting the assailants from Egypt to Gaza. In the aerial bombardment, nearly 20 Palestinians were killed, including three children. Dozens were injured. On August 19, cousin Hamid and Ibrahim from the Zaza family in northern Gaza were hit by a missile. According to eyewitnesses on the scene, they were hit by silent drone. After ten days in Shifa Hospital in Gaza, they were transferred to Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot Israel, alongside their fathers. The Real News met with Adnan Zaza, the father of 12-year-old Ibrahim, who is still in a coma 22 days after the attack.
ADNAN ZAZA (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): I was invited to our relatives’, and while I was on my way there, we got a call saying they are at the hospital, Shifa Hospital. We came and saw the children in a very bad condition. They both underwent surgery, and Ibrahim lost both his hands, and he has a hole in his lungs. Both his hands are gone, he has a hole in his lungs, and his kidneys are in a very bad condition. We only want God to help them, and we’re hoping to get artificial limbs for Ibrahim.
TRNN (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): How many children do you have?
ZAZA: Six, and with Ibrahim, seven.
TRNN: Do you get to speak to your wife?
ZAZA: A little. I mean, one day I call her, one day she calls me. Every day the situation deteriorates and gets worse than the day before.
TRNN: And you were transferred with him. Are you allowed to exit the hospital?
ZAZA: No, I’m only allowed to be in the hospital. I’m not allowed to leave the hospital, because my permit is only for this building.
TRNN: You’re with him this entire time?
ZAZA: Yes, I am by his side. I check up on Muhammad and him. But the children are in a very bad condition.
TRNN: Does he know you’re here?
ZAZA: I don’t know. Since I brought him here he’s received 30 units of blood. The situation’s bad. We found another problem: because his legs don’t get blood, they turned green. They might cut off his legs as well. He’s in a very bad condition.
TRNN: I notice he’s connected to a lot of machines. Which of his organs is still functioning?
ZAZA: Nothing works. Only his heart works, and the rest is on machines. He depends on 15 devices. Without them he would die.
TARACHANSKY: Due to Ibrahim’s critical condition, I wasn’t able to film him, but he was transferred with his 15-year-old cousin Muhammad to the same hospital, alongside his father, Ataf.
MUHAMMAD (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): I was playing with my cousin in the street.
TRNN: What happened to you?
ATAF (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): What happened?
MUHAMMAD: We were playing, and then a missile hit us.
ATAF: It hit between you two.
MUHAMMAD: Between us, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED: That’s enough.
ATAF: They did a surgery on his leg and they’re treating burns. From the knee up there is no flesh.
ATAF: No flesh. The flesh, it’s gone. It’s broken, so they put in metal plates. He has a difficult case with his abdomen. Here there’s no flesh. No flesh.
TRNN: What are these wounds?
ATAF: These are the wounds from the shrapnel, from shrapnel.
TRNN: And what happened to his skin?
ATAF: The flesh on his arms was burned off as well.
TRNN: His skin is discolored. Why?
ATAF: This is burned, this is totally burned. This is being replaced. His face has already had some skin replaced. His face was totally burned. He has also–he lost one of his testicles as well.
TARACHANSKY: Israel has a non-association policy with Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza. So the bills for such patients are paid under an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that rules some parts of the occupied West Bank. Shortly after the Gaza war in 2009, the PA briefly refused to pay the bills, which it does indirectly. According to Dr. Fathi Abu Moghli, the PA’s minister of health, “Israeli hospitals submit their bills directly to the Israeli tax authorities, who in turn deduct the amounts owed by the PA.”
ZAZA: We came here without a penny. And we also have wives and children. How will they support themselves? While we’re here, who’s supporting them? We want urgent support for our families, and for us here as well.
TARACHANSKY: Lieutenant Colonel Anital Liebowitz, the Israeli army’s spokeswoman, refused to comment on the incident nor confirm whether the boys were indeed hit by an unmanned drone.
TARACHANSKY: I’m just trying to understand why the Israeli Air Force was not able to distinguish between combatants and these children.
LT. COL. ANITAL LIEBOWITZ, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: I think your question is mistaken, because it’s not a matter of distinguishing. When we target terrorists in Gaza, we target terrorists that either are ticking bombs or have a very large influence on committing terror activities against Israelis.
TARACHANSKY: There was only one missile shot, according to eyewitnesses, and it was at two children, one 12 and one 14, sitting outside of their house.
LIEBOWITZ: [incompr.] when someone is about to launch a rocket at you, then the logic is that we’d better target that person before he targets us.
TARACHANSKY: According to the UN, the Israeli army launches operations in Gaza on nearly a daily basis. Since the beginning of the year, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights reports 66 deaths in Gaza, including 41 civilians, of whom nine were children. Only two days after Muhammad and Ibrahim were hit, 13-year-old Haitham Ahmed Marouf was also hit by a missile while reportedly farming with his father. Though he was transferred to the same Israeli hospital, he succumbed to his injuries, dying on August 29. More than 40 children in Gaza were injured in similar incidents since the beginning of the year. For The Real News, I’m Lia Tarachansky in Rehovot, Israel.