On Friday 15 December 2017 thousands of Palestinians took part in demonstrations across the Gaza Strip to protest against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Hundreds of protesters made their way to the eastern border of Gaza and threw stones at the Israeli occupation forces stationed there.
A young, double amputee in a wheelchair was among the protesters who decided to make his way towards the border with his friends. He had a weapon in his hands – a Palestinian flag. When he arrived at a hilltop he made the victory sign with both hands and then started to wave the flag.
This was Ibrahim Abu-Thurayya, 29, from Al-Shati Refugee Camp, west of Gaza City. An Israeli drone had already fired a rocket at him along with seven other friends during the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2008. He was the only survivor but he lost one of his eyes and both legs.
When he recovered Abu-Thurayya was confined to a wheelchair yet refused to stay at home and receive help from members of the community or charities. He insisted he would go out and work regardless of his disability. He had a bucket, some cleaning equipment and a towel and went out every morning to wash cars in order to feed his family and pay the rent.
Abu-Thurayya became well-known across the Gaza Strip, where thousands of people who have four limbs and two eyes cannot find work. He became an example not to be beaten by fate. “I am obliged to wash cars in order to get food for my family and pay for the rent of my house”, he told Al-Quds TV Channel. “I have a strong will”, he added.
After hearing Trump’s announcement about Jerusalem Abu-Thurayya believed that staying at home would be the real disability and decided to take part in all the anti-Trump protests.
“I want to send a message to the Israeli Zionist occupation that this land is ours”, he told the journalist Muthana Al-Najjar just minutes before he was killed. “We will not surrender and America must withdraw its decision [about Jerusalem]”, he insisted.
While crawling along the ground, throwing stones and raising the Palestinian flag, Abu-Thurayya was hit with a live bullet in the head fired by an Israeli sniper. He was evacuated in an ambulance and died before arriving at hospital.
Spokesman of the Palestinian Ministry of Health Ashraf Al-Qidra said that the Israeli occupation forces used “strange ammunition against the unarmed protesters, including explosive live bullets”.
Commenting on Abu-Thurayya’s killing Akram Al-Satari, a Palestinian activist, said, ironically: “This way, Israel has got rid of one of the fateful [dangers] that had always threatened its existence.”
Hamas top leader Ismail Haniyeh said: “Killing this legless youth, who did not pose any danger on anyone, reveals the real savage creed of the Israeli occupation and its army.”
Israeli veteran writer Gideon Levy said: “A sniper of the IDF, the most moral army in the world, shot him dead. He shot him in his head… nine years after the Israeli army took his legs, the Israeli army took his life.”
He asked: “Can you imagine what would have happened if the Palestinians would have dared to do the same crime and kill a double amputee in a wheelchair?”
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.