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21 Palestinians in Gaza lose one or both eyes from Israel forces’ fire during protests

February 26, 2020 at 11:28 am

Palestinians carry an injured man after Israeli forces attacked protesters during the Great March of Return in Gaza on 13 September 2019 [Hassan Jedi/Anadolu Agency]

Almost two dozen Palestinians have lost one or both eyes as a result of Israeli forces’ repression of Great Return March protests in the Gaza Strip, according to Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem.

Over the last two years, B’Tselem reported, 19 Palestinians have lost their vision in one eye, while at least two more have lost their vision in both eyes.

Overall, “more than 200 people have been killed, some 8,000 wounded by live fire, about 2,400 wounded by rubber-coated metal bullets, and almost 3,000 wounded by tear gas canisters.”

B’Tselem published a number of testimonies of Palestinians whose eyes were injured by Israeli fire, including ten-year-old Muhammad Abu Raidah, who was struck in the face by a tear gas canister on 27 December 2019, near the perimeter fence in the southern Gaza Strip.

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The boy was at the protest to collect scrap metal to sell, when he was hit in the right eye.

“For the first four days at the hospital, I was in shock and couldn’t speak to anyone,” Muhammad told a B’Tselem researcher. “A few days later, the swelling around my eye started going down, but I couldn’t see anything with it. My bandages were replaced every day.”

“I was released from hospital after ten days. Now I’m home and all I do is sleep. I get medicines and all kinds of eye drops every hour or every few hours,” he added.

Muhammad’s mother, Jihan Abu Raidah, 41, told B’Tselem: “Muhammad still has strong pain in the spot where he was injured, as well as headaches and dizziness. He can only see through his left eye”.

He’s only a ten-year-old kid who didn’t threaten the Israeli army. I pray to God to give him health, that I see him playing and running in the neighbourhood again, that the smile returns to his face.

B’Tselem noted that “Muhammad Abu Raidah did not receive a referral for treatment in a West Bank hospital and in mid-January 2020, went with his parents to get treatment in Egypt.”

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