Although 21 years have passed since barrage of Israeli army bullets killed 12-year-old Mohammad Al-Durrah, his image as an icon of the Palestinian resistance has never faded, Anadolu reports.
On 30 September 2000, Al-Durrah and his father were filmed crouching behind a concrete block along one of Gaza streets as Israeli army soldiers showered them with heavy gunfire. Moments later, the terrorized boy collapsed dead on his father’s lap whose attempts to shield his son from live ammunition proved to be futile.
The footage, however, became the most potent symbol of the Palestinian resistance against the decades-long Israeli occupation.
Drawings and pictures of the scene were painted on walls across many parts of the world in support of the Palestinian cause.
Mohammad Jamal Al-Durrah was born on 18 November 1989, in the Al-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.
The boy, whose family’s economic situation can be described as being well-off, acquired his early education at the camp’s primary school.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, his father Jamal Al-Durrah described his son as “strong and courageous and had a lot of courage in talking to and debating with others and the elderly.”
“Mohammad was strong-willed. He always stood by the truth, defended it, and helped the oppressed. He also loved helping others with whatever little he could afford,” he said.
Asked about his son’s hobbies, Jamal said his martyred son loved swimming while also enjoyed spending his free time with his father.
My son’s martyrdom “has not been forgotten by the world,” Jamal said. “It will never be forgotten.”
On the morning of 30 September 2000, Mohammad left Al-Bureij refugee camp with the company of his father to Gaza city centre to get a new family car.
Mohammad wanted “a bigger and more beautiful car,” Jamal said.
“We went out together to look for the car of his choice but we did not find it,” Jamal recalled. “So, we decided to go back again to search for what Mohammad wants and buy it.”
However, Mohammad’s search for a new car was cut short by Israeli army fire targeting Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza as the second intifada entered its second day. Young men shut roads in protest, including the road Jamal and his son use to get back home.
Because of the confrontations, the pair had to walk along the edge of the road in order to be safe as they waited for a vehicle to take them home.
As the pair approached the area of confrontations, they were surprised by the intense shooting directed at them.
The only escape from the barrage of bullets they could find was to hide behind a cylinder concrete next to a wall as seen in the footage that went viral.
Jamal initially thought that the shooting would not last long. But the firing intensified like “rain showers,” he recalled.
Jamal’s only concern was to shield his son from the live ammunition.
“I’ve been hit,” the Palestinian father quoted his son as saying.
The first bullet struck Mohammad’s knee. The helpless father assured his son that an ambulance will soon arrive to transfer him to the hospital. But Mohammad insisted that he was fine and capable of enduring the pain.
“Don’t be afraid dad,” Jamal recalled his son’s words.
Moments later, Jamal, who himself sustained multiple wounds, found his son’s head falling into his right lap with a deep wound on his back.
“Mohammad was martyred and passed away,” the emotional father reminisced.
The footage showed Jamal screaming gesturing to the Israeli soldiers to stop shooting. “The boy is dead…the boy is dead,” Jamal said while moving his head right and left.
“I was lamenting my child,” Jamal told Anadolu Agency. “After that, white dust appeared as a result of the occupation soldiers’ shelling towards us. It seems that they wanted to hide the evidence of this crime, but it hit the edge of the sidewalk.”
He continued, “Minutes later the ambulance arrived and took both of us to Al-Shifa Hospital. Mohammad was already dead and a day later I was referred to a hospital in Jordan for treatment.”
Jamal said his son’s footage is a testament to hundreds of Israeli massacres of Palestinians which largely go undocumented.
“This makes Mohammad’s death the cause of Palestine,” he said.
Accountability of Israel
Jamal renewed his call for holding Israel accountable for killing his son and for all the crimes and massacres it committed against the Palestinian people.
He expressed his regret at “the failure of official Palestinian institutions to use his son’s case to condemn Israel for its crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC).”
“I began a legal battle alone in French courts without the support of any Arab or Palestinian official,” the bereaved father said.
He added, “This issue is not that of the Al-Durrah family alone, it is the issue of all Palestinians, and that of martyrs and massacres that are still being committed by the Zionist entity.”