As Israel celebrates Paralympic's Malaysia boycott, lets not forget the Palestinian athletes maimed in Gaza

As Israel celebrates Paralympic's Malaysia boycott, lets not forget the Palestinian athletes maimed in Gaza
Dozens of Palestinians have had seen their promising athletic careers cut short by Israeli aggression. Here's a look at some of their stories.
4 min read
28 January, 2019
Palestinian athletes have been maimed by Israeli police and military [Anadolu]
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Sunday stripped Malaysia of the rights to host the upcoming World Para Swimming Championships over its refusal to allow Israeli athletes to attend the event.

"The Paralympic Movement has, and always will be, motivated by a desire to drive inclusion, not exclusion," said IPC president Andrew Parsons in a statement.

In light of the IPC's statement on inclusion, many have been reminded of Israel's crushing of protests in the Gaza border that saw scores of people shot in the limbs by Israeli snipers.

At least 3,117 Palestinians were shot in the legs, and many will need follow-up surgery, physiotherapy and rehabilitation, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported in December.

"These are complex and serious injuries that do not quickly heal," the group said. "Their severity and the lack of appropriate treatment in Gaza's crippled health system means that infection is a high risk, especially for patients with open fractures."

"The consequences of these wounds… will be lifelong disability for many," the aid group said. "And if infections are not tackled, then the results could be amputation or even death."

Gaza's Health Ministry says it has carried out 94 amputations since the protests began, 82 of them involving lower limbs.

Here's a look at the Palestinian athletes whose dreams of sporting glory were stolen after being shot and maimed by Israeli forces.

Cyclist's dream punctured by Israeli bullet

Twenty-one-year-old Alaa al-Daly had his dreams of representing Palestine at the 2018 Asian Games shattered after he was shot in the leg by Israeli forces during a border protest in Gaza.

Daly, a resident of Rafah, had trained for over six hours a day in preparation for the event, which was to be held in Indonesia.

Cyclist Alaa al-Dali had his right leg amputated after being shot by Israeli forces [AFP]

He was shot in the legs by Israeli forces after attending a protest on the Gaza border in March. The injured leg was later amputated by doctors.

"I only went because it was a peaceful rally, I did not expect any harm to come to me," Dali told Reuters following the life-changing procedure.

Gaza's Paralympian footballers

On the 30 March 2018 was a fateful day for 23-year-old footballer Muhammed Obeid, who was shot in both knees by Israeli forces during a protest in Gaza. Obeid had played as a wing-back for Gaza's al-Salah Club.

Obeid, however, is not the only Palestinian footballer to have his career ended by an Israeli bullet.

In 2018, social justice group Visualizing Palestine produced a powerful infographic entitled 'The Team That Could Have Been' to highlight the effect of the Israeli occupation on the lives of budding Palestinian footballers

The non-profit data group researched 56 cases of Palestinian footballers who had their lives devastated by Israeli shootings, bombings and restrictions on movement. 

Among them is Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, who at 19, the same age as Mbappé, was shot 11 times at a checkpoint by Israeli soldiers and will likely never play again. 

Another talent, Mahmoud Sarsak, was at the age of 22 arrested at the Erez crossing while travelling out of Gaza to join the national team, and jailed without charge for three years. He went on a 96-day hunger strike which led to his release.

Knock out blow for budding boxer

Ahmed Abu Marahil, 21, boxed since the age of 16 and was lined up to represent Palestine in the Arab Youth Boxing Championship in March 2017. His hope of attending the event, however, would not be realised due top the Rafah crossing being closed at the time.

In 2018, Abu Marahil would suffer three separate injuries, all at the hands of Israeli forces. In April 2018, the young boxer suffered his first injury when he was struck in the abdoment by a rubber-coated bullet while at a protest in Gaza.

A month later, the 21-year old severely burned his hands during another protest when he picked up a tear gas cannister to prevent it from harming a group of nearby girls. 

Abu Marahil's third injury would be the most devastating, causing the young athlete to be temporarily disabled. Abu Marahil was shot by Israeli forces in both legs, snatching away his ability to walk.

Doctors at the time said he would not be able to walk again without treatment abroad.

Agencies contributed to this story