Ibrahim Abu Thuraya: A symbol of Gaza's resilience

Ibrahim Abu Thuraya: A symbol of Gaza's resilience
Since Ibrahim Abu Thuraya lost his legs in an Israeli attack a decade ago, he has become a symbol of the struggle and resilience of the Palestinian people,
2 min read
16 Dec, 2017
Ibrahim Abu Thuraya regularly protested against Israel's occupation despite his disability. [Getty]

Since Ibrahim Abu Thuraya lost his legs in an Israeli attack a decade ago, he and his wheelchair have been a regular feature at protests along Gaza's border with Israel.

On Friday, he became one of four Palestinians to be killed in a day of demonstrations against US President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move its embassy to the contested city.

Pictures of Abu Thuraya at protests along the border have been widely circulated on social media after it was confirmed he was killed.

The Palestinian health ministry said he was shot in the head by an Israeli sniper.

In video footage recorded early on Friday, Abu Thuraya could be seen carrying the Palestinian flag and waving the victory sign at Israeli soldiers across the border.

"I want to go there," he says, referring to the other side of the border, as a number of young men surrounding him also waved Palestinian flags, while others threw stones towards the troops.

"This land is our land, we will not give up. America has to withdraw its decision," Abu Thurayeh said in another video posted on social media.

A few hours before his death, despite having no legs he climbed an electricity pole to raise the Palestinian flag, eyewitnesses and journalists present said.

Symbol of resilience

The former fisherman had become a symbol of resilience in the besieged coastal enclave, under a strict Israeli blockade for over a decade.

He lost both legs and a kidney when an Israeli helicopter targeted him during Operation Cast Lead in 2008, when Israel's army killed more than 1,400 Palestinians in three weeks.

His family say he was targeted after he brought down the Israeli flag and raised the Palestinian flag along the border zone.

"It did not stop him from demonstrating for Jerusalem," his brother Samir told AFP after his death was confirmed on Friday.

"He went alone every day to the border".

Before being injured he had been a fisherman, an industry strangled by strict Israeli restrictions on fishing zones which are enforced by military vessels off Gaza's coast.

Abu Thuraya then began washing cars to help support a family of eleven, waking up at 7am and strapping equipment to his wheelchair before hitting Gaza's streets.

"Please never look at my disabled body, look at the great job I'm doing," Abu Thuraya told Irish activists in 2012.

"I never felt despaired. It's not the end of the world and life should go on."

Thousands are expected to attend his funeral on Saturday.