SIR – On Friday, December 15th, a sharpshooter shot and killed Ibrahim Abu Thuraya, a Gazan double amputee, as he protested against the US declaration recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital from his wheelchair near the Israeli border.
It can be assumed that the soldier realised that he was shooting at a disabled and defenceless person in a wheelchair.
The Israeli army sharpshooter couldn’t target the lower part of his victim’s body — Ibrahim Abu Thuraya didn’t have one.
The 29-year-old, who worked washing cars and who lived in Gaza City’s Shati refugee camp, lost both legs from the hips down in an Israeli airstrike during Operation Cast Lead in 2008. He used a wheelchair to get around.
The army finished the job: a sharpshooter aimed at his head and shot him dead. Abu Thuraya posed no danger to anyone: how much of a danger could a double amputee in a wheelchair, imprisoned behind a fence, constitute?
How much evil and insensitivity does it take in order to shoot a handicapped person in a wheelchair? Abu Thuraya was not the first, nor will he be the last, Palestinian with disabilities to be killed by soldiers of the Israel Defence Forces.
In the words of Israeli journalist, ‘The killing of the young disabled man passed almost without mention in Israeli news.’
He was one of three demonstrators killed on just another humdrum day.
One can easily imagine what would happen if Palestinians had killed an Israeli who used a wheelchair. What a furore would have erupted, with endless ink spilled on their cruelty and barbarism. How many arrests would have resulted, how much blood would have flowed in retaliation.
But when soldiers behave barbarically, Israel is silent and shows no interest. No shock, no shame, no pity. An apology or expression of regret or remorse is the stuff of fantasy.
The idea of holding those responsible for this criminal killing accountable is also delusional. Abu Thuraya was a dead man once he dared take part in his people’s protest and his killing is of no interest to anyone, since he was a Palestinian.
The Gaza Strip has been closed to Israeli journalists for 11 years, so one can only imagine the life of the car-washer from Shati before his death — how he recovered from his injuries in the absence of decent rehabilitation services in the besieged Strip, with no chance of obtaining prosthetic legs; how he rumbled along in an old wheelchair, not an electric one, in the sandy alleys of his camp; how he continued washing cars despite his disability, since there are no other choices in Shati, including for people with disabilities; and how he continued struggling with his friends, despite his disability.
No outsider can imagine life in that cage, the biggest in the world, the one called the Gaza Strip. It is part of a never-ending Israeli mass experiment on human beings where young people have no hope in their lives, even when they have two legs to walk on.
Abu Thuraya had even less hope.