Life, Middle East

32 years on, Palestinian man commemorates his death memory

1,550 Palestinians were killed, 70,000 injured in first Intifada

Nesma Seyam   | 12.12.2019
32 years on, Palestinian man commemorates his death memory

GAZA CITY, Palestine 

For the past 32 years, Mohammed Said Abu Samra has been commemorating his death memory, putting his hand at his heart where the bullet is still lodging until this very day.

"This is a normal incident to the Palestinian people," Abu Samra, 51, told Anadolu Agency.

"Due to the lack of medical treatment and shortage of hospital supplies, many people were mistaken to be dead in the first Intifada and ended up living to this day."

On Dec. 9, 1987, the first Palestinian Intifada broke out after an Israeli truck driver ran over a group of Palestinian workers near the Erez checkpoint, which has disconnected the Gaza Strip away from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories since 1948.

The next day, angry Palestinians filled the streets to demonstrate against the Israeli terror attack. Soon the situation escalated and turned into a massive civil uprising.

The wave of demonstrations and clashes rapidly spread throughout the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and lasted for six years, leaving a death toll of 1,550 Palestinians, over 70,000 injuries and up to 200,000 detainees by the Israeli military forces.

During the Intifada, Palestinians maintained specific practices such as refusal to pay taxes, strikes and street demonstrations.

One of the most widespread methods to defend themselves was throwing stones down on Israeli soldiers, who were heavily armed with powerful weaponry and live ammunition. This has earned the protests the name "The Uprising of Stones".

Death date

On March 25, 1989, Abu Samra and his friend were among the mourners of a Palestinian shot by Israeli forces.

The near-camping Israeli soldiers grew suspicious when the crowd changed their destination after noticing that the martyr was alive.

As the mourners changed their route, Abu Samra and his friend ended up on the top of an open hill in Al-Hawooz neighborhood to the east of Khan Younis camp. An Israeli soldier fired two bullets towards them. His friend was shot at the thigh, but Abu Samra was not sure if he got shot at too.

Until one minute passed after the shot, Abu Samra had not felt anything yet. Then the pain started to intensify to unbearable.

"It felt like a knife was twisted in my heart," Abu Samra recalled.

As first images of friends whom he lost started to flow before his eyes, shortly he blacked out.

"There is no pulse. He is not breathing!" These were the last words Abu Samra could ever hear before his death.

"I was floating in an immense space and I completely lost any sense of time, place or dimension," he recalled.

News went viral that Abu Samra had died and even his family dug a grave in preparation of his burial after a doctor at the hospital spotted a bullet in his heart, stating: "He is definitely dead".

Without any prior coordination, his body was rushed to Tal Hashomeer Hospital in Tel Aviv for emergency operation.

For almost one month, Abu Samra stayed in the intensive care unit there hanging between life and death given his complicated conditions.

Doctors said the shot hit very close to the heart but he was lucky to live. His health was desperately affected even after he was allowed home. His coughing was accompanied with blood and his movement was restricted for at least one year.

Abu Samra's injury came three months before his final exams for a sports education diploma. However, he was determined to pass his tests. He also obtained his Masters and PhD in sports training – handball -- and now he is working as a professor at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza.

"Ever since the incident, I've felt that day is a unique one," Abu Samra said.

"I lost my father the same day nine years later and my mother 31 years later. I do believe it will be my death date as well - the real death."

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