Ali is dead, yet he brings the magic of life to three others
Palestine, Local, 11/17/1997
It was a double-ended tragedy, or a tragedy that had a happy ending, if one may say so. It all started with a brief Israeli military announcement. "A nine-year old boy was shot by an Israeli soldier with a rubber bullet during disturbances in Bethlehem," it said last Tuesday when Israeli defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai was visiting Rachel's Tomb in the city. No one could tell that this announcement would end with a tragedy on one hand and a heavenly gift on the other. A boy killed by Israeli soldiers had given life to three other children after parts of his body were transplanted into theirs.
The boy, Ali Mohammed Jawarish, 7, died of his wounds Saturday afternoon. His funeral on Sunday afternoon was accompanied with demonstrations and clashes between angry Palestinians and Israeli troops who used tear gas canisters and fired several rounds of bullets at Ayda refugee camp in Bethlehem, where the Jawarish family lives. One soldier was wounded, Israel radio said.
Ali's parts were donated by his family right after they knew that he was declared clinically dead. From the minute they heard the news of his injury, they felt luck was heading away. No ambulance was available to take him to hospital. A refugee resident took Ali to nearby Beit Jala Hospital. When doctors found his skull had been fractured by a bullet, they decided they had no appropriate means to help him and transferred him to Islamic Maqassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, but not before the ambulance was stuck at an Israeli army roadblock waiting for permission to cross into Israel. The boy later was taken to Hadassah Hospital in Ein Karem in West Jerusalem, where they refused to receive him saying they had a military drill and were not fit to accommodate newcomers. Ali was then taken to Ramallah hospital where he stayed until the next day, during which time all papers were prepared for his hospitalization at Hadassah Hospital where he spent the last three days of his life.
Without hesitation, Aliıs parents decided to donate his organs. "To save lives," his father Mohammed said painfully, "my boy is already finished, dead. Why shouldnıt we do a favor to other children? I hope my boy saves someone, saves a life, and I donıt care if its Jewish, Muslim or Christian. A person is a person.² The three beneficiaries, so to speak, turned out to Arab children living in Israel.
Kamleh Ahmad, mother of 12-year-old Bilal from Haifa who received Ali's heart and lungs, said she wanted to meet the Jawarish family and express how deep her gratitude is to them. Ali's liver and kidney went to Ismail Hassaniyeh, 15, from Ibillin in the Galilee who suffers from a damaged liver that destroyed his kidney. Ismail's older brother and sister died at age nine from the same disease. One-year-old Tayyeb Abu Jaafar is due to receive Ali's other kidney. In a radio interview, Kamleh did not sound fully aware of Ali's fate and all what she knew is that the family decided to donate her son's organs. She, for instance, did not know that the fatal shooting of another boy by Israeli soldiers had made the heart and lungs available to her son.
Ali, a second-grade student from Beit Safafa near Jerusalem, the fourth among seven brothers and sisters, was the fatherıs most beloved son. ³Heıs the middle one. Spoiled and mischievous. I loved him the most,² his father said with tears in his eyes. But he avoided blaming anybody. It felt as if he was a believer to the extent of being fully convinced that the death of his son was a decision from God. "I know he was shot by mistake," he said, obviously siding with the Israeli military announcement which said that one soldier aimed his rifle to shoot at one of the stone throwers but it was Ali who rushed right into the line of fire.
Last Tuesday, Ali finished school and went to Bethlehem with his friends. ³Theyıre children. They donıt understand much,² his father explains. ³There was a protest. All the children ran away, only Ali didnıt understand what was happening and stayed in the place. A soldier came, shot him and killed him. Itıs an issue of luck.² Unlike the father, Ali's cousin, Muhanned, believed the shooting was intentional. He recalled an incident a few years ago when Israeli soldiers opened fire and injured Ali's older bother. ³We will show the world we are people who know what peopleıs lives are worth," said Muhanned. He added he did not know what Ali did to deserve this tragedy. "Itıs very hard. I suspect there will be many more like him before there is peace,² he concluded. The father murmured a few words: ³I wish he was injured in his hand, maybe his leg. At least he could have stayed with us.² But Aliıs condition was fatal. ³We knew from the first day this was his end,² his father said. His brain died at the first moment. But I hoped they would succeed in saving him. We believe everything is from God.²
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