Gaza’s Iron Man? Palestinian war survivor living with 30 pieces of shrapnel in his body
The mental scars of Gaza war survivor Jehad Al Salibi are yet to heal as also his wounds.
Al Salibi, who lost his arm as a result of an Israeli rocket attack in 2009, is still paying for Israel’s brutal assault.
His body has 30 pieces of aluminium shrapnel; broken bones have caused his right leg to be shorter than the left and he suffers from extreme hearing loss.
Living the life of a regular 25-year-old is not an option.
Gulf News first reported his case earlier this month with the start of the Israeli attacks on Gaza. In 2009, Al Salibi was hit by an Israeli rocket in Gaza, while riding his bicycle to the petrol station to buy cooking gas for his mother.
As a result of the explosion, Al Salibi, who was 19 at the time, fell into a month-long coma and suffered injuries all over his body.
“My left arm was amputated because of gangrene and a big piece of shrapnel was removed from the back of the brain. These procedures helped save my life but as years went by more problems emerged.”
He said his daily life as a business major student at the University of Sharjah is affected by the explosion until today.
Al Salibi currently suffers from hearing loss in his left ear. His right leg is shorter than his left by three centimetres because his bones were broken in the explosion. He also has many burns on his legs and hands.
“I now walk around campus with a limp. Having one leg shorter than the other causes me to have back problems. I wear one shoe with a higher heel than the other to help, but the pain is still there.”
Hearing loss also affects Al Salibi’s daily life. He said he has to sit in a front-row desk in class to hear the lecture clearly. People talking to him also must stand on his right side so that he can hear them properly.
The burns and shrapnel on his body still burn whenever water touches his skin.
“When I went to have an X-ray, the whole thing lit up like a Christmas tree because of the aluminium shrapnel pieces still inside my body. I removed the ones on the surface, but around 30 — which are deeper inside — remain because they are more dangerous to remove than keep.”
Al Salibi said he hopes to continue with his healing process but, as a struggling student, he does not have the funds to do so.
“I wish to finish my treatment process, but it is too expensive and the insurance does not cover the cost of such big surgeries.”
He is thankful he received initial treatment, he says, thanks to rulers of the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
And, God willing, more help to finish his treatment will come.
Al Salibi, who has a GPA of 3.8 out of four, also hopes to continue with his higher education.
“My dream is to continue my treatment and receive a masters and doctorate scholarship to continue my higher education so that I go back to Gaza and benefit my country. I hope to receive help so I can fulfil this dream.”
By Noor Nazzal