'I don’t want their money. I want to walk again'
Published Thursday 14/03/2013 (updated) 19/03/2013 16:42
Arafat Dayem was paralyzed when Israeli tanks shelled a mourning tent
in northern Gaza. (MaanImages/PCHR, HO)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A 24-year-old man who was paralyzed when Israeli tanks shelled a mourning tent says his claim for compensation, dismissed by an Israeli court, was his last hope.
"This court case was my only hope and now even that is gone. I am feeling cheated," Arafat Dayem told the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.
On Jan. 5, 2009, Israeli tanks shelled a mourning tent in Beit Hanoun for Dayem's cousin Arafa, a medic killed on duty during Israel's 3-week war on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead.
Five people were killed in the shelling and 17 were injured, including Dayem who was hit by a flechette in the neck and paralyzed.
An Israeli court on Feb. 14 dismissed Dayem's claim for compensation.
"I collapsed when I was told that my case has been dismissed," Dayem told PCHR.
"It was a huge shock, because I was hopeful that my case would succeed. After all, I am a civilian and I was mourning the loss of my cousin."
He added: "I will not give up my case. They cannot dismiss it like this. I don’t want money. I want treatment. This is injustice. Call the judge here, or take me to him. I want to ask the judge what right do they have to put me in this condition?"
The night before he was injured, Dayem donated blood for his cousin, who did not survive.
"When I came back home that night, I took a shower and cried. Now, when I remember that night, it feels as though I was saying goodbye to my body. If they can make me walk again, even if I have to walk with a stick for the rest of my life, then I will drop the case. I don’t want their money. I want to walk again," he said.
"My family and I are very poor. We cannot afford the treatment. The judge knows this and still he has denied me the help I need. What sort of a law is this? They have put me in this condition, so they should help me to walk again. Why are they doing this to me?"
Dayem has been using a wheelchair to move around his home, but he cannot afford to run it.
"The wheelchair runs on battery power and it costs around 500 shekels ($135) per month. I don't have that much money and so I don’t move around too much. Also it is in a bad condition now."
He added: "It has cracks in it and I often fall down while using it. When I see someone walking on the road, I cannot face that person. I avoid them, because I cannot walk anymore. I want my life back. This is not how I was supposed to live my life, in a wheelchair."
PCHR filed 1,046 civil complaints to Israel's Ministry of Defense following Operation Cast Lead, seeking compensation.
Israeli courts charge an average of 30,000 shekels ($8,100) from each claimant and keep the fee if the case does not reach a trial.