Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Maria Aman

The video below needs no translation once you're familiar with the story of Maria Aman. Here is her story as recounted by Haaretz reporter Gideon Levy in a touching piece written in 2007 about the Palestinian children who have been victims of the Israeli occupation.
Soon afterward we went back to Jerusalem to visit Maria Aman, the amazing little girl from Gaza, who lost nearly everyone in her life to a missile strike gone awry that wiped out her innocent family, including her mother, while riding in their car. Her devoted father Hamdi remains by her side. For a year and a half, she has been cared for at the wonderful Alyn Hospital, where she has learned to feed a parrot with her mouth and to operate her wheelchair using her chin. All the rest of her limbs are paralyzed. She is connected day and night to a respirator. Still, she is a cheerful and neatly groomed child whose father fears the day they might be sent back to Gaza.

For now, they remain in Israel. Many Israelis have devoted themselves to Maria and come to visit her regularly. A few weeks ago, broadcast journalist Leah Lior took her in her car to see the sea in Tel Aviv. It was a Saturday night, and the area was crowded with people out for a good time, but the girl in the wheelchair attracted attention. Some people recognized her and stopped to say hello and wish her well. Who knows? Maybe the pilot who fired the missile at her car happened to be passing by, too.
This story reminds us of the beauty and innocence of youth, and the love and devotion of a father. It also reminds us of the humanity of many Israelis who do not support their government's treatment of the Palestinians.

Maria aman petite victime de dommages collatéraux

But sadly, this is not the end of the story. While I wish that somehow this story could stand out as a symbol of the hope for peace, there is another side of this story that you must know. Surely this story is tragic enough.  But somehow the Israeli govenment has decided that Maria is a threat and cannot be allowed to stay in Jerusalem. [This article is from January 2009.]
Nearly two weeks ago, the Israeli High Court of Justice denied a petition to grant residency to a Palestinian child paralyzed from the neck down when the Israeli Army shelled her father's vehicle in 2006, killing her mother, her brother and her grandmother.

Maria Aman, age eight, became quadriplegic after a shell fired by the Israeli Army struck her dad's vehicle in the Gaza Strip, while the whole family was in it. She is receiving treatment at an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem, and is accompanied by her father and her youngest brother.

The Israeli high court is refusing to allow her and her family to remain in Jerusalem. Human rights Groups filed an appeal to grant her permanent residency in Jerusalem as she needs to remain close to the hospital due to the severity of her condition.

The Israeli Defense ministry carried out repeated attempts to expel the child and her family from Jerusalem, and suggested that they should move to Abu Rayya rehabilitation Center in Ramallah, but the center lacks the equipment needed for her treatment.
So now you can understand the anguished pleas of Maria's father at the end of this video, and his sense of outrage. Who wouldn't be outraged? Even the support of a member of the Knesset was not enough to convince the Israeli courts that the child should continue to be cared for in Jerusalem.
Arab member of the Knesset, Mohammad Barakeh, General Secretary, of the Hadash Movement, and his office, adopted the case of Maria.

After the court issued its ruling, Barakeh said that “this decision is unbelievable”, and added that this child “is a victim of a massacre carried out by the Israeli Army, and now three years later, we find Israel trying to avoid taking responsibility for it actions”.

“It seems that this crime was not enough to convince the government that “a mother, her child, a grandmother and an uncle were killed in this crime”, Barakeh stated. “Maria was only five when she became disabled, paralyzed from neck down, yet the Israeli government is harassing the child and what is left of her family”.
Just in case you think this might be an isolated case or some sort of mistake or odd travesty of Israeli justice, here is the apparent justification for the courts insistence on Maria's expulsion.
The father of the child said that Israel is trying to avoid setting a precedent which would encourage Palestinians seriously hurt by Israel to seek medical treatment in Israel.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Defense Ministry stated that the Israeli law does not require the army to compensate or provide treatment to Palestinians hurt during Israeli attacks against Palestinian fighters either in the West Bank or in the Gaza Strip.
This statement by the Israeli Defense Ministry that "Israeli law does not require the army to compensate or provide treatment to Palestinians hurt during Israeli attacks" is perhaps the ultimate expression of racist hatred. Think about that during this UN conference on racism.


Anonymous said...

my heart is absolutely broken.

Frank Hope said...

Dear anon,

Take heart. The wonderful thing about Maria is the big smile on her face. It reminds me of the Cat Stevens song "Moon Shadow".

And if I ever lose my legs,
I won't moan and I won't beg,
Yes if I ever lose my legs,
Oh, I won't have to walk no more.

Anonymous said...

My heart got broken since I got to know the history of Maria about 7 months ago. Since that I am following her case as close as I can. She's such an amazing girl, she does not deserve to suffer like this. It's disgusting the whole behavior of Israel goverment and everyday gets more and more unbelievable. I wish to help her and her family. The people who did it to her have to pay for their crimes against the humanity.

Frank Hope said...

@ Anonymous

We can only hope that there will be some sort of divine retribution in this case.