On Friday afternoon, as Israeli soldiers from the other side of the fence were firing tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition, Yaser Abu al-Naja and a few friends took cover behind a waste container away from the front lines of a protest in the Gaza Strip.
As Yaser briefly peeked out from behind the bin, an explosive bullet hit him in the head. His skull was shattered, resulting a bloody pulp in one side, eye-witnesses said.
Yaser was 11 years old.
His killing on Friday made him the 16th Palestinian child to be shot dead by Israeli forces since the launch on March 30 of the Great March of Return protests calling for the right of refugees and their descendants to return to the homes and lands from which they were violently expelled from in 1948.
A few hours later, at sundown, Yaser’s mother Samah Abu al-Naja was browsing through Facebook on her mobile phone when she came upon a photo of an “unidentified boy” with his head blurred and bloodied clothes.
“His face was not showing, but I recognised him as my son from the clothes he was wearing,” the 30-year-old told Al Jazeera from her home east of Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip.
“My neighbour and one of my daughters were sitting with me,” she added. “I turned to them with the phone in my hand and said: ‘This is my son.'”
For Samah, the horror of certainty instantly gave way to a sense of shock. As the young mother headed to the European Hospital, where Yaser’s body was held, she struggled to wrap her mind around the fact that her first-born child had been shot dead.
“I never expected my son to be killed,” she wept. “I knew he went every Friday to attend the protests, but he was driven by curiosity and went mostly to watch other protesters with his group of his friends.”
Source: Gaza family mourns slain son, 11: ‘Not last child to be killed’ | News | Al Jazeera