Mohammed and his grandfatherA Palestinian baby is living in an Israeli hospital after being abandoned by his parents due to the father’s shame of his disabled child. Proof that Israel is a humane country that cares for all children, regardless of ethnicity.

According to a Gaza Human Rights Report, many disabled persons living in the Palestinian Authority aresegregated and isolated from Palestinian society; they are discriminated against in education, employment, transportation, and access to public services.” While such attitudes are beginning to change, there is still a significant segment of Gazan society which is prejudiced against the disabled. Around 183,600 Gazans suffer some kind of disability, 67% of Gaza’s disabled are illiterate and 40% never attended school. Three-year-old Mohammed Al Farra is one disabled Palestinian who suffered from such discrimination, until he was rescued by Israel’s Tel HaShomer Hospital.

Young Al Farra was born in Gaza with a rare genetic disease that required amputation of his hands and feet. Dr. Raz Somech of the Tel HaShomer Hospital believes the disease was caused by several generations of incest. Evidently, his parents were also cousins. Marrying cousins is a common practice within Palestinian society, because it helps to keep the family’s wealth within the tribe and strengthens familial bonds. However, marrying within the family can cause many birth defects in children. Somech told Israel Hayom that 33% of the patients in his department are Palestinians who have genetic illnesses caused by marrying within the family.

Mohammed and his grandfatherYet, in addition to his disability, Yedioth Achronot reported that little Al Farra has also been mistreated by his own family. When Al Farra visited his home to see family, he came back to the hospital even more ill and bruised. Sometime after those visits, his father, who was ashamed of his disability, told his mother that if she didn’t abandon him, he would take on a second wife. Thus, his mother chose to abandon him in order to preserve her marriage.

As a result, presently, Al Farra is living in the Tel HaShomer hospital with his 55-year-old grandfather, yet has no home in Gaza to return to after his treatment. Additionally, the Palestinian Authority has stopped funding his treatment, thus forcing the Israeli doctors to do their own independent fundraising to take care of him. While the Tel HaShomer Hospital is looking after him for now, Al Farra’s future remains uncertain.

Mohammed and his grandfather 3Al Farra’s grandfather asserted that he decided to take care of his grandson in order to save his daughter’s marriage. Presently, he sleeps in the Tel HaShomer Hospital beside his grandson and makes sure that he is taken care of. “Taking care of this child is a good deed,” he said. However, due to his advanced age, he does not have the energy to take care of him. The grandfather at this stage just wants to find a foster home or caregiver for his grandson, and to return home. According to Samech, “He is a cute, smart and vibrant boy – very clever. He speaks half Hebrew and half Arabic. He has spent most of his life in Israel, surrounded by Israelis. The grandfather has been living with him in the same room for more than three years.” The grandfather declared “He needs many things in life– he needs a home.”

By Rachel Avraham