Israeli gunshot ends Gaza footballer’s career

GAZA (Xinhua) – An Israeli sniper’s gunshot has ended the football career of 24-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Obeid.

Obeid was wounded by an explosive bullet during his participation on the first day of the ongoing weekly anti-Israel protests known as “the Great March of Return,” which kicked off on March 30 last year.

As soon as he arrived in the border areas, where the clashes erupted, Obeid, who used to play for al-Salah football club in Gaza City, began a Facebook live show to document the confrontations.

However, the well-known player did not know that he was documenting the moment when he was shot with a bullet that broke through his legs and settled in the left knee.

The injury led the doctors to remove his knee to avoid further deterioration.

Palestinian Mohammed Obeid checks photos and videos of him playing football on the Internet inside his house in Deir al-Balah refugee camp in central Gaza Strip. – XINHUA

“I was directly shot even though I was away from the border fence between Israel and Gaza,” Obeid told Xinhua at his house in Deir al-Balah refugee camp in central Gaza Strip.

Since he was injured, Obeid has undergone four difficult surgical operations. One was in a hospital in Gaza and the rest were in Turkey after he was sent abroad

for treatment by the Palestinian Football Federation.

“My injury was a red card by an Israeli sniper who fired me out of the field forever,” Obeid said with agony.

Prior to his injury, Obeid was a full-time footballer and playing football was his only source of income although he has a university degree.

Obeid’s psychology was affected by the injury, which was a disaster for him.

“I feel so down … I am totally frustrated,” the young man said as he checked videos about him on YouTube. “I was well-known in Gaza and suddenly I am a former footballer.”

He added that he dreamed to represent the Palestinian national team in Arab and international stages to deliver a message that the Palestinian people love life and peace, “but the Israeli army destroyed this dream”.

Egyptian player Mohamed Salah, who plays for Liverpool FC, is Obeid’s idol. The young man said that he always worked hard to copy Salah’s successful career abroad.

“I got an offer to play for a Tunisian club, but this chance vanished after I was injured,” he added.

Obeid is currently undergoing physiotherapy at home. He is also getting training to strengthen his leg muscles.

He expressed his hope that the Palestinian government and the Palestinian Football Federation will help him and other injured athletes because he needs a final operation scheduled for August to transplant a knee at a cost of USD25,000.

“I cannot afford this operation … I have been jobless for almost one year now,” he sadly said.

A number of Palestinian athletes were injured while participating in the ongoing protests, most notably Alaa al-Dali, a cyclist who had his leg amputated after he was injured by an Israeli gunshot.

Palestinian officials and human rights organisations accuse the Israeli army of deliberately using excessive force to target demonstrators in eastern Gaza for the purpose of killing and causing disability.

The borders of the Gaza Strip and Israel have been strained since the start of the protests during which more than 260 Palestinians were killed and over 26,000 others were injured.