The story behind this viral photo

ESTHER HAN
Last updated 16:22 21/07/2014
Gaza
@Belalmd12/Twitter
WAR ZONE: This haunting image shocked the world. Now a doctor in the room has revealed what happened.

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A boy with cuts all over his body is using every ounce of his strength to cling on to a rubber-gloved medic trying to lay him on a hospital bed.

What the haunting photograph does not capture are the Palestinian boy's screams at the paramedic: "I want my father, bring me my father!"

It also fails to show the gaping wound on the left side of his head, the large piece of shrapnel in his neck, and smaller pieces lodged in his chest and abdomen, sustained after being caught in artillery fire from Israel.

The story behind the photograph taken at Gaza City's al-Shifa hospital last Thursday - and disseminated across the world - was revealed by a junior doctor Belal Dabour in a piece for the pro-Palestinian masthead The Electronic Intifada.

"At around 3am, about eight or nine casualties arrived at the emergency room all at once. The last to come in were four siblings - two of them little children, both about three years old, with relatively superficial wounds," he wrote.

"Then came the older of the four siblings, a boy in his early teens. His head and face were covered in blood and he was pressing a rag to his head to staunch the flow. But his focus was on something else: 'Save my little brother,' he kept screaming."

The unnamed boy pictured in the photograph was thrashing about and screaming for his father as the paramedic carried him straight from the emergency unit to intensive care.

"Upon carefully examining the wounds, it appeared that the explosion from the artillery round sent flying small pieces of stone from the walls of his house, and that some of his wounds were caused by these high-velocity projectiles," Dabour wrote.

The shrapnel in the boy's neck just missed a major artery, the piece in his chest nearly punctured a lung, and the one in his stomach nearly hit his bowel. But the child was a "lucky" one, Dabour said, because he had seen too many killed.

Just a day earlier, four boys aged between nine and 11 were playing on the beach in Gaza City when Israeli military strikes slaughtered them. They were cousins.

As the Islamic militant group Hamas and Israeli troops prepare to enter day 14 of their latest conflict, the death toll sits at 417 Palestinians and 18 Israelis.

A third of Palestine's dead were children, the United Nations children's agency declared on Saturday. About 50 boys and 20 girls between three months and18 years of age had been slain.

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"From July 8, until 4am on July 19, at least 73 Palestinian children have been reported killed as a result of air strikes and shelling by Israel aerial, naval and ground forces," UNICEF's Catherine Weibel said.

Israel accused Hamas of using the Gaza population as a human shield, firing rockets from civilian areas and infrastructure.

Dabour ended his account by saying he did not find out the youngster's name as too many people - "some arrived torn to pieces, some beheaded, some disfigured beyond recognition" - arrived to be saved.

"I do now know whether he was reunited with his father, or even what became of the rest of his family," he wrote. "But there's one thing that I know for sure, which is that hundreds of children just like him suffered similar or worse injuries, and up to the moment of this writing, nearly 80 children just like him have been killed as Israel's merciless attack goes on."

- Sydney Morning Herald

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