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Mai and Jacqueline.. Returning to Palestine with one eye

By Fatima Abu Sbeitan

Gaza (QNN)- In agony and sadness, the two laddies spoke about their experiences after Israeli bullets took their eyes. They did not hurt anyone, they were just among others demanding the rights of the Palestinian people.

Mai Abu Rweidah and Jacqueline Shihadeh are two young ladies, whose eyes were deliberately targeted by Israeli soldiers while they were participating in Gaza’s Great Return March protests in central Gaza. One of them has completely lost her eye while the other had 90% disability.

“I want my eye back!”, said Abu Rweidah (23 years old) to QNN reporter following a surgery to remove her damaged eye. “I was in a peaceful protest, seeking our rights”.

Remembering what happened with her during the protest, Abu Rweidah said: “I was standing close to the border fence along with others when the [Israeli] soldiers directly and deliberately targeted us with tear gas grenades”.

One of the soldiers made a provocative gesture before firing a rubber-coated metal bullet directly and deliberately at her right eye to completely damage it, according to Abu Rweidah.

After she was evacuated to hospital, she knew that there was a fracture in her skull and severe damage in the eye, which pushed doctors at the Shifaa hospital to remove the damaged eye.

Abu Rweidah, who studied medical secretary at Al-Azhar University and was graduated only last month, said she has been wounded twice before while participating in the weekly peaceful protests; the first was with two rubber-coated metal bullets in her legs and hand and the second was in her forehead, which was very close to her eye. “If it weren’t for God’s mercy, my eye would have been damaged at the time”, she said.

Jacqueline Shihadeh (31 years old) from Maghazi is a mother of two children. She was wounded nine months ago by the Israelis during Gaza’s Great Return March protests. She told QNN that Israeli soldiers were stationed behind the fence, targeting everyone at the protest.

She was standing close to the fence along with other protesters when Israeli soldiers unexpectedly targeted them with live ammunition and rubber-coated metal bullets in addition to tear gas. A rubber-coated metal bullet wounded her hand then bounced to wound her eye as well.

When she was evacuated to hospital, she found out that she had lacerated tendons in her hand. But the worst part is that her retina was severely damaged and she had hemorrhage in the eye, leading to 90% vision loss.

Although Shihadeh has been getting treatment at specialized medical centers, she hasn’t been healed yet and her hope of restoring eyesight haven’t been fulfilled. It was a psychological damage more than just a physical one.

She told QNN that she can’t do the very simple things that she used to do for her family and children. She can’t focus or read a lot. She has been increasingly losing her morale especially that treatment opportunities in Gaza’s and Palestine’s hospitals are very limited.

“My life has been turned inside out. I didn’t expect that the injury would affect my life this way. My eye looks fine but I need treatment so that I can be able to use it again”, she said.

Both ladies hope to be treated at hospitals in the occupied land. They also called on officials to help them get treatment there because the occupation state rejects all those, who were wounded during participation in the Great Return March protests.

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