"Dad, I'm Dying"

</U>Ola Attallah, IOL Correspondent


</U></I></B></STRONG>Jan 15, 2009

GAZA CITY "Dad, I'm dying."

The words keep echoing in Kamal Awaga's ears, sending jolts of pain into his feeble, wounded body.

These were the last words uttered by his 9-year-old son, Ibrahim, before he ended up as a practicing target for Israeli soldiers.

"They killed my son in cold blood," says the grief-stricken father, still in a state of shock.

Ibrahim joined more than 350 children killed by Israel in its three-week onslaught on the coastal enclave.

But while others fell victim to killer bullets or deadly bombs, Ibrahim's fate was even more tragic.

He became a shooting practice for a squad of Israeli soldiers.

"The Israelis did not show mercy for his innocence," said his tearful father from his bed at the Al-Shefa hospital in Gaza City.

"They had no pity for his tiny body," added the heart-broken father.

A Sunny Day

Nothing in the day prepared the Awaga family for the tragic twist of events that unfolded.

They woke up to a sunny morning after days of being locked in one small room to escape the massive Israeli bombardment.

"Mom, let's have our breakfast out in the garden. I'm tired of staying in this room," the grieved mother recalls Ibrahim's plea.

An hour later, the table was set in the garden and the family was hoping to enjoy rare moments of peace, unaware of the eyes watching them from a distance.

A first missile stole the family's job before another destroyed their house.

"Dad, I am dying," cried Ibrahim to his father who rushed frantically to his side.

"Hurry, let's go," Awaga told his wife and two other children while carrying bleeding Ibrahim.

But even before they could reach the gate, a flood of bullets showered them.

One bullet hit the mother's leg and another hit the father's waist.

Ibrahim's two frightened brothers ran for cover behind the rubbles of their bombed-out house.

Shooting Practice

As the firing died down, the family thought their misery was over. But the Israeli soldiers were not finished yet.

"When the soldiers came closer, I thought they will kill me," said Awaga who faked being dead.

"But they were aiming at my young child," he said choking at the bitter memory.

One soldier came close to Ibrahim's body, turning him by his leg and laughing while another fired his gun to the dead boy's head.

Laughs got louder as they carried the body to a higher place to start their party.

For a whole hour, the father hushed his cries of pain as he watched the Israeli soldiers compete in sniping on his dead son's body.

"They were using his bullet-ridden, bleeding body as a shooting practice.

"With each bullet, they were humming with words I could not figure out, but it sounded full of rapture. It was as if they were celebrating."

When they finally had enough "practicing," the Israelis took their guns and left the house.

Four complete days passed before emergency doctors were able to find their way to the family and rush them to hospital.

"What did my son do to deserve that?" Awaga asks, shaking his head in disbelief.

"The Israelis killed my kid, not once or twice but a thousand times."

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