Palestinian toddlerA Palestinian toddler has lived all of his life in the yellow-painted children’s ward of Israel’s Tel Hashomer hospital, where he receives daily care after being abandoned by his parents.

Born in Gaza, Mohammed al-Farra now gets around in a tiny red wheelchair, suffering from a rare genetic disease that meant his hands and feet had to be amputated.

He lives at the hospital with his grandfather, Hamouda al-Farra, after his Gazan parents abandoned him and the Palestinian government refused to pay for his care.

Mohammed’s Israeli doctors, who have grown attached to the boy, fundraise to cover his bills, allowing him and his grandfather to live in the sunny pediatric ward.

Dr Raz Somech, Senior physician at the Tel Hashomer Medical Centre:

“I see it as a great honour to take care of them. It’s a huge challenge, not just from a professional point of view – because again they are coming with severe conditions, in severe, complicated cases – but not from the professional point of view, but also from a humanitarian point of view, from a cultural point of view. I think here in the hospital department, we are building a real bridge, between living with our neighbours.”

Mohammed’s plight is an extreme example of the harsh treatment some families subject the disabled to – particularly in tribal corners of the Gaza Strip. According to his grandfather, Mohammed’s parents are first cousins. He said Mohammed’s mother abandoned her son because her husband threatened to marry another woman if she didn’t leave the baby and return home.

For now Mohammed’s future remains unclear – as a Palestinian, he is not eligible for permanent Israeli residency. Yet his family will not take the child back and his grandfather is growing weary of living in the hospital, saying he wants to go home and wishes he could find a foster care home or a caregiver for the boy.

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