12-year-old burnt by firebomb amid Arab-Jewish violence sees condition improve

The 12-year-old Arab boy whose injury by a Molotov cocktail in a Jaffa attack shocked the country is now making good progress, his doctor told The Times of Israel on Sunday, adding that he “will almost certainly recover nicely.”

Amid Arab-Jewish rioting, attackers firebombed an Arab home in the Ajami neighborhood of the coastal city on Friday night, injuring two children. A 10-year-old girl was lightly wounded and her 12-year-old brother Muhammad was left with serious injuries.

Israel Police say it is currently unclear whether Muhammad was injured by Jewish attackers targeting Arabs, or by Arab attackers who mistakenly believed the home belonged to a Jewish family. “We are investigating both possibilities,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

Muhammad arrived at Sheba Medical Center with 12% of his body covered by burns and suffering from smoke inhalation, and he had to be mechanically ventilated and sedated, said Dr. Itai Pessach, head of the hospital’s children’s section, on Sunday.

Firebomb victim Muhammad pictured shortly after his home in Jaffa was attacked. (Screenshot/Twitter)

“I’m happy to report we now know there is no damage to his brain, respiratory system, or heart,” said Pessach. “And we are very optimistic regarding his future.

“He will recover fully. He will need rehab and plastic surgery but the impact should be benign,” Pessach said.

Pessach added that early actions by Muhammad’s mother, Nura, made all the difference.

“She took him to the bathroom immediately and washed him, removing the flammable liquid,” Pessach said. “We think this was very important in preventing the burns from becoming more severe.”

Dr. Itai Pessach, head of the hospital’s children’s section at Sheba Medical Center (courtesy of Sheba Medical Center)

Nura’s calm reaction in the crisis also helped his smooth arrival to the hospital.

“He came with his mother and brother who were not hysterical but were worried, as you would expect if a Molotov cocktail were thrown in to your living room during an evening,” Pessach said.

Mohammed was conscious and in stable condition when he arrived at Sheba, where he was given a special biological treatment for burn victims.

“He was burnt on his upper torso and face. He was scared. He was in pain, and we treated him for the pain very rapidly,” Pessach said. “We had to mechanically ventilate and sedate him for the treatment he got and in order to stop him being so scared. That’s part of the standard treatment for any child with burns. We use a very advanced biological treatment for the burns that really improves outcome if given early.”

Pessach said that the boys’ parents are “angry,” but would not be drawn into casting blame.

“They are not blaming the country or a certain group in the country,” Pessach said. “They are just frustrated by the situation and the fact children become part of the conflict.

“As I speak the boy is lying in his bed. On one side he has children from places under attack like Ashkelon and Ashdod, and nearby there are children from the Bank and also from Gaza. He is treated by people from all over Israel, Arabs and Jews together,” Pessach said.

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