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'Dead' Gaza boy returns home alive and well

April 2, 2010 9:30 A.M. (Updated: April 4, 2010 8:55 A.M.)
Gaza – Ma'an – A Palestinian teenager reportedly killed by Israeli forces has returned home alive and well, his family said Friday.

The Health Ministry in Gaza reported Tuesday that Muhammad Zen Ismail Al-Farmawi, 15, was killed when Israeli forces opened fire on a Land Day rally near the defunct Yasser Arafat International Airport in Rafah.

At the time, Israel's military repeatedly denied involvement.

It turns out Al-Farmawi was among 17 Palestinians detained by Egyptian forces shortly after the infiltrated the Egyptian side of Rafah via one of Gaza's numerous underground smuggling tunnels. The detainees, among them 12 minors, were returned to security forces at the border on Friday. They had been questioned about tunnel locations, leading to at least three closures, Egyptian security sources said.

Relatives expressed "overwhelming happiness" that their son was unharmed during the violence, our correspondent reported from Rafah.

Muawiya Hassanein, Health Ministry director of ambulance and emergency services in Gaza, told Ma'an that after "huge efforts and contacts" to return the boy's body, officials found him among those who were detained. He was assumed to have died in the clashes Tuesday after a Palestinian ambulance crew was refused permission to access to the area following reports of deadly fire, Hassanein explained at the time.

In what would turn out to be a second erroneous explanation that day, local residents also told Ma'an at the time that while the boy was indeed killed, the Israeli military was not involved. The purported death was an "internal matter," locals said, insisting on anonymity.

Meanwhile, Palestinian medics found the body of another young Palestinian who had been declared dead eight days earlier. The corpse, discovered in Khuza'a, east of Khan Younis, was identified as Jihad Ei'tah Ad-Dughmah, 23, by medics at An-Nasser Hospital. It was found near the site of recent clashes along the Israeli border fence in southern Gaza that left three Palestinians and two Israelis dead.

Islamic Jihad's Al-Quds Brigades had reported that Ad-Dughmah was one of its operatives. He reportedly went missing during the battle.

Last Sunday, Israeli forces told Ma'an they had discovered the body of Suleiman Abu Arafat, another Islamic Jihad-aligned fighter who was killed in the incident, which also left two Israeli soldiers and 10 Palestinians injured. Abu Arafat's body was handed over to Palestinian medics, the Health Ministry confirmed.

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