Update on Boy Killed in Mortar Attack by Turkish Forces
22 October 2020
On Monday, October 19, we met with the mother and father of the boy who was killed in the Turkish forces mortar attack on Ein Issa on 16 Oct. 2020. It was heart-rending. We also learned the boy’s real name and age – he was actually only eight years old and his full name is Hatam Zedan Alkhel.
Hatam (Akmed) was riding his pet donkey and herding the family sheep with two of his brothers when the mortar struck. It decapitated the donkey and cut off its legs. At the same time, Hatam lost almost all of one leg low down by his foot and was lacerated with shrapnel, one piece penetrating deep into his chest cavity.
His brothers were farther from the blast so they received only minor injuries. We worked on Hatam in the Ein Issa hospital and as his condition improved, he was stabilized enough for movement. We sent him by ambulance to Raqqa hospital to get more advanced care. He ended up dying there.
We were shocked and saddened and his parents torn open in grief. His father, Zedan, and mother, Kason, came to us with one of Hatam’s younger brothers, three-year-old Hamood. With tears in his eyes, Zedan, the father, squeezed my hand and asked:
“Why did this happen to our son? This is evil and our hearts are broken. We cry. We fled the fighting in Syria and became refugees in Lebanon. Then we heard that it was safe to come back to the Ein Issa area. So, we came back. I am a farmer and we have four sons. The oldest son, Hatam, [was responsible for] care of the sheep and the animals. He was eight years old and he loved his pet donkey very much. We also have a fine horse that he and all the children like to ride.
On the day Hatam died, he was out riding the donkey with his younger brothers, tending the sheep. Suddenly the mortar strike came in and cut off the donkey’s legs and the head of the donkey. It badly injured my son and then he died.
Is this God’s will? I feel so bad. My wife and I are very sad and at a loss. If I tell you the story will it get out? Will it go around the world and will people care? Will it make a difference? We know who is behind the attacks and it is the Turks. Why do they hate us and why do they hate little boys? Why did they kill my son? Someone please stop them. Please stop them.
We are farmers and we want to live in peace with the land and people. We put our hope in God.”
Karen, Pete, and I held hands with and prayed with the father and mother. Karen gave toys to Hamood and for his brothers. We shared about our hope and comfort in Jesus and helped them financially. We also promised to help them with new horses and donkeys because we also love animals and they need them to survive.
The killing of Hatam is a great evil and tragedy but in the midst of this God has brought our families and team together and we will stand together. All of us are the same. We are all mortal people and one day we will die. But, until that day we are family together in love, in suffering, and in joy. We will help each other as much as we can.
As we got ready to leave, the father said, “I was waiting for my son to become the size of your son Peter and I was going to buy him a bicycle because he wanted it. Now I cannot.”
We hugged each other and through our tears told each other, “I love you.”
Thank you and God bless you,