“I will take back my grandparents’ land”, pledges Gaza’s onion boy

GAZA: A 9-year-old little young but brave warrior becomes a latest symbol of Palestinian resistance against the Israeli Occupation.

Image of Mohamed Ayyash wearing hand-made mask during the “Land Day” near the Gaza-Israeli border last Friday went viral on social media platforms.

Mohamed wore the surgical mask containing an onion stalk to protect himself from inhaling tear gas fired by the Israeli troops.

In a unique interview with Al Jazeera Arabic, Mohamed told that he originally got the idea of makeshift “onion mask” from his father Bassam Ayyash, who was injured in 1989 during the first intifada of December 1987 in which about 2,000 Palestinians were killed.

“My father got injured in the first intifada and used to tell me stories about (the onion mask),” Mohamed told Al Jazeera.

“I tried to recreate it and then it came out like that. I didn’t expect that my picture would go viral.”

On Thursday, Mohammed’s father told Al Jazeera that the “onion mask” is used to defy the endemic Israeli use of devastating tear gas as it reduce the effect of tear gas on nerves and helps keep composure.

“It would even help you pick up a gas grenade and throw it back at the soldiers,” he said.

After the picture went viral, Mohamed told that he wasn’t scared of the Israeli troops.

“I don’t fear them, they fear us,” Mohammed said. “They’re scared because they have no land here, they came from a different land and they want to take Jerusalem,” he added.

When asked about the reason for his participation in the deadly protests, Mohammed said:

“My goal is to take back my land, my grandparents’ land, and the memories of my family.”

Mohammed’s family used to live in historical town of Jaffa but has been displaced during the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Zionist militias in 1948. The family now lives in Maghazi camp which is located in the centre of the Gaza Strip.

Ismail Haniyeh, Chief of Hamas Political Bureau awarded Mohammed for his bravery and determination.

The courageous boy had recently blessed with a baby sister.

She was named Ahed al-Tamimi after the 16-year-old Palestinian activist was arrested by Israeli soldiers during a pre-dawn raid on her home in Nabi Saleh in December 2018 and has been imprisoned since.