Hope, pain in film about Palestinian organ donor

Mon Jul 14, 2008 9:12am EDT
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By Rebecca Harrison

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Of the hundreds of tragic tales of children killed during decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Ahmed Khatib's must rank among the most remarkable.

Khatib was shot dead in 2005 by Israeli soldiers who mistook him for a gunman in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin. Still grieving, his father agreed to donate Ahmed's heart, liver, lungs and kidneys to save the lives of Israeli children.

Offering a startling vision of hope while laying bare the deep divisions between Israelis and Palestinians, "The Heart of Jenin," a new German-Israeli documentary film, recounts the story of Ahmed, his father, and three of the five people who received the donated organs.

"It's not about politics, about Jews or Arabs, it's about human beings," said Ismail Khatib, Ahmed's father, in an interview after the film's premiere in Jerusalem.

"I see my son in these children."

Khatib and his wife decided to donate Ahmed's organs after doctors at an Israeli hospital in Haifa were unable to save him. Palestinian hospitals lacked the facilities to treat their dying son or make use of his organs.

They hesitated at first over whether to include his heart, but eventually agreed, and now it beats in the chest of Samah Gadban, a pretty Druze Muslim teenager from northern Israel.

One of Ahmed's kidneys saved the life of Mohammed Kabua, a Bedouin child who lives in Israel's southern Negev desert and rarely stops grinning in the film. Two other Israeli recipients of his organs requested to remain anonymous.   Continued...