Slain Palestinian boy's organs donated
Father says child's spirit is alive in 'every Israeli'
NABLUS, West Bank (AP) -- The father of a Palestinian boy shot dead by Israeli soldiers said Monday he believes his son's spirit is alive in "every Israeli" after donating the boy's organs to Israelis waiting for transplants.
Ismail Khatib said he was extremely proud of his decision, even if some corners of Palestinian society might be upset with him.
"No one can tell me what to do," he said. "I feel very good that my son's organs are helping six Israelis. ... I feel that my son has entered the heart of every Israeli." (Watch: A gift of life -- 1:48)
Khatib's son Ahmed, 12, was shot Thursday while Israeli troops conducted a raid in Jenin. The soldiers said the boy was carrying a toy rifle and they mistook him for a militant.
Ahmed died of his wounds late Saturday at an Israeli hospital. On Sunday, his kidneys, liver, lungs and heart were transplanted into recipients ranging in age from a 7-month-old baby to a 58-year-old woman and including Jews, Arabs and a Druse girl.
Khatib said the decision to donate Ahmed's organs was rooted in his memories of his brother, who died at age 24 while waiting for a liver transplant, and in his family's desire to help others regardless of their nationality. He said he hoped the gesture would send a message of peace to Israelis and Palestinians.
"We're talking about young children. Their religion doesn't make a difference," he said.
Some Palestinians privately questioned the donation, especially in light of the circumstances of the boy's death. But Khatib, a car mechanic, said his fellow residents in the Jenin refugee camp offered him only praise.
Israel has a chronic shortage of donor organs that many medical officials attribute to Jewish religious taboos against such donations.
Riad Gadban, whose 12-year-old daughter Samah had been waiting five years for a heart, called the donation a "gesture of love." He said his daughter was weak Monday but had opened her eyes, was alert and speaking to relatives.
Gadban, whose family belongs to Israel's Arabic-speaking Druse community, said he spoke to an uncle of the boy Monday.
"I told him I'm very sorry and thanked the family from the depths of my heart," he said, adding that he invited Ahmed's family to visit him.
Khatib said the many phone calls he received included a conversation Sunday with Israel's acting finance minister, Ehud Olmert, one of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's closest confidants.
He said Olmert apologized for the boy's death and invited him to Jerusalem. Khatib said he had not yet decided whether to accept the offer.