Muhammad Farmawi, the 15-year-old boy from the Gaza Strip who was thought to have been killed by IDF soldiers last week, revealed on Monday that he had been held in an Egyptian prison.
Farmawi, who went missing on Tuesday last week, said he infiltrated the Egyptian border through an underground tunnel. He said that he and several Palestinian teenagers who were with him were tortured by Egyptian soldiers while in prison.
The teenager is now being dubbed by Palestinians as The Returning Shaheed [martyr].
“We were collecting small stones near the Gaza International Airport when we heard gunfire,” the boy told local reporters. “As soon as we heard the gunfire, we ran toward the border with Egypt.”
Farmawi said that he and his friends discovered an underground tunnel and decided to hide inside it.
“It was a short tunnel,” he recounted. “We started crawling inside it until we saw light.”
Emerging from the opening, the teenagers discovered that they were in the middle of an agricultural field on the Egyptian side of the border. Within minutes, they were surrounded by Egyptian border guards who handcuffed and blindfolded them before taking them to prison.
According to Farmawi, who spent three days in prison, the Egyptian soldiers and policemen beat him and his friends with clubs and electric wires and forced them to sleep on the floor without mattresses or blankets.
“In addition to the beatings and verbal abuse, they gave us rotten food to eat,” he said.
Over the weekend, the Egyptians released Farmawi and 12 other teenagers, as well as five fishermen who had entered Egypt illegally, and handed them over to the Hamas-controlled security forces in the Gaza Strip.
Farmawi was declared a martyr after Palestinians in the Gaza Strip claimed that he had been shot during an IDF operation near Rafah. A Palestinian news agency even quoted “medical sources” as confirming the teenager’s death at a local hospital.
His alleged death by IDF gunfire received wide coverage in the
Palestinian and Arab media. His father, Zeidan, 41, said he heard about
his son’s death from a local radio station.
His family refused to receive condolences over his “martyrdom” until he
was brought to burial. The assumption at the time was that Farmawi’s
body was still lying in the area where he was allegedly shot by the IDF.
Asked if he would ever consider returning to Egypt, the teenager
replied: “After what happened to me in Egyptian prison, I won’t go back
there even if they offered me $1 million.”