4-year-old airlifted to hospital after crocodile bite in southern Israel

"I heard screams - I went over and his hand looked like it had been torn off," the mother said.

A crocodile spotted in the northern moshav of Beit Hanania (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
A crocodile spotted in the northern moshav of Beit Hanania
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
A four-year-old boy was injured on Saturday after being bitten on the hand by a crocodile while spending time at the Crocoloco Crocodile Farm in the Arava Desert in southern Israel. 
MDA medics and paramedics provided the boy with medical treatment before evacuating him in an MDA helicopter to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, as the boy was classified in moderate-to-severe serious condition by the MDA at the scene. 
According to Dr. Yuri Kalasov from Soroka's orthopedic surgery ward, surgeons were able to regain vitality in the boy's hand, mend several of the broken bones and repair tissues within the hand, though the boy is expected to undergo additional surgeries. 
The head Security Officer for the Central Arava Regional Council, Uri Lev, described the chain of events which led up to the bite.
"The instructions given at the entrance to the site are not to approach the fence and the pools and to watch from a distance of at least one meter," he said. "The instructions were translated into Arabic for the child by his mother."
Lev added that "the boy wandered alone for a few moments, approached the young crocodiles' pool - defying the saftey instructions - and put his hand through the fence. One of the young crocodiles grabbed his palm with his teeth and scratched it."
"The boy was quickly pulled over by a trainer who noticed what was happening. MDA volunteers from Sapir quickly arrived at the scene, bandaging the bleeding hand using a tourniquet," Lev added.
Hanan, the boy's mother, told N12 that the two "were on a Saturday trip. We were hanging around the park and having fun, and he probably wanted to go back in, I didn't really see." 
"I heard screams - I went over and his hand looked like it had been torn off," the mother said.
Regarding his health condition, Hanan said "He has been taken to the operating room, they said it would probably take a long time. He has been anaesthetized  and his breathing has stabilized."
After the incident, MDA paramedic Gadi Gohar and MDA paramedic Danny Aviv said "when we arrived at the scene, we saw a 4-year-old boy in his mother's arms.  He had suffered an injury to his hand and was in pain. We saw bite marks. People at the scene gave him first aid at the remote direction of an MDA paramedic and stopped his bleeding." 
The MDA team were not alone in their treatment however, adding that "with the help of an IDF medical force, we provided him with life-saving medical treatment along with pain medications and transferred using an MDA helicopter that landed nearby and evacuated him to Soroka Hospital when his condition was moderate-to-severe."
Police from the Dimona police station are currently investigating the circumstances which led to the incident.
Ofer, the park manager, has been taken in by police for questioning in suspicion of negligent endangerment  and operating without a business license. In an earlier statement, he told N12 that "there is unnecessary hysteria here." 
He continued to seemingly play down the event, saying it is "equivalent to a dog bite, a bite along the hand. We put a bandage on him."
Ofer's words seem to contradict all other versions of the story. Dr. Kalasov said the hand had several broken bones and damaged tissue when the boy came in.
Beforehand, the mother had described a much more gruesome injury and the Security Officer said the treatment involved applying a tourniquet, which would not have to be applied in the case of a scratch.
The Nature and Parks Authority released a statement after the incident, saying the farm "is a private place. The authority approves the posesssion of dangerous animals as long as their welfare is taken care of and excape prevention measures are taken. The owner of the facility is obliged to manage the risks and prevent risk to the public. The owner is well known and has years of experience posessing crocodiles, along with all of the proper permits."