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Child amputee persuades Israel to clear landmines

An eleven year-old boy has persuaded the Israeli government to start clearing some of its 260,000 landmines.

Daniel Yuval, has been through a dozen operations since February when his right leg was blown off by a landmine planted in the Golan Heights decades ago.

Just a month after his accident, Daniel had learnt to walk his first steps with a false leg, had his dressings changed without an aesthetic and already caught up after all the time he missed at school – getting 90 per cent in a recent science exam.

Even more remarkably, Daniel has managed to persuade a majority in the Israeli parliament to finally start to clear some 260,000 landmines planted about forty years ago that make an patch of land about the size of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv together a no go area.

Daniel was hurt when his mother and father, Guy and Tali Yuval, his brother and three sisters, decided to make a detour to the Golan Heights, on their way to visit the children's grandparents in Haifa. Guy left the two younger girls with their mother in the car, while he, Daniel, Amit, 12 and Yoav, 8 walked into the Mount Avital nature reserve. Many other families had had the same idea.

"We threw snowballs and played around for about five minutes," said Daniel. "Then I remember taking a step forward and I heard the explosion. For a few minutes I don't remember much. My father picked me up," he told The Independent newspaper.

His father Guy put a tourniquet on Daniel's right. "I was suddenly alone now and we were in the middle of a minefield."

Unsure where there might be more mines, Mr Yuval followed his family’s footsteps back to safety. "Daniel asked me at one point if we could stop for a second and attach his leg back on," he remembered.

Daniel later wrote a letter to all 120 members of parliament explaining how when he awoke from the surgery at the hospital and saw his amputated, leg," he wrote, "I told my Mum that I wanted no one else to ever be hurt by a landmine, and that I mean to do something about that."

Since then he has launched a high-profile campaign, spoken to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and met the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi, who is now promoting a bill to set up a mines clearance authority. It’s a task that is going to cost $60m (£42m).

Hayley attribution