Eleven-year-old Daniel Yuval has been through a dozen operations since February 2010, when his right leg was blown off by a landmine planted decades ago in the Golan Heights, which overlook northern Israel and southern Syria. Just a month after his accident, Yuval learned to walk with a prosthesis. He has already caught up after all the time he missed at school-earning 90 percent on a recent science exam. Even more remarkable, according to an article on the SOS Children’s Villages website, Yuval has persuaded a majority in the Israeli parliament to start clearing approximately 260,000 landmines planted about 40 years ago. The landmines cover a section of land that is equivalent in size to the combined area of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Yuval was injured when his family decided to make a detour to the Mount Avital nature reserve in the Golan Heights on their way to visit relatives in Haifa, Israel.
“We threw snowballs and played around for about five minutes,” Yuval is quoted as saying. “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.”
His father, Guy Yuval, tied a tourniquet around the remainder of his son’s right leg, and then carried him to safety despite being injured himself. “Daniel asked me at one point if we could stop for a second and [re]attach his leg…,” Guy Yuval remembered.
The 11-year-old 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, “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 Yuval has launched a high-profile campaign, spoken to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and met the parliamentary Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi, who is now promoting a bill to set up a mine-clearance authority. The clean-up is estimated to cost $60 million.