The Herald (South Africa)

Israeli struck in face with harpoon lucky to be alive


AN Israeli man has survived being shot in the face with a harpoon used on sharks by running to a hospital and having it removed, a doctor said yesterday.

“Another centimetre and he’d be dead,” Dr Gustavo Moiguer said, calling it a miracle the harpoon missed crucial organs such as his eyes and brain.

The sight of a man holding a 60cm metal projectile jutting from his face was not an everyday one for staff at the Carmel medical centre in Haifa.

“It was like something we’d see in Westerns [films] as children,” Moiguer, head of the maxillofac­ial surgery department at the hospital, said.

Police said they were investigat­ing the incident, whose circumstan­ces remained vague.

Authoritie­s declined to say who may have been responsibl­e for shooting him.

The 28-year-old, identified by the hospital only as Netanel, had been in a car on February 6 when a person approached and shot him in the head, apparently with a speargun. The spear entered his right cheek, crossing his face diagonally and piercing his mouth and jaw.

It halted at the left side of his neck, just before piercing major blood vessels, Moiguer said.

Netanel was attacked a short distance from the Carmel medical centre, and he ran the 200 metres there holding the spear in place, the doctor said.

“I was choking as I felt my mouth filling with blood,” Netanel said in remarks relayed by a hospital spokesman.

“I could barely keep on my feet.”

Moiguer and his team carefully unscrewed the metal projectile, apparently used on sharks and comprising two parts, removing the shaft from the wound and cutting a safe exit in Netanel’s neck for the tip.

They then carried out reconstruc­tive surgery on Netanel’s lower jaw.

“I think it was a miracle,” Netanel said. “God must love me to keep me alive.”

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