In 2016, Alaa al-Dali, a Palestinian youth in the Gaza Strip, was awarded a bicycle by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Two years later, the 21-year-old man lost his leg after being shot by Israeli soldiers stationed on border of the Gaza Strip during protests against the decades-long Israeli occupation.
“I feel the [Israeli] occupation has destroyed all my dreams,” al-Dali told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.
The Palestinian youth received his bike as a personal gift from Erdogan in September 2016. Even since, he has been using the bike for training to become a professional biker.
Turkey sent around 14,000 tons of aid to the Gaza Strip aboard two vessels in in 2016 and a third in mid- 2017 as part of Turkish effort to alleviate the suffering of nearly two million Gazans, who have been reeling under a crippling Israeli blockade imposed since 2017.
“We thank Turkey for its support for us,” al-Dali said.
“I hope Turkey will continue to support us so that we can continue our sports dreams," he said.
Al-Dali began his passion of biking when he was eight years-old and joined the Palestinian national team in 2014 and won a number of medals.
He was set to take part with the Palestinian national team in a race contest in the Indonesian capital Jakarta next month.
Now, his plans have hit a dead end after losing his leg.
Recalling his injury, al-Dali said he was wearing his sport outfit and was standing peacefully some 200 meters far from the borderline when he was shot in his right leg.
“I fell to the ground after being shot,” the Palestinian youth bitterly recalled.
He was moved to a nearby hospital, but it was overwhelmed with injured Gazans, forcing him to wait for around three hours to get medical attention.
The Palestinian biker spent two days in intensive care and underwent eight operations in an effort to save his future career but all in vain that amputation was the only option.
He underwent an artery transplant operation but also failed.
“The operation failed because of the effect of the explosive bullet used by Israeli soldiers that dissolves any implanted artery,” al-Dali said.
At least 41 Palestinians have been killed and hundreds injured by Israeli gunfire since Palestinian protests demanding the return of refugees to their towns and villages in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel began on March 30.
The rallies are part of a six-week protest that will culminate on May 15. That day will mark the 70th anniversary of Israel's establishment — an event Palestinians refer to as the "Nakba" or "Catastrophe".