My mother got hit. My sisters got hit. I looked down and saw my leg and that's all I remember". That's how Abdullah Athmaneh recalls the day he lost his right leg.

The eight-year-old Jabaliya resident is sitting in the living room of his family's second floor flat. His father's arm is around him.

In 2004, the Athmaneh family was caught in tank fire during an Israeli raid in the north of Gaza.

Abdullah's father, Ramez fills in the details that Abdullah can't recall. "We were sleeping in our room, myself, Abdullah, his mum and two sisters.

At 5:30 in the morning, we woke up to the sound of tank shelling. The windows shattered. I heard shouting. I ran out and called for the ambulance."

When he returned he found that things had taken a turn for the worse.

"When I got back home with the ambulance, they had fired five more shells at the house. I had no idea what had happened to my kids and my wife. I started pulling out the injured - arms were severed, legs were severed, heads were opened. Abdullah said to me 'Dad, mum is dead and so are my sisters.' He said it just like that."

Stories like this are nothing new in northern Gaza. Many children in the neighbourhood live with missing limbs, and prosthetics here are unwieldy, and badly made. In an area where few luxuries can be afforded, new limbs come low down on the list of priorities.

Abdullah pulls off his sock and displays his aged and broken prosthetic. He says it makes him bleed and it hurts him.

If you had mentioned Dubai to Abdullah a few weeks ago he wouldn't have known where it was. But now the sweet-faced boy is on his way to the UAE to befitted with a stronger, lighter leg.

"I haven't changed it for two and a half years," he tells us as tears fill his eyes. "I want them to fit me with a new leg so I can swim in the sea and walk on the beach, and play with my friends. I want to carry on with my studies and not have to keep worrying about my leg all the time."

The Palestinian Children's Relief Fund (PCRF) has selected some of the children with the greatest need to travel to the UAE to receive new limbs. Abdullah is bravely looking forward to his three weeks in Dubai. The Mohammad Bin Rashid Foundation is sponsoring his trip to Dubai and his treatment.

"I'm excited about going to Dubai," he tells us.

"I am wondering what it's going to be like, what places I will see."

After so much tragedy, the family hopes that Abdullah's new limb will allow him to have a normal, happy childhood.

"When I come back from Dubai I want to be happy like the other children are happy." "I get frustrated when I look at them," he says.

megan hirons/Gulf News

Set to make a fresh start

Abdullah Athmaneh at his home in Jabaliya refugee camp. Abdullah lost the lower part of his leg after five tank shells hit his family's home.