Harpoons (stock image)
Harpoons (stock image)iStock

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

"Another centimeter and he'd be dead," said Dr. Gustavo Moiguer, calling it "a miracle" the harpoon missed crucial organs such as his eyes and brain.

The sight of a man holding a 60-centimeter (24-inch) metal projectile jutting from his face was not an everyday one for staff at the Carmel medical center in Haifa.

"It was like something we'd see in Westerns (films) as children," said Moiguer, head of the maxillofacial surgery department in the northern port city hospital.

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 center, and he ran the 200 meters (656 feet) 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.

Two days later Netanel was released, Moiguer said.

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