Te gast: brief van Bassam Aramin, vader van Abir die werd gedood, aan Hisam, vader van Ahmed die werd gedood bij de demonstraties tegen de muur in Ni’Lin. Gevolgd door een ooggetuigeverslag van de begrafenis. Een een videofilmpje.
From One Bereaved Palestinian Father to Another
An open letter by Bassam Aramin, co-founder of Combatants for Peace
Translated from the Arabic by Miriam Asnes
Dear Hisam, father of Ahmed, may he rest in peace,
I learned of the death of your son, Ahmed Musa, through a one-sentence newsflash on the Palestinian news station Ma’an last Tuesday: “Ahmed Musa, a young boy, was killed by a bullet of the occupying forces in Nil’in.” I was immediately overcome with shock and grief and bitter tears. And above all, that relentless feeling of powerlessness that I know too well. We Palestinians cannot protect our children from being killed. Not because they are soldiers on the battlefield, but because we cannot imprison them in our homes. They must live their lives, play outside the house, go to school. We tell ourselves that there must be in our land a safe place to protect our little ones. Should not our villages be safe? Should not the courtyards of our homes be safe? And the safest place of all—should this not be the schoolyard?
But our children are still murdered in cold blood in front of our homes, in the heart of our villages and in our schools. For on another black Tuesday a year and a half ago, soldiers of the occupation killed my own beloved ten-year-old daughter. Abir Aramin was shot in the head in front of her school in the village of Anata on January 16th, 2007. Ahmed and Abir passed on the same day of the week, at the same age; both were shot in the head by the same kind of killer: one of the Israeli border patrol guards.
The moment I heard the news of your son’s death, I found myself speaking aloud to him. “Ya Ahmed, please give my regards and my love to Abir. Your two pure souls will meet in paradise. Go in peace, beloved, do not fear for you are not alone—there are others there waiting for you. Ready to greet you are more than a thousand Palestinian children who have been killed since the year 2000. And though I hope with all my heart, Ahmed, that you will be the last victim of these legitimized Israeli war crimes, I cannot help but wonder—who will be killed next?”
We Palestinian parents—are we not fully responsible for what happens to our children? For why do we allow our children to go out into the streets in the light of day? Why do we permit them play outside the house? Why do we not only let them, but actually encourage them to go to school and be educated? And even more importantly, I place the blame our martyred children—how dare you let your heads get in the way of the Israeli sharpshooters? Let’s try to be reasonable: the soldiers of the occupation don’t really want to kill our children, it can’t be a deliberate policy of intimidation and violence—they are simply trying to help us keep our children in a safe place. And clearly they believe that the safest place for our children to be, where no one can harm them, is in their graves.
When I heard what happened to Ahmed, I was in the middle of reading a book about international human rights and the specific laws pertaining to children in times of war and armed struggle. Every Palestinian should read these laws until he knows his rights, and every Israeli should read these same laws until he understands the enormity of the criminal and fascist practices of the Israeli army against the Palestinian people.
Major General Gabi Ashkenazi, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Occupation Forces, has said that “My greatest fear is the loss of humanity [among Israeli troops] because of the ongoing warfare.” I must inform the distinguished General that he lost his humanity a long time ago. He and his army should fear for their loss of humanity, for under his leadership the Israeli army killed Ahmed Musa. And if he doesn’t care about Ahmed because he is a Palestinian, General Ashkenazi should at least be afraid that his army has lost its humanity in its treatment of Israelis as well. We have all seen how Israeli soldiers treat their own people who join us Palestinians in peaceful protest in Bil’in and Nil’in and Artash and in the Galilee and in Tulkarem. Did the General see when soldiers fired rubber bullets at Dr. Tsfiyah Shapira and her son Itamar, who were participating in a peaceful march in the village of Shufa near Tulkarem alongside many peace activists? I’m guessing that he did witness this, in fact I would guess that General Ashkenazi ordered this operation and the many others like it. Look closely, General, and you will find the source of your fear.
Hisam, Ahmed and Abir have gone to the hereafter, and I promise you that in eternity they will outlive their murderers. Our children are the epitome of innocent humanity, and their killers are the most despicable of criminals. But while such ruthless men exist as part of the occupying army, please know that there are thousands of Israelis who refuse to participate in these crimes, who are ashamed at the bloody stains that soak the uniform of the Israeli army and all those who would call its conduct moral or democratic. There are Israelis like Tsfiya and Itamar who feel it is their moral, and human, duty to stand with us.
They have killed our children, Hisam. What can we do but fight on? We will never lay down our arms. For despite the advanced military technology and deadly force that we face, it is we who posses the most dangerous weapons of all. These are the weapons of morality and justice. We will not surrender these in the face of brutality, and we will be steadfast in demanding justice for our children. Ahmed and Abir’s murderers must be judged and sentenced as criminals. Let me be clear: we do not seek revenge. Justice for our beloved, dead children will not be served by the murder of a young Israeli girl in front of her school, or by the murder of a young Israeli boy by a bullet to the head. We will refuse to mirror the violent means of the occupation. You and I, and every Palestinian, must let our morals and our humanity and the teachings of our great faith be our guides.
Yours in bereavement and steadfastness,
Alquds for Democracy and Dialogue chairman
By Kim Bullimore – The West Bank
Another child has just been murdered.
On Tuesday, July 29, Ahmed Ussam Yusef Mousa, aged 10, was shot dead with a single shot to the head by Israeli occupation forces. Ahmed was murdered, just before 6pm, when he and a group of youth from Ni’lin village attempted to dismantle a section of barbwire fencing erected on the village’s land by the Israeli occupation forces.
Ahmed is now the twelfth person and seventh child to be killed by the Israeli occupation forces in demonstrations against the apartheid fence . He is one of more than 840 Palestinian children killed by the Israeli Zionist state since the beginning of the Al Aqsa Intifada in September 2000 .
My IWPS team mate and myself received the news of Ahmed’s death last night as we arrived in Ramallah. Within fifteen minutes we were at the hospital. As we arrived Ahmed’s little body was being brought into the hospital. My teammate and myself were “lucky” in that we did not see Ahmed but two of our friends and activists from the ISM, who were at the hospital, did. Both experienced activists, they spoke quietly and with disbelief of how tiny Ahmed was.
The initial shock, grief and tears we all felt were held at bay over the next few hours as we worked in the ISM’s media office, ringing media persons, outlets, pulling together media releases. As we emailed out the press releases to the media and our various networks around the world, the emails poured in expressing shock, outrage and heartache.
As the night wore on we sat with each other, listened and supported each other, especially with those of use who had close ties with the villagers of Ni’lin and who had witnessed the arrival of Ahmed’s body at the hospital. None of us could sleep, although we were all exhausted and we sat in the garden as the early hours of the mourning came upon us. Finally at around 3am, we forced ourselves to go to bed, but we all spent a sleepless night thinking about the grief the family must be experiencing – their shock, horror and disbelief – that their little boy was no longer with them.
In the morning, other members of the ISM and IWPS began to arrive in Ramallah, so we could all go to the hospital at 10am to be part of Ahmed’s funeral procession and to accompany his family home with his body. At 10.30am, Ahmed’s family arrived, accompanied by many of the villagers from Ni’lin who came to pay their respects. Soon Ahmed’s body was brought out and placed in the ambulance. As the ambulance drove out of the hospital car park, we took our place in the funeral procession made up of dozens of cars filled with villagers and others had come to pay their respects. Over the next 45 minutes, as we made our way through the streets of centre of Ramallah, we were joined by more cars, trucks and taxis. Many of the cars displayed Ahmed’s shihad or martyr poster (in Palestine the word martyr refers to anyone killed as a result of the Israeli occupation, not just militants who participate in suicide bombings or who are part of the armed resistance in the camps. Martyrs can be children and/or adults, who have died at the hands of the Israeli military). Ahmed’s poster displayed a handsome little boy, who was small and slight of build. Each time I looked at the poster, I wondered how anyone one could think that this tiny child could be such a threat to the security of their state? What could posses any person to think that the appropriate response to a small child was to fire live ammunition, deliberately shooting to kill?
As I looked at his photograph trying to image why Ahmed had to die, his funeral procession began to make its way out of Ramallah. As we left the city and began to traverse the hills and pass through the surrounding Palestinian villages, we sat in silence, very little to say to each other. As the procession drove on the chants from the Palestinian mourners continued, remembering Ahmed, God and opposing the occupation and the apartheid wall.
As we weaved our way through one village after another, more cars joined us and villagers came to stand on the streets to offer their silent condolences and respect for Ahmed and his family. Along with adults, young children also lined the streets of the villages we passed through. My heart broke as I watch their little faces, many of them too young to comprehend what the procession was about. But as I watched these small children through the windows of our car, I kept wondering if one day they too would share the same fate as Ahmed. And the sadness and anger in me grew once again.
As we approached Bil’in village, a young father stood on the side of the road, along with a group of young children, many no doubt his own. They stood silent, bravely, in dignity with Palestinian flags held high in remembrance of Ahmed. Suddenly, all the composure and restraint I had imposed on myself since we first heard the news of Ahmed’s death left me and tears began to stream down my face.
When we reached Bil’in, many of the village residents who had been active in the struggle to save the lands of their village were waiting for the funeral procession. As the procession wound through the village, many of them joined us, as we began to make the last leg of the journey to Ni’lin.
As we neared the settler highway that we must traverse to get to Ni’lin, we began to anxiously scan the hills and fields for the Israeli occupation forces who would be waiting for the funeral procession. As rounded the last bend before the highway, we caught our first glimpse of them and wondered would they try and stop the funeral procession? Would the use violence us? Would they attack the funeral procession, as the Israeli military had done on so many occasions before?
As we reached the highway, we could see the Israeli occupation forces had blocked the road and stopped Israeli plated cars from continuing towards the village’s entrance. This sight was a relief. Perhaps, we thought, they will let the funeral procession proceed unhindered. However, as we got closer to the entrance of the village and we and the rest of the Palestinians mourners and other internationals poured out of the vehicles on to the highway, we could see the Israeli occupation forces had set up another barricade near the village entrance. While the barricade did not prevent entry to the village, it was a clear sign that the military want to make their presence known. By placing the barrier directly opposite the entrance, rather then setting it up 50 or 100 or 200 metres or more away as they could have easily have done, the Israeli military seemed intent on provoking a confrontation with the mourners.
As Ahmed’s tiny body, wrapped in his funeral shroud, was carried above the crowd, the mourners chanted his martyrdom, against the occupation and the wall and for the greatness of God. Soon, smaller groups broke off from the procession to confront the soldiers, yelling at them angrily, as the emotions, anger and grief surrounding Ahmed’s death spilled over. In response the Israeli occupation forces began to throw sound grenades and flash bombs. As myself and one of my IWPS teammates moved closer to the front line to try and offer some sort of international presence, teargas began to be fired by the Israeli military. For the next few minutes, we were caught between the military firing on us and the young Palestinian men throwing stones in response to the occupation forces attack on the funeral procession.
As people began to run, we were swept up in the chaos and at one point people tried to crush past a park car, resulting in several young boys being dragged down and trampled. Suddenly, I saw a man dragging the limp body of a young teenage boy and at first my heart went to my mouth, as I thought another child had been shot. As the young boy was dragged to safety, he began to gain consciousness and my relief was palpable.
Tears streaming down my eyes from the teargas, I tried to locate my teammate and the internationals amongst the mourners who began to regroup. Soon, the funeral procession began to make its way once again, with Ahmed’s tiny body, towards the mosque. As Ahmed was carried up the stairs into the mosque, prayers were called and we waited in quite vigil for Ahmed and his family.
When the prayers finished, Ahmed was brought from the mosque and taken once again by funeral procession to the village burial ground. We walked quietly, as again the chants from the villagers and others Palestinians spoke of Ahmed’s martyrdom, God and the occupation.
As we approached the burial grounds, women stood atop the house near where little Ahmed would be buried. As the funeral procession passed by they ululated, performing the zachrohtah, the traditional sound made to wish someone well. In performing this tradition, the women sought to ensure Ahmed’s journey to paradise would be happy and joyful.
As the men accompanied Ahmed’s body for burial, we decided to remain outside. As we waited quietly, two young girls, both under the age of ten, shyly came to say hello. As we conversed, they asked me my name, where I lived and other innocent questions. As I responded, in my badly pronounced Arabic, they also began to ask if I liked Noor, the widely popular Turkish soap opera (which is dubbed in Arabic) that is showing at the moment on Palestinian television. I asked them if they liked Mohanad, the male lead, who all the Palestinian girls and young women have fallen in love with and they told me yes. As I practiced my Arabic with them and spoke of the things little girls find interesting and joyful, I thought again of Ahmed who will never have the chance to play games with his friends or his family and of how he would never be able to speak of the television shows he loved. And again the sadness swept over me for Ahmed and for his family, who would miss him so much.
*17 year old, Yousef Ahmad Younis Amera was shot in the head, twice, with rubber coated steel bullets at close range by the Israeli military, in Ni’lin village several hours after Ahmed was buried. Yousef was declared brain dead several hours after he was shot by the Israeli occupation forces.
– Kim Bullimore is currently living the Occupied West Bank, where she is a human rights volunteer with the International Women’s Peace Service (www.iwps.info). She has a blog www.livefromoccupiedpalestine.blogspot.com and is a regular writer on Palestine-Israel issues. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.
International Solidarity Movement (29 July, 2008) Ten year old shot In Ni’lin http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2008/07/29/10-year-old-shot-dead-at-nilin/
 Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Statistics relation to the Al Aqsa Intifada http://www.pchrgaza.org/alaqsaintifada.html