Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shot at Point of Desperation

Moments of Gaza

Ahmed Abu Hashish, 20 years old bedouin, is his parents' youngest child out of three other young men. He worked in a laundry shop, and lived in utter poverty with his mother, father and three elder brothers.

We went to the funeral and his mother, Umm Ayyash, had a few things to say.
Ahmed, as usual, came back home from work at around four o'clock on the 21st of April, 2009. He left home without telling his mother anything about his whereabouts, and did not return. Umm Ayyash fixed his mattress and pillow, and it was around 11 in the evening with no word from Ahmed. After two days of searching the neighborhoods, and checking with friends and relatives with no word from Ahmed, Abou Ayyash went to the Beit Hanoun police station to report his youngest son missing. The family also went to the Red Cross to ask if Ahmed had been abducted and imprisoned by the Israelis. The Red Cross checked with the prison administrators, but no word of Ahmed. The local police found nothing within the Strip about him.

His family supposed that he had tried to cross the fence to get into the 1948 lands to find work and try to surpass their daily income of around 8 shekels, which is around 2 USD. He had spoken previously about his want to find better job oppurtunities and, thus, a better life style. Previously, Palestinians in Gaza used to work in the 1948 lands before the second Initifada, definitely under cheap labor, with discrimination against them being Arabs, and under harsh working conditions. Yet, to many, despite these discriminatory and slavish circumstances, it provided meals on the table with the lack of job oppurtunities in the occupied Strip.

"The day he went missing, neighbors and friends said that there was much shooting near the fence," She stopped to wipe her tears and shake hands with people leaving the funeral. "It was 53 days before sheperds near that area said there was a foul odour near the fence and crows were gathering in the area." She lowers her head, " thank God you found his body, at least we know what happened to him... they killed him, like they kill everything else."

The Red Cross refused to get to the area at the fence, knowing that it is much less than 300 metres. Yet, the Red Cross has previously cooridinated with the IOF in such cases and to get bodies- despite being shot at. The Red Cross paramedics were afraid to get to the fence to search for the body, for fear of being killed or injured as the IOF usually does that despite previous coordination.

It was the volunteers at the Local Beit Hanoun Initiative along with members of ISM Gaza with some relatives of Ahmed who went up to the fence.

If you watch the video below, which was taken by an ISM Gaza, you will notice that despite the soldiers knowing that we are UNARMED CIVILIANS and "searching for a body," they shot at us directly and close, particularly once the body was found. They went out of their jeeps and hummers, thus, knowing that we pose not threat to them, shooting was whimsical. They shoot according to their moods and whims.

"They [Israelis] knew that they shot an unarmed boy. They knew they killed him. They said no word of it!" said Umm Ayyash as she strongly takes a stand. She wipes her tears and looks me in the eye, "they are criminals. They kill children, women and civilians... They killed a pious boy, a respectable person, my little Ahmed. They shot him, he's dead."

We left the funeral hugging Umm Ayyash and holding her hands tight in ours. Her fist was strong, her face was clear, her eyes were wide open. "God will keep you sturdy," Keep strong" her friends, neighbors and relatives told her heartily. She showed no fear as she kept repeating, "they will be judged, they will be judged."

Natalie Abou Shakra