The first time I consciously became aware of pain was almost 10 years ago when my uncle passed away after a long battle with lung cancer. I was in the sixth grade, and we were at my grandmother’s when she delivered the news of his death to my twin brother and I. I didn’t cry, I tried to because it felt like the normal reaction to have when someone dies but I couldn’t cry. Even at his funeral, not one tear fell down my cheeks. It took me almost 40 days to actually realize what has happened.
I was always thinking about him, I still do. But one day I reached a point where thinking about him wasn’t enough, I needed his physical presence as well and I couldn’t find him physically that’s when it started. When I realized that he’s actually gone, for real, and that I couldn’t even see him, even visit him while laying sick in bed, that was when tears started falling and I couldn’t stop. I locked myself in the bathroom, and tried to not make a sound. My mother was missing him way too much too; he was the closest to her of her brothers at the time, hence I couldn’t let her see me crying over him. So I cried my heart out silently. I just sat there on the bathroom floor crying.
Then I started feeling pain, not just the emotional one but physical pain. My stomach started twisting inside and felt like my guts were trying to come out but since they couldn’t they were punishing me from the inside. It was like there were a hundred drills in my stomach making holes inside of me in an attempt to come out. And I started shivering compulsively and that made the pain ten times worse. I was holding my fingers in a fist position not able to open my hand or move, and my nails were sinking into my palms. My head was like a punching bag, and I felt like it was getting punched from every direction there was. My bones felt like I had hundreds of nails inside of them and started stinging as if I was drowning in freezing cold water. I couldn’t breathe, I thought my lungs have stopped working and I started punching my chest with my fist hoping it would make me able to breathe normally again. It was unbearable.
Then I threw up. It felt like throwing up knives. I don’t know how long it took me to stop vomiting but when it finally stopped I was surprised to look down and see I still have a stomach. I thought it too came out with whatever was coming out of my mouth. I was completely drained out. Physically, emotionally … and I just wanted him to come back and stop this, yet I knew he’d never come back. That was the first time I could “picture” what pain looked like. It looked like that day with me crying in the bathroom. Now I could label “pain”. It was that day when I didn’t only feel pain but I also tasted it and finally became familiar with it. I could recognize it. Ever since that day, I felt this way a few times and yesterday was one of them.
Yesterday was an extremely joyous day for me. My friends and I went back to our university – since we’ve graduated last July- to see our friends and professors and simply hang out. Then I finally got to meet Suad Amiry at her “Golda Slept Here” book-launch event in Ramallah with my friends and even got an autographed copy by her. She was so happy to see us, this young, at her event. We felt proud that she was proud to have us. It was perfect.
Then I came back home all happy and excited only to feel disgusted that I felt this happy while a young man, as old as I am, was shot dead in cold blood by Israeli police in Nazareth. I was sitting with my family discussing the topic of Suad’s book when I picked up my ipad to see what’s up on facebook. The first post I saw was someone who shared a video that said, “The video of how police shot Khair Hamdan dead in cold blood”. I did not want to see it. In these past couple of months too many people were caught on camera getting shot at and killed. Nadeem Nuwarra, Muhammed Dhaher, Salem Shamaly, and now Kahir Din Hamdan. I did not think I would be able to handle it, and I was right.
I ended up pressing the play button anyway.
I couldn’t understand what I was seeing, so I played it again and again and again and again. Every time I would pause the video right before they shoot him, that moment when the police men come out of the vehicle and Kahir tries to run away, hoping and praying that maybe this time the outcome could be different. That he would run away, but every single time it would end the same, with Kahir rolling and twisting on the ground in pain after getting shot by the police from extremely close range.
Then as remotely as could be I logged off my facebook, took my cup of the tea my father has just made, grabbed my newly purchased Suad’s books and went to my room and locked it. I still haven’t completely grasped what I just saw. So I went back to facebook, looked for the video, and watched it again and again and again. It still hasn’t made any sense.
This scenario could have ended in so many different ways, they could have shot him in the leg, they could have chased him, hit him, and locked him up, or he could have simply run away. But no. Instead he was shot 6 times in the back and chest, and I lost it. It felt like I was sitting on that bathroom floor again and I started crying silently like crazy, then the physical pain started, then it ended with throwing up.
I haven’t cried about anything that’s been happening lately. Not when Enas was run over by an Israeli settler. Not when an Israeli baby was run over by a Palestinian, not when Mu’taz has shot the Israeli Rabbi Yehuda Glick and then got assassinated himself the next morning by Israeli Special Forces putting over 20 bullets in his body. Not when Ibrahim ran over Israeli settlers waiting at the train station and then got out of the car and hit them with a metal bar. Not even when he was also shot dead. I’ve decided for a while now to put a distance between myself and life under occupation; ‘cause I have a future to build. I have tons of payments to fulfill, many scholarships to apply to, assist with the house’s responsibilities with my parents, take the TOEFL exam, get my driver’s license … I can’t keep putting my life on hold every time something happens. I can’t just put everything on hold every time another kid is shot, or another little girl is run over by settlers, or when another fed-up Palestinian responds in the same way as settler and go run some Israelis over. I just can’t.
But turns out, I don’t have much of a choice.
It’s also my responsibility that they are dead right now. Because I was selfish enough to think I had a right to have a bright future while they couldn’t. Because I, you, and all of us stood by and did nothing as all of this has happened. Or so I thought at first, that it was primarily our faults. We just stood by and did nothing, but technically these helpless Palestinian men and youth were pushed into this ruthless path.
This last September there were 14 cases of hit-and-run by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, that’s 14 cases in one month alone! Since 2011 over 33 cases of Israeli settlers running over Palestinians occurred. Nobody took notice. Nobody talked about security, safety, human rights or whatever it is that’s supposed to protect humans. Then a Palestinian does the same as the Israeli settlers have been doing for years now, and suddenly security is threatened, the sanctity of life is violated, and safety and survival measures need to be taken where there were orders by Netanyahu to “eliminate any source of threat any Palestinian may pose”. In other words, kill every Palestinian you think in the future might do anything or if he\she looks suspicious, and that’s exactly what happened with Khair.
There was an arrest raid by Israeli police over Khair’s village, Kufor Kanna, and of course the Israeli police could never ever have a “nice peaceful” arrest. It always has to be accompanied with bullets and tear gas canisters, and with everything that’s been going on lately in Jerusalem and the West Bank, the tension level was tripled. That’s when Khair went after the police car after passing by their house trying to harm them by hitting the car’s windows. Then the police men came out of the car and when he tried to escape they immediately put six bullets in his back and chest, then dragged him instead of carefully carrying him to the car and threw him in it.
And to think that Khair was as old as I am. He probably had similar aspirations and dreams. From the video he also seems as reckless as I am. Yet he's dead right now, and here I am talking about him.
The Israeli police lied bluntly about this. You can read thoroughly about their lying schemes in this article, yet their lies are not the problem here, we’re kind of used to it. The problem is this entire system that makes it okay to be racist, makes it okay to become a murderer, and makes it okay to punish people collectively. When you can kill Palestinians and simply get away with it, where you can make the lives of Palestinians a living hell and get away with it.
Thirty-three officially documented cases of hit-and-run by Israelis against Palestinians from 2011 till now alone. Constantly denying Palestinians their right to enter al-Aqsa mosque while allowing Jews to, even though Muslims are not allowed – for instance- to go to the “Wailing Wall” and pray. To try and make what’s happening at al-Aqsa Mosque clearer, it’s like not allowing Jews to go pray at the Wailing Wall, and instead let only Muslims go. I bet you that wouldn’t end peacefully. In addition to taking over hundreds of Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem, while ordering several other hundreds to get demolished. That also adds up to the constant harassment and humiliation Palestinians go through due to the different mood swings Israeli soldiers tend to have.
Yet we’re not supposed to have any kind of reaction, and when we do, this is the result that we get; collective punishment and murder. Mu’taz Hijazi who shot the Israeli Rabbi Yehuda Glick, was assassinated the next morning brutally on the roof of his house, and afterwards his parents were dragged for investigation and then let out with an order to demolish their house as a punishment for what their son has done. The same goes for the parents and family of Ibrahim Akari who ran over Israeli settlers in Jerusalem, and the same goes for every Palestinian who’s ever done anything to vandalize the security of Israel. They get killed by Israeli police or soldiers with no chance of ever even getting to trial, their family members get dragged to prison and their houses must be demolished.
While on the other hand, none of the Israeli settlers that ran over Palestinians were ever taken to trial and their murders were considered as “traffic accidents”. This past October, Enas – 5 years old – was run over by an Israeli settler while she was cutting the street to get to her mother. She was killed right in front of her mother and the settler who ran her over is probably sitting on the dining table with his own family and his own daughter enjoying their time, he wasn’t even persecuted. No trial, no arrests, no prison, and no demolished house.
And at the end of the day, Mu’taz, Khair, Ibrahim … were labelled with many titles and accusations. Some Palestinians here named them heroes, Israelis named them heartless terrorists, while in reality they were simply victims of a heartless, cruel, and gruesome occupation.
As Nietzsche would put it; they were “conclusions”.
Kahir Din Hamdan was sitting with his father when the police car passed by and he ran in anger of their arbitrary arrests against his neighbors after them. Ibrahim Akari has two beautiful boys and a gorgeous wife waiting for him back home. Mu’taz has only recently been released of Israeli prisons and he had his entire life ahead of him. He even, according to witnesses, apologized to the Israeli Rabbi Yehuda Glick before shooting telling him, “ I’m sorry but I have to.”
He had to. He had to shoot him. Imagine reaching this point where you would have to do something this cruel; where you would leave behind a future that is yet to come, beautiful kids and wife, and a father. They didn’t want to, they had to.
They were the conclusions of this inhumane occupation that’s been crushing our souls way before crushing our bodies.
So no. It’s not entirely my responsibility. Yes part of the blame is on me and those who sometimes get defeated and think of having a normal life while others aren’t. But the primary reason, the cause, is the Israeli Occupation. And if this racism, violence, and policies of collective punishments don’t stop, the results will only be more and more violence.
My pain might have ended eventually, the physical pain at least, but Khair’s family hasn’t and till it does and till those who murdered him and every other Palestinian in cold blood are brought to justice, the pains of Israelis won’t be over as well.
So they better take some responsibility for the murders that have been happening or else this cycle of fear they are living in will never end. Jews might have been victims for a very long time, but those living in Israel right now who are naming us terrorists and savages, pretending to have nothing to do with it are accomplices in crime; they’re murderers as well.
It’s time Israelis understood this clearly, they won’t live in peace until we do.
The video of Khair Din's murder:
The video of Salem Shamaly's murder:
The video of Nadim Nuwarra and Muhammed Dhaher's murder:
"The five-year old Enas that was run over by an Israeli settler."
"Picture of kids in East Jerusalem getting run-over by an Israeli."