It was in the hours of early afternoon, another weekly Friday demo in Nabi Saleh drawing to a close as Israeli soldiers begin to retreat from the hill which stretches from the upper levels of the village to the heavily guarded Al Kaws spring which was violently overtaken by neighboring Halamish settlers exactly 2 years ago.
In the distance we saw a huge armored caterpillar tractor speeding its way inside the village accompanied by 2 armored jeeps. Everyone knew what this meant. It meant carrying out the destruction orders put upon several houses in the village as punishment for their residents participating or organizing the weekly Friday demos. We rush towards the road to try & face the tractor while its operator is busy plowing into some rocks on the side of the village’s road, as we get closer to the tractor we are overwhelmed by a rain of teargas which covered the road completely in an unbearably painful choking fog, even a tiny whiff of which renders one blind, with irritating skin & unable to breath minutes after it passes. The brave & brazen youth of the village begin barraging the armored tractor with rocks from a hill next to the road as soldiers poking their steel marble bullet rifles & aluminum teargas canister launchers flinging bullets & canisters which whistle centimeters by the protestor’s ears, breaking the limbs of some.
As the gas gets overwhelming the youth descend onto the road, at which point, the tractor & armored jeeps are making their slow exit out of the village & towards the army checkpoint located just outside the village homes at the eastern extremes of the village. The smothering fog begins to clear as I hear disturbing screams coming from further down the road. The screams get louder, the last remnant of the poisoned smoke clears the view & I see Loay Tamimi screaming, jumping up & down with a madcap look on his face, not a few meters from him I see a body of a man laying on the road next to the makeshift checkpoint made out of roadside rocks which the village youth use to try and block their village out of reach from marauding IDF armored jeeps, skunk water trucks, teargas cannon mounted trucks, deafening “Scream” jeeps & massive armored trucks which are used to carry armed units in and cuffed, blindfolded & humiliated villagers out.
It is far from unusual to witness a protestor passed out cold on the ground, it is most commonly caused by asphyxiation on the highly potent teargas used by Israeli soldiers to disperse any and all demonstration taking place in the West Bank which are not organized & filed with Jewish settlers. As I try to catch my breath I notice Zi’ad, Loay’s brother is weeping hysterically, the screams get louder I took off running as fast as I could I hear screams of “His face is gone!”, frightened male & female crying resounding in unison as if made by a ghost which descended on this stretch of road to immolate any vibrating strain of nerve it was sensing in my paralyzed knees which just kept on gliding me forward without any sensation whatsoever by that point.
As I get there I see Zi’ad kneeling next to the unconscious man, his whole body shaking, his eyes flooded blood red, attempting to clean the man’s head with his Kaffiya holding it like a mother cleaning a baby after a bath, that’s when it hit me: “Oh no, it is one of Abd AlRazek sons..” as I rush to the body I looked in the face of a dead man.
“Oh My god.. it is Abd Alrazek’s eldest son who is engaged to be married soon!”
I am sitting on Abd Alrazek porch with Abd’s two sons & solidarity activists, its completely dark outside at the edge of this typically hot Palestinian autumn day after a long & hectic peaceful demonstration which was met with a typical out of proportion violent response by the IDF which, at one point, calmly apprehended two of Abd’s sons Ziad & Mustafa from a street corner, later taken them to an army checkpoint & cruelly beaten with the blunt edges of their weapons. Ziad was there on the porch with us that late evening but Mustafa was not. I told Abd about the time Zi’ad virtually saved my life during one of my first demos in the village I almost passed out scaling the hills around the town with the IDF on our tail, I could have easily fallen off the if it wasn’t for Zi’ad’s constant pulling my ass up another stretch above sea level. After serving us watermelon appetizer for the meal to come shortly I began buggering Abd about his 2nd son which was not present. With a calm manner he confessed his oldest son was visiting with his bride to be & he was unlucky to be released with his brother & that he is most likely on his way to the dreaded Ofer military prison then proceeded to regale a bunch of gawkish, mouth breathing Israelis (us) about his own shocking experiences under Israeli military captivity while his wife & sons piled more food on the plastic table.
Abd Alrazek AlTamimi, father of 7, is a dialysis patient who has been looking for a kidney donor for many years. As of late his situation has began to deteriorate rapidly at which point he could no longer physically participate in the villages weekly peaceful demos to protest the occupation and increasing encroachment on the villages land by settlers of the adjacent settlement of Halamish. Abd Alrazek owns two ford West-Bank taxies \amd is a taxi driver for a living, but since the stark deterioration in his condition he spends most days hooked up to an old dialysis machine which was installed in his home and leaves him barely able to stand & even sit for long periods of time. Due to his condition all family income duties have been unloaded upon his 2nd eldest son Ziad with the help of Abd’s own brother to taxi the fords up & down the West Bank.
As with such blessed burden which a 23 year old finds himself under comes an unexpected benefit. If Ziad goes to Ofer the family loose their lose source of income & Ziad was spared for that day.
Uday, Abd’s 20 year old son & one of two twins has been sitting captive in Israeli military prison for 8 months for taking part in the weekly demos in the village, few months ago it has been revealed that Uday has been transferred to hospital for a broken jaw after being beaten by the blood thirsty beasts who man Israel’s special prisons for West Bank and Gaza Palestinians since the time Abd himself was captive in them.
Uday is set to be released within the next week.
The Fortunate Son
As a crowed was gathering around the Mustafa I was unable to figure out my place in this scenery. Politically active, highly stubborn, independent “know it all” drained of all meaning & purpose. I am surrounded by Mustafa’s brothers, a few of his friend & his sister, all of whom were in a state though as if the world was melting all around them. I’m the one who received the privilege to be in the company of these iconic men & women in this historic period of a struggle which has the entire world on its tipping scales. The sole reason for that is absolutely NOT a vehicle to wash off my guilty settler conscious! I was entrusted with a blessed burden. The burden which helps me sustain my self worth & my very existence as a loyal comrade of the oppressed. To prove that is not an easy task, I am filled with a purpose to be an accessory in the most important revolutionary struggle in the region where I reside and I attempt to contrast my biological based standing as a privileged being of the colonial-settler caste under the Zionist entity which I loath with all the blood that is coursing behind my eyes for making me, the son of a Russian “Aliya” migrant single mother, the spazzy tourrettes kid who was cursed & beaten every day in Israeli school & despised by Israeli teachers for being a hyperactive, jokish, spazzy “foreigner”.
I could not bare to stand a politicization & realize that according to all the social maths I am a colonial privileged member of this human pile they like to call “Israel”.
I began a labor which continues to this very day, that labor was critically wounded as I looked into Mustafa Tamimi’s eyes right there on that stretch of road on which he fell.
Voices began emerging as if out of a bottomless canyon, a ford taxi was pulling next to us & I couldn’t make any sense of the voices urging me to quickly pull Mustafa, with a deep gaping hole on the half of his face, into the taxi.. to my eternal shame I snapped a picture as another shabab quickly took my place and lifted Mustafa to the taxi driven by Mustafa’s uncle urging it to go to “Tel Aviv!!” where such mortal injury had a chance to be treated successfully unlike the provocatively understaffed & undersupplied Ramallah hospital.
This moment lasted hours in my head. I replayed & replayed it hundreds of times in a matter of minutes, as I was wondering aimlessly throughout the screams and panic I saw a friend of mine, completely loosing it with a number of people trying to get that big rock man under control. He has just come back from the hospital right back into the chaos. He was shot earlier on his head with a plastic covered steel marble bullet, being a Palestinian and one who never backs down in the face of an army he gets injured shockingly often with an injury more gruesome and bloody than the last one. All he does is smile as the Israelis in uniforms pellet him with everything they’ve got. This is a very common sight in the demos in Nabi Saleh! These are the people that fill the ranks of every important peaceful demonstration in the West Bank, no matter how shamefully small! shockingly many of whom are of the same little village of 500, the mass of a villager with a common name: Tamimi, and I was the worthless little worm standing next to these assembly of giants mourning over a fallen fellow giant.
At which point i wanted to bury myself, I wanted to hurt.. I have been pouncing around the aluminum teargas canisters, sound bombs & plastic covered marble steel bullets in front of the soldiers for 4 hours while ppl I officially count as my comrades but in reality consider to be my betters, were falling left and right with bleeding ears, broken arms & ankles, I was the fortunate one! I don’t get just as emotionally involved as a native Palestinian would to risk his flesh to defend the honor of his homeland and I appear “international” or “Israeli” and the army has a proven policy in effect to harm ONLY Palestinian Arabs. This is well known and the main reason why Palestinians under violent occupation would think to invite us Israelis into their hallowed turf of martyrs.
I couldn’t even consult the grieving friends & family of the fallen giant as I don’t share a common language with most of them. That’s when the blood streamed back in my veins reaching my knees and I began to march forward in the chaos, with absolutely no destination at all. The Israeli Army, universally unbeaten in shameless displays of power in the face of their defenseless victims, set up a number of “mobile checkpoints”, files up with soldiers, at the site of their gruesome crime.
The soldier screamed “Stop! I told you to STOP!” I walked on determined to face in the direction of the jeeps that shot Mustafa without any plan in my head or a reason. A commander walked up to me, grabbed me by the collar & repeated “go back or I will have to arrest you” at this moment, tearing up, I exploded with a barrage of insults aimed at the unhuman scum facing me: “you will not tell me where to stand or go! You S.O.B you scum of the earth, murderer! You’ve murdered someone today! You piece of shit you!!” at which point he ordered one of the soldiers to cuff me as I tried to walk on, I kept screaming “how do you feel? you criminal murderer? You murdered a human being! You feel proud?” his response: “Yes ,I feel very proud of that!” after that I turned mute. Standing handcuffed the soldier ordered me to come along with him, I refused, he then pushed me ever so slightly forward, repeatedly, as I kept stopping he grabbed my coat & continued pulling me to the villages army checkpoint.
“Sit Down here!”.. “What are you DEAF?? SIT DOWN HERE!!!”..”YOU DON’T WANT TO ANGER ME, SIT DOWN!!” as I stood motionless staring aimlessly at the cloudy skies trying to wrestle the pain down the soldier noticed a number of press cameras pointed to my direction, he pulled me behind the large prisoners jeep & again ordered me to sit down..
Afraid to risk an “international incident” he just let me stand.. I rly wanted him to beat me right there.. I wanted it soo bad.. my insides were rotting with shock & grief I wanted to anger them to beat me right then and there! As I was “escorted” inside the mini barracks of the checkpoint I was getting unbelievably cold, but I didn’t utter a word to the guarding soldiers.. I was shivering and they felt cocky asking me in English “what what you do here? Why you come photograph Arabs.. Stinking Arabs?” as I stayed mute they commented in Hebrew “this one looks touched in the head”, “yeah this ones got crazy written all over him”, “an Arab gets shot in the eye & all hell breaks loose…” returning to English: “its good you know, its good that we shoot stinking Arab in the eye” resuming to Hebrew: “I just want to kick him in the head so bad bro.. so bad” I wished it! coming out of there with a big bruise, I deserve it! Fucking useless idiot!
The wind blew stronger through the mini barracks pores & I was beginning to shiver more intensely & felt dead inside until I heard the villagers banging away at the metal checkpoint gate just outside, it made me feel warm, a warmth I did not deserve.
As I arrived late at the hospital where Mustafa was moved to after being cut free I was told of police violently denying the few relatives who’ve received permits to see Mustafa at the hospital from entering the premises. Mustafa’s sick father and any of his brothers and sister were denied permits to leave the west bank at all to see their mortally wounded brother & son. Mustafa’s mother, his uncle who drove the taxi & his son were all who were given permits. The family were subsequently allowed to enter the premises of the hospital out of that famed goodness of the Jewish heart presented by the hospital security administration. After making our way in under false pretences due to hearing that a number of solidarity activists were violently kicked out of the premises for “crowding” Me and my friend found the other solidarity activists who’ve made it in via similarly deceptive means. Bits of Information about Mustafa’s condition were sent to us via the family members who sat outside emergency room where we were all afraid to ascend to for fear of sparking another row with security guards who will not hesitate to violently remove Mustafa’s mother from the premises. We sat patiently as unbelievable news began reaching us.. “his eye is intact!” “he is in recovery, they’re going to clean the blood and try to save the eye!” It seemed totally fantastical compared to the scenes of Mustafa burned into my mind. But I believed every word that came out of that hospital staff.. it seemed so incredible I kept flashing images of Mustafa with a huge facial scar, sitting on his father’s porch smoking nargilla, feeling of guilt & worthlessness slowly ebbed to the back of my mind where they stay vigilant at all times until they are desperately needed or decide to invite themselves without warning.
The Last Time I Saw Mustafa’s Mom before Writing This
Surrounded by activists & supporters sat Umm Mustafa with a blank stare which seemed as the bravest blankness I’ve ever seen! I was taken aback and began to calculate what to say.. and if I can say that?.. will she understand me? do we even have a common language? I chickened out..
As the activists were leaving I saw Umm Mustafa walk away into the darkness of the emergency ward, sat down on the floor and began weeping quietly. It was unbelievable… all this, all this brave face and attention she gave to the supporters and activists it was all just a face.. I drove the 2 hours home with my friend in total silence and went to sleep thinking sweet thoughts of bandaged Mustafa, sitting on his dad’s porch smoking nargilla safe in the knowledge that Uday is playing football in the town’s field.
Rest in peace
My dear better Mustafa