“Casualties” of the Occupation ~ Stories that Break Your Heart

Tragic and heart breaking ~ so many stories that rarely reach mainstream western media ~ stories often reported here as just another casualty in a long string of casualties. Two EAs from our Bethlehem team recently submitted first-hand details of the following heart breaking story…

Tear Gas ~ Photo Credit" Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Tear Gas ~ Photo Credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

“On Tuesday, November 3, we visited the village of Beit Fajjar where ‘clashes’ had taken place the previous Friday, October 30, about 4:00 PM. [Note: ‘Clashes’ are generally defined as a confrontation between stone throwing youth and heavily armed Israeli soldiers.] The villagers told us that the military had been present in the village prior to the clashes and estimated the number of military personnel to have been around 50. Teargas, sound bombs, ‘rubber’ [-coated steel] bullets, and live ammunition were all witnessed. Six people were injured, two with live ammunition. One person was killed ~ a baby …

“We visited the family of little Ramadan Mohammad Faisal Thawabta, the 8-month old baby boy who had died, in order to offer our condolences and report on the case. We spoke to the women of the family as well as the father and mother of the baby. The grandfather had been present and witnessed the tragic unfolding of events. He told us the following account.”

A Mother's Grief Photo Credit: Reuters

A Mother’s Grief
Photo Credit: Reuters

“On Friday clashes broke out in our village of Bait Fajjar. Much teargas was fired at the main road located less than 100 metres from our family house. A teargas canister was fired near our neighbour’s house, where eight people were inside. A young girl had climbed onto the roof and was shouting for help as the people inside the house were suffocating from the gas. My family rushed out from our house, leaving the front door open, in order to go help our neighbours. We managed to break the neighbours’ door and helped all eight of them to safety. However, when we returned home we found our baby, whom we had left in the house, lifeless, due to the tear gas which had spread from the neighbours’ house into the street and into our house. The baby was taken first to King Husain Hospital in Bethlehem and then to a hospital in Hebron for investigation. The investigation said the cause of the baby’s death was gas.” [Note: On Saturday, the Israeli military authorities denied these claims, saying that no tear gas was fired in the vicinity of the house and that the baby had a prior health condition. But even if the latter is true, this does not mean that tear gas inhalation did not contribute to the baby’s death.]

Israeli Military Issuing Threats in Aida Refugee Camp Photo Credit: Middle East Eye

Israeli Military Issues Death Threats
Aida Refugee Camp ~ Bethlehem
Photo Credit: Middle East Eye

I think it is worth noting that the previous evening, a military jeep rolled down an empty street in Aida refugee camp in nearby Bethlehem at dusk, a place of frequent clashes, broadcasting in Arabic over a loud speaker, “People of Aida refugee camp, we are the occupation army. You throw stones and we will hit you with gas until you all die. The children, the youth, the old people, you will all die. We won’t leave any of you alive. And we have arrested one of you; he is with us now. We took him from his home and we will slaughter and kill him while you are watching if you keep throwing stones. Go home or we will gas you until you die. Your families, your children, everyone, we will kill you…” (See youtube video.)

Tragic stories need to be told ~ Stories that break our hearts ~ Stories that have the potential to move us to action ~ The words of Bob Dylan come to mind…

…Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, how many times can a man [sic] turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?…

…Yes, how many ears must one man [sic] have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?…

The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

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6 Responses to “Casualties” of the Occupation ~ Stories that Break Your Heart

  1. Shelagh says:

    No doubt the events in Paris and Lebanon have exacerbated the problems in Palestine Israel. Little do the Israeli troops realize their behavior reads as terrorizing the Palestinians. They are the terrorists. They continue believing that state legitimated attacks are different.

  2. Margaret says:

    Thinking of you especially this morning, and all those you stand with.
    So much pain and anguish.
    When will we ever learn how to live together?

  3. Annabel Sheppard says:

    So, so sad. Our hearts are heavy.
    Annabel and Don

  4. Virginia Sauve says:

    I feel so helpless to read this and not know what I can do. My Palestinian friends living in Canada have told me many such stories and they ask, when this happens year after year, how can we not lose hope? If Palestinians resort to terrorism in response, who can be surprised? I hope, Dawn, on your return you will help us to explore how we can communicate these stories so that the deaths are not in vain. One family of the great Palestinian diaspora said, those of us who leave do so for our families. Those who stay do so knowing they will likely die at the hands of Israel. This is so so wrong.

  5. Wendy says:

    Thanks, Dawn, for this witness. It articulates so well what I’ve struggled to express this past weekend. There’s little or no context in the media, as always. And in Canada, the fear is that what happened in Paris can happen here or anywhere. When it’s “over there,” it feels much more removed and almost “expected.” How do we explain that we are all human and we all feel pain and grieve? We all love our families and our homelands. We all deserve to live in peace and security. Why is it so easy to understand that for some and not for others? Your blog is helping me to do that, especially the Bob Dylan song quote. Thank you.

  6. BETTY MARLIN says:

    Thanks Dawn,

    How awful this feels, and they call themselves followers of God!! It is indeed heart breaking and hard to believe that people can do this kind of thing without any thought of what they are doing to a people already oppressed and marginalized!!

    Your commitment and courage is amazing, Dawn, to say nothing of your analysis and support of the people of Palestine!! Think of you often and wonder how you are doing. Thoughts and prayers for you and all the people there .


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