I returned back from London longing to get back with my comrades on the front lines. I have been blaming them all for having too much action without me the past 2 month. The emotions, laughs, tears, anger, and pride I survived in my first week back home was more than I imagined.
First Friday back home I head to Nabi Saleh. A town resisting occupation on daily basis. I went there longing to meet all my friends, sorry not friends, all my family who we shared together weeks of injuries and arrests. Just to go back home at night and start planning for the next Friday.
This Friday in Nabi Saleh started the same way it did for the past 2 years. It was actually the second anniversary of the beginning of the recent wave of popular resistance in Nabi Saleh. It was also the 24th anniversary of the first Intifada (Uprising). In the past 2 years, 13% of the residents of Nabi Saleh were arrested. More than 30% of the residents were injured. The children of Nabi Saleh do not play Counter Strike on their computers like your children. They live the real thing.
Nabi Saleh under Attack – as usual
The “Scream” weapon was waiting for us. They want to make us deaf. The whole world is deaf, what is the difference? Then very shortly toxic gas everywhere. The gas was unbearable. It was shot in big amounts. But by now we are used to it. But make no mistake, the Israeli Occupation Forces uses the gas canisters like someone using the toothpick to poke someone’s eye. The gas canisters were shot directly on the level of our bodies. They are used rather as big aluminum bullets. But I guess again, for weeks now, we got used to jumping around it. But this week was different.
Three UN cars entered the town to go hide in a house far away from where the attacks where happening. They were here to monitor. I am still trying to figure out how does the monitoring process works. We were on the mountain overlooking the stolen spring before we heard the loud shouts, “The Bulldozer! the Bulldozer!“. I.O.F. were invading the town with an armored bulldozers and three armored jeeps. We ran back to the street to stop the bulldozer. All we have to face the army are our open chests and stones. And soon enough the bulldozer was turning around to its base. The stones of Nabi Saleh were much more stronger than the U.S.-sponsored armors. But the day was far from an end.
A Man Down
“Ambulance, Ambulance!” The screams I heard as I saw a man wearing a white shirt falling down meters in front of me. I ran towards him. I knew it was serious. Those brave men never call ambulances even when they’re bleeding. I could not recognize the man. His face was covered with blood. His eyes looked like a blood fountain. I tried to put my Kuffiyeh and Palestinian flag lightly on the source of the wound to stop the bleeding. In seconds he has already lost a lot of blood. “Ambulance! Ambulance!” I was screaming this time.
The young man was lying still on the floor barely breathing. No ambulance was there. We tried to stop a passing-by car to take rush him to a hospital. An orange ford (mini-bus) stopped. As I was taking my hands of him to give a way to the guys to carry him to the vehicle, he took his last breath. He gasped a last deep breath. It was not an option. He had to survive. He was carried to the ford and I walked away. Where? I do not know. I was just walking up the street.
When I reached Abu Hussam’s house, the UN delegation where standing at the door. Abu Hussam and others have already heard someone was injured. I was holding my Kuffiyeh and Flag. I told everyone what happened. “I did not recognize him his face was full of blood,” I said. “I think he is 28 years old, that is what I heard.”
“I do not think he will survive,” I whispered reluctantly.
“It is Mustafa!” someone said. And memories rushed through my head. I saw the rainy days of spring when we used to climb mountains and hills to avoid the IOF checkpoints blocking entrance to the town. I saw the day I finally managed to reach the town after an hour of hiking through the mountains. I was limping. I was not injured, but my shoes were torn. I head to Mustafa’s house where I took a nap on mattress near him. I had my tea and cigarette. Mustafa got me his shoes to wear. He refused to take them back at the end of the day.
Mustafa was a gentle brave man. His smile greets activists as soon as they reach the town. He was not much of a football player though. He used to miss easy shots when we played football waiting for noon to start our protests. Hours of memories rushed in seconds.
I walked back down to the street. Tears and screams were all around. For the first time, they were not tears from soldiers gas. The soldiers have kidnapped Mustafa’s body. They are giving him medical assistance, they say. My friend and popular resistance comrade was shouting at the smiling soldiers. She was in tears. I cannot remember when did I see her that way. She is a strong brave woman. I have seen her angry. Just not in tears. I pulled her away and took her up to Bilal’s house. “They did not let his sister see him,” she said with tears drowning her eyes. “They were pushing her around smiling and gloating. They cannot be human.”
Waiting for the News
Four people from Nabi Saleh got permits to go to a hospital near Spring Hill “Tel Aviv“. We drove to the hospital hoping for the best. I was living in denial. I saw him gasping his last breath. I have seen it in movies before, never in person. I could be mistaken. I am not a doctor after all. Dozen of Jewish activist who carry Israeli citizen ships, four family friends, I and my friend were waiting for news. We waited for hours to get to see a doctor who can update us on Mustafa. We received a call saying that Israel Radio announced Mustafa’s death. But suddenly the news just disappeared off the media.
After hours of waiting, a doctor finally agreed to meet us. He claimed that they were going to operate on Mustafa in few minutes. He detailed us on his situation. His talk was assuring. Some of us left. Few activists from Tel Aviv stayed with the family. Or was it just a show pulled together to make us leave? It is just a human nature, wanting to believe the good news no matter how unreal they seem. I soaked my Kuffiyeh and flag in water. Mustafa will live after all. Or that is what I wanted to believe. At 11pm I received some disturbing news from a friend. They did not operate on Mustafa. They will operate in the morning. I slept, still in denial. I told myself, he cannot die, he will live. And I slept.
In the morning, I switched on my laptop before I open my eyes. First tweet on my twitter wall, “It was confirmed now, Martyr Mustafa Tamimi died.” I was sitting on my bed for an hour, follwing tweets, hoping I can read, “Correction: Mustafa is alive, his operation succeeded.” But that was not going to happen. They did not operate on him at the first place. They took his body just to postpone his death till the morning. They wanted to suck the tension out. They wanted to add a line to the news, “and we treated him in our hospitals.” But a beast is a beast even if it was wearing a mask.
The pain of it was unbearable. He is the first martyr in Nabi Saleh since the beginning of the popular resistance two years ago. We could have turned the pain of his loss into determination. But the society Fayyad and Abbas created in Ramallah just made the pain worse. A hero gave his life defending, not only his town, but also the honor of all the Palestinians. Only few participated in the mourning of Mustafa in Ramallah. A lot more were standing by mocking the women screaming their voices off mourning their loss. What have changed? Thousands used to march the streets, all shops used to close when a martyr falls for the freedom of Palestine. What have changed?
I saw the Israeli activists in tear. They felt like they lost one of them. He is one of them. Them who resist apartheid and occupation day after day. They bled together. They got shot together. They got arrested together. This is the co-resistance. Those Israeli and International activists were more sincere in their tears than those sitting on their red sofas in Ramallah. Wait, I do not think the latter have teared. I do not think they cared even. They are too busy selling us out.
On Sunday, driving to Nabi Saleh for the burial, IOF enforcement were every where. Soldiers were loading the gas canister launcher over one of the jeeps. I imagined them saying, “no one cares, we can gas you day and night, and all what you can get is ink on paper.” They were right. They did attack us with gas after all. But gas was not enough for them. They also skunked the village.
They beat the women. Not because I think IOF beating a woman is any different than beating a man. But because only the women had the courage to face the soldiers. Almost. As usual. A tough days, with several injuries and arrests, and we are back home. Just to continue the cycle of resistance.
We are back next week. We will keep going. The soldier who murdered Mustafa will not be punished. He will probably get promoted as usual. But we will keep going. The PA tried to turn the funeral into speeches festival. They stand against us. They stand against everyone that resists. But we will keep going. Today it is Mustafa. Tomorrow it is one of us. But we will keep going. And freedom will prevail.
(My friend Mustafa. I hope you can hear me. My eyes are drowning in tears as I write this. Tears of shame. The shame that it was you not me. But I promise you this, I will not stop until Palestine, ALL Palestine, is Free. Or on the day I join you in heaven.)