When blogging, I do my best to stay out of the politics of the situation here as much as I possibly can. Getting on my soap box and preaching politics does nothing but divide people, especially because I am no expert. I try to stick to what I know, which usually means writing about my first hand experiences here. But today, right now, I have to speak out.
I came back from Tel Aviv yesterday feeling so optimistic. Marching alongside Israelis gave me hope. "Things are getting better," I thought, "look at all of these people who are working for human rights." I was there with a group that advocates for the rights of Palestinians, and despite some dirty looks and some heated conversations, I felt like the majority of the people marching would include Palestinians in their list of "all people" who deserve human rights. But today, my optimism so quickly turned to despair as I heard about another Palestinian man who has been killed.
I need to share this story with you. Please realize that this isn't just about one person dying. This isn't just about today's one death. This is about people being senselessly killed for decades. This is about genocide. This is about the deliberate slaughtering of an entire group of human beings. And this is about our collective decision to ignore it, to pretend that one group of people has the right to destroy another, to fund a nation that is killing civilians because we think it is in our political best interest.
Mustafa Tamimi was a 28 year old young man who was protesting the route of the Apartheid Wall. The wall is planned to be built on land that belongs to the people of Nabi Saleh, a small village near Ramallah. He was attending a non-violent demonstration that takes place every Friday, and began throwing stones at an armored Israeli military vehicle (which is done as a symbol, not to injure anyone or destroy any property - as a golf-ball sized stone obviously isn't going to damage the heavily armored jeep in any way). A soldier then opened the door to the jeep, and shot Mustafa in the face with a tear gas canister. The soldier was between ten and thirty feet away.
Just in case you know nothing about tear gas (I didn't, before I came here), a canister is intended to be shot into the air above a violent crowd from about 100 feet away. It is never, NEVER intended to be shot directly at people, because it's known to be deadly, and it is NEVER intended to be used on one person. Its purpose is to sedate an angry mob.
The impact blew off half of Tamimi's face, and when his friends and family cried out in horror, Israeli soliders laughed and said, "So?" (Mondoweiss)
Here is what happened:
|This is Mustafa as he was being shot.|
The red circle to the right is the gun, and the circle to the left is the canister.
|This is immediately after being hit with the canister.|
|Palestinians rushing to his aid.|
|Immediately after being hit.|
|Friends Comforting Each Other|
Here is a video of the aftermath.
Mustafa was rushed to the hospital, and died less than 24 hours later.
The pain of his death will be felt by his family and village for years to come.
The damage done by losing a child, a brother, a friend, will never be erased.
Rest in peace, dear child.
May your life's story be a light in this dark corner of the world.