Muslim in Suffer

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“Tell me who the real terrorist is?” – premisses of martyrdom

Posted by musliminsuffer on April 3, 2009

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

=== News Update ===

“Tell me who the real terrorist is?” – premisses of martyrdom

Palestine Monitor

Abu Mahmoud Harb is a father of 9 boys and 4 girls living since 1967 in Balata refugee camp, close to Nablus in the West Bank. He is around 75 years old and has seen everything that happened in the recent Palestinian history, from the Nakba in 1948 to the Gaza attack and massacre in December 2008 and January 2009. His own story, and the one of his family, perfectly illustrates the life and the suffering of the Palestinian refugees in the West Bank.

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Abu Mahmoud holding the key of his own house before the Nakba. For Palestinians, keys are the symbol of the Nakba, “the catastrophe” and a hope for return
Picture: Palestine Monitor

Abu Mahmoud was born in the village of Miska, near Tulkarem. Before 1948 there already was a neighborhood of Palestinian Jews near Miska, and the relationship between them and the Muslims was very good and humble. They knew each other and worked and lived together peacefully and respectfully. They were all Palestinians, no matter what their religion.

The problems started with the arrival of the new Jewish people coming from Europe after the Second World War. They were much more radical and aggressive towards the Muslims. Like many other Palestinian villages and towns, Miska was completely destroyed during the Nakba in 1948 and the few surviving villagers had to flee, abandoning almost everything behind them. Abu Mahmoud is still in possession of the almost 70 year old original key of his home.

Talking about this reminded Abu Mahmoud of an old story that happened 20 years ago, before the beginning of the first intifada, when he went in what today is Israel to the place where his old village used to be. There he noticed a very old person who was looking at him in a strange way. “Who are you and what are you doing here” asked the old man. “I was born here, this used to be the land of my family and I’m standing right at the place where my old home used to be” answered Abu Mahmoud. The old man said that he was one of the Palestinian Jews who were living here already before 1948 and asked for the name of Abu Mahmoud’s father. He then said that he knew him very well and even managed to remember, 40 years later, the name of one of his brothers, one of the uncles of Abu Mahmoud.

At that moment both became very emotional and tears began to fill their eyes. The old man said that he perfectly remembered when they all lived together in peace and had their own land and homes. The two drank tea and ate sweets together while talking and being very nostalgic about the good old days.

The old man said that now, even the Palestinian Jews from the area, have had their land taken by the Israeli government to use it for a settlement and that they are suffering from discrimination among the Israeli citizens; they are considered as the worst class of Jews.

Before saying goodbye both men went to the local cemetery and prayed together in the Muslim way. Abu Mahmoud, with tears in his eyes, told me with a shaking voice that he will never forget that moment and that day when he went back to his birthplace.

Because many of his family members were farmers, during the next 2 years following the Nabka they traveled from one place to another in the West Bank looking for farming job opportunities. They successively worked and lived in Tulkarem, Jericho, Salfit and Qalqilya before going back to Jericho where they remained until the second Palestinian exodus in 1967.

Then, after the war, instead of going to Jordan or another country like many other Palestinians, his family preferred to remain on their homeland and went to Balata refugee camp. In Balata he and his father kept going to surrounding villages to find jobs as farmers while also benefiting from the UN aid such as food and other supplies.

Balata Refugee Camp is known for being very political and the heart of the Palestinian resistance, many leaders of both Intifadas came from the camp and in 1987 when people in the Gaza Strip ignited the First Intifada, Balata was the first community in the West Bank to engage in violence. For this reason, the Israeli military has been especially hard on the people of Balata.

Imposing curfews, conducting nightly raids in the camp – in which they break down doors to the houses and destroy things inside, beat people, men and women, arrest, and sometimes kill people for being active in the resistance.

For example, only some weeks ago, during a night raid, several Israeli soldiers came to Abu Mahmoud’s apartment at 2am. The door was locked so they started kicking it while screaming and swearing. It woke him up so he opened the damaged door and immediately had an assault rifle put to his head by a soldier.

“Who are you? Why are you doing this and are you really going to kill me? I’m just an old man living here with my family! And I opened the door, I don’t want any problems so why are you putting a rifle to my face?” He then asked to talk to the officer in charge and the guy pointing the gun at him said that he was the officer in charge.

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Abu Mahmoud’s front door in his house of Balata, destroyed by the Israeli soldiers
Picture: Palestine Monitor

Abu Mahmoud was very surprised, because the person in charge should be someone smart and well educated. He asked him to at least have some respect and treat him as a human. The officer answered that he didn’t deserve to be treated as a human because he is a terrorist and that he teaches his children how to be terrorists.

“Who are the real terrorists here? Who kicked who out of their home and stole their land? Look at how many people that have died on both sides. Look at the weapons used by both sides. Look at all the past massacres and at what just happened in Gaza and tell me who the real terrorist is?”, shouted Abu Mahmoud, who indeed has a lot of things to teach to his children and grand-children: his personal story, the story of the family and of the Palestinian people in general, the fact that they are not living in a city but in a refugee camp, in a place that is their house but not their home…

And even thought it might be one of the reasons why two of his sons are dead, he still thinks he was right to tell all his children the truth about what happened to their family and the Palestinian people since 1948, and keeps, and will keep, telling it to his grand-children.

One of his sons was a suicide bomber and even thought Abu Mahmoud knows that killing innocent people is a bad thing he believes that the main reason why it happened is the Israeli occupation and the behavior of the Israeli soldiers in the refugee camp. Without that it would not have happened, so he says that if you don’t want the consequences you have to fix the cause.

It is not easy to live in a house that is not your home, without any privacy because you are living with a big family in a small space and because of the proximity of the neighbors. It is very hard not to become frustrated and angry with the frequent night raids and the destructions of your belongings, the beatings, the humiliations and the numerous injuries caused by the Israeli soldiers…

For example, one night during a raid an Israeli soldier kicked his mother in her face several times and then crushed her face with his boot while another soldier was holding her on the ground. She was seriously hurt and now has permanent hearing problems.

Another night, while the whole family was taken outside their house by the soldiers, two of them urinated in front of everybody, including the women of the family.

The decisive moment was when his brother, to whom he was very close, died in his arms, killed by the Israeli army during a demonstration in Balata. Not seeing a future for himself and having lost all hope, he became depressed, met the wrong people and finally decided to become a martyr.

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Abu Mahmoud holding the pictures of two of his son. One killed himself in a suicide attack
Picture: Palestine Monitor

Abu Mahmoud’s family owned 150 durums of farming fields and another 150 durums of vineyards in Miska, but he is not asking to receive it all back anymore. He now only wants to get back his fundamentals rights and a piece of his land so that he can finally live a normal life and have a home. If he receives that, and even after everything that has happened, he would be ready to forgive and live together, peacefully and respectfully, with the Israelis. He also believes that most of the Palestinians think likewise.

He remembers the day, years ago, when he saw a car accident on a small and little-frequented road. While somebody else was helping the people of the first car involved in the crash, he stopped and helped the people in the second one, an Israeli family with 3 children. When the police and other people came they were surprised to see an Arab helping Jews. He said that for him it was normal because we are all human beings and have to help each other, no matter our religion or origins.

The problem, according to him, is that the Israeli government doesn’t want peace but just to take as much Palestinian territory as they can before the international community starts taking measures against Israel.

But when is this going to happen? What are the foreign politicians and leaders, including some Arabic ones, waiting for? They have only been talking, without acting, for the last 50 years. How many innocent people, including children and women, still need to die? How many houses still need to be destroyed and how many durums still need to be stolen? Where is the justice and what about the human rights in Palestine?

Abu Mahmoud has noticed that foreigners are usually very surprised and shocked when they come to Palestine and realize what’s really happening here. They weren’t expecting such a bad situation because it’s not what they usually hear on the mainstream news.

The good thing is that when those foreigners go back home, they can talk about what they witnessed and tell the true story. And this is one of the reasons why people from around the world have to keep coming in Palestine. This is also why the Israeli police are so afraid of the foreigners coming here.

To finish, Abu Mahmoud would like to remind everybody in Europe and in the USA that Palestine is a central issue for many Muslims around the globe and that solving it will make the whole world safer and help the fight against terrorism. So if that is what the western countries really want…

:: Article nr. 53107 sent on 03-apr-2009 04:10 ECT



-muslim voice-

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