Postcards from Palestine
Stories of Permanent Exile and Hopeless Expectation
As an American Christian, recently I acknowledged a sort of coming-out on Israel and Palestine (see: "For Palestinians, an Advent #FAIL"). In this brief Christmas series called Postcards from Palestine, I wanted to give voice to several Palestinians for whom Advent is a no-show.
The following story is taken from the journalist Kenize Mourad's personal encounters with Palestinians in 2002. These stories eventually became the pages of her book Our Sacred Land: Voices of the Palestine-Israeli Conflict (Oneworld Publications; 2004).
The storytellers are teenage Palestinian boys from Al-Bireh in the West Bank.
Pisgot is an Israeli settlement near Al-Bireh.
Until last year we went to play [football] every day on the large ground up there, just opposite the Pisgot settlement. Whenever we went, the soldiers would come and shoot, to scare us. One day they shot at a boy who was playing and wounded him in the thigh. He fell and began bleeding a lot; luckily, the ambulance came quickly and took him to hospital. He is alright now but he limps and he can't play anymore.
"Why did they shoot at you? Were you throwing stones?"
No, we were only playing football.
We can't go to the big ground anymore. We have to make do with a small one near the school, where we can't really play properly. But we've found a way of annoying them. We send kites in the colors of the Palestinian flag into the [Israeli] settlement--that makes them furious.
Before, I went to throw stones, but I don't do it anymore. It doesn't achieve anything, apart from getting children killed. I want to become a fighter, to avenge my father.
Those bastards killed my father when he was out jogging! He was very athletic. During the day he worked as a house painter and when he finished in the afternoon he would go and train in a sports hall. That day, the hall was closed and so he went running. A patrol saw him and shot him. It was the 5th July 2001. There wasn't even a curfew.
"But why did they shoot?"
There had been shooting in the area; soldiers arrived and, in retaliation, shot at the first people who came.