yesterday morning, i read some weird messages about omar (25) getting arrested later at night after he got shot in the stomach. the messages said that the army stopped the ambulance outside of the village and arrested both omar and another young man who was accompanying him. apparently the occupying army had once again raided the village after i went to bed.
at 6.30 mustafa‘s sister dalal, who lives in the US, wrote me asking for news about omar as his family in the US was very worried.
zeyad (25), the oldest son in the family after mustafa, was online. i knew he was at work in ramallah (where he stays the entire week, including nights) but i thought he might know. i asked him about omar. i also read something about the army having arrested him (zeyad) as well as mohammad from inside their respective homes but since zeyad was at work – and apparently online as well – i didn’t take that seriously. dalal wasn’t worried about him either. i did ask zeyad what that message was about, but before he even answered, i told dalal that her brother was alright. it was omar we worried about.
as usual zeyad didn’t answer, and as usual i got annoyed (i’ve been pretty irritated with lately). i wrote him some angry message and left to buy credit and call whichever of his brothers i’d find awake.
their father answered one of my calls.
and yes, the army did come into their home once again in the middle of the night (at 2.30) asking right away for zeyad. and yes, zeyad was actually at home, he hadn’t been able to go to ramallah that day because of the general strike in the west bank (and so, of course, it wasn’t him that i saw online).
the army once again invaded their home with their super-guns drawn. one soldier stood in front of a picture of mustafa and umm mustafa asked him how they even dared to set foot (or combat boots) in their home after everything they did. the soldier answered that he was sorry, that it wasn’t him who killed mustafa. “you’re all the occupying army”, umm mustafa said (in response the soldier told her to shut up, said that he knew everything about the family and about what happened).
they took zeyad, closed the door in the face of the rest of the family and forbade them to go out. they also arrested mohammad from his house. (watch video of the raid – images of omar getting taken into ambulance at the end)
i feel so so angry that they had the nerve to go into that house once again, that they dared to harass this family once more. its not even been a month since they released loai (20) from ofer military prison – and already when they had arrested him, in the middle of the night, from inside their home, barely two months after they had shot dead mustafa in cold blood in their own village, i (like so many others) could almost not believe it, felt so so enraged that they would enter their home again with their guns. it still makes me furious that they actually imprisoned loai – FROM INSIDE THEIR HOME – only two months after he saw his eldest brother bleed into the street in their village, before friends carried him into a car and away from him forever. (watch this video: loai, wearing a grey/black checkered jacket, can be first seen at 0:22). i still feel a mixture of rage and pain and i struggle to grasp that they not only murdered mustafa in the way they did, but that they stormed the house of the bereft family so shortly after and violently arrested the brother who actually saw mustafa dying, when they had only released his twin odai from military jail the day of mustafa’s funeral – AFTER the funeral. i still can’t grasp that odai heard in jail that someone in his village was severely injured, heard in jail that the injured young man was his eldest brother, heard in jail that it was a serious injury and that he might lose his eye, heard in jail that he might be fine after all, and heard in jail the next day that his brother was martyred. and that he was denied the right to spend that terrible day with his family and friends, with his twin brother.
last night, i got again choked up thinking about it, it felt unbearable, i chatted up loai again, and again, something about his reply (which made me laugh at myself) was typical, perhaps the reason why i keep feeling draw to them, and yet something i struggle to describe. something about how does one LIVE after such things happen? they do (and loai, for one, does so joking), and i keep needing to see that.
mustafa is mentioned every day in all kinds of conversations in the house. and i often talk about just this with umm mustafa, about how this is all TOO MUCH, how i really can almost not accept that this all happened to them. i often end up crying at the outrage and injustice of it. and i usually end up saying that hopefully, this is IT though, that surely they have had more than several lifetimes of a family’s share of potential suffering caused by this army, that hopefully from now on, they WILL be able to just live. only two weeks ago, loai found work, only a month ago, ola (19) came back from jordan, where she spend six months trying to get back some sense of life after the murder of her brother, only some days ago dalal (26) – who had joined her husband in the US nine years ago after her wedding and who has not seen her family since – finally got her US passport and is now booking a flight to come together with her eldest daughter in october.
but they just arrested yet another brother. yesterday, dalal said she just realized that she will probably not see zeyad when she comes. i didn’t know what to say. but then i said that as bad as it sounded, she could visit him in jail. she said that wasn’t enough for her. not enough especially knowing how much zeyad in particular loves children, not enough he might be denied his first chance to play with his niece. at one point, dalal said that sometimes she thinks god doesn’t want them to be all together. how terrible to live through things that can even make you think that.
zeyad and mohammad were brought to ofer military prison right away. for a while, it was not clear where or how omar was. eventually, eyas, who was arrested with him, was released and we received the news that omar was at ofer as well. the three were visited by their lawyer late in the afternoon. later, the lawyer said that omar was obviously in pain, but apparently not in serious condition. he was reportedly shot with eight rubber-coated steel bullets.
as i’m writing this, the three are hopefully having their court hearing. for zeyad, his relative nida’a (whose husband tarek is still at ofer as well) went. his mother and father have a permit for today only allowing them to go to an israeli hospital. abu mustafa needs a new kidney and it’s been months that we’ve been trying to find out details about his condition.
i think to many who don’t know them and even more to those who don’t know other families in palestine, mustafa’s family appears to live in a different world where the set of rules and standards that define our lives do not apply, where all the shit that the army keeps doing to them seems certainly terrible, but to be expected. perhaps they or you think of them as a family in war. in the palestine-activism world, on the other hand, they are maybe almost idealized, they are imagined as symbolic, strong, whatever else one comes up with.
i am trying to say that most of the time, whenever the army (with the support of our media and governments) doesn’t decide otherwise, they are JUST A FAMILY – period. when they are not shot at, tear-gassed, prevented from receiving urgently needed medical care, when their home isn’t invaded, when the boys aren’t arrested or beaten, when their relatives are not prevented from visiting them in palestine, they worry about getting the laptop repaired, someone complains about what’s again for dinner, someone tries to win an argument about taking the car after 10 pm to go to a wedding in jalazon refugee camp, someone picks cactus-fruit for someone else, someone can’t find the red football shirt and gets upset, someone brings warm bread in time for dinner, umm mustafa worries even about me when i want to walk down the road to bilal and manal’s house after dark, everyone works together on expanding the house, they try to make anyone passing by feel welcome, etc.
whenever they can be, they are a close-knit family, living in an amazing community with bonds so strong that i feel envious.