October 11th, 2002
The jeep was roaming the city. Inside it, a bunch of model Israeli soldiers, they have all the qualifications of the typical Israeli occupation army requests; ruthlessness, blood-thirst and sadism.
The jeep approach Street 15 in the Rafidya area in Nablus, residential buildings and villas were the theme of the area.
Dr. Jamal Abu Hijleh, his wife Shaden and their son Sa’ed live in a villa on Street 15. The other three members of the family are out of the country. Shaden and her husband were tending to the front garden. Sa’ed was in the glassed entrance. --some people call them sunroom or glassed porch. Shaden was famous for her love to gardening and her garden was immaculate. I know that because they are parents to my twin brother Nasser’s wife, Lana.
When the jeep neared, the Abu Hijleh’s did not really hide because where they were standing at the time was protected from both sides by the front of the house and the fence. Besides, the curfew that started on June 20 was wearing people out. No one was expected to stay locked up for 112 days, and hide every time a patrol passes. Also, the curfew’s been lifted form 6 am till 6 pm since Wednesday–except today--, people of Nablus took this as a sign to try to get back to normal life.
The army jeep did not just pass. It stopped suddenly and opened fire at the Abu Hijleh’s for no reason. There were no provocations –as the army calls them--; no stone throwing nor demonstrations to give excuse to the soldiers to open fire, but they did. After the incident, someone said the soldiers left the street laughing.
Shaden died on the spot, two bullets hit her in the heart and neck, Dr. Jamal and Sa’ed suffered shrapnel wounds and were rushed to hospital. The incident lasted less than ten seconds. Ten seconds that changed a whole family.
The news shocked people instantly. Shaden was a social and peaceful activist who was very active in peaceful demonstrations and in helping needy people in the curfew and providing them with food and medicine relief through the many social organizations was she was a member. She helped a lot in the returning to school campaign, which practically broke the curfew for nearly two weeks. Shaden was a good citizen, now she is dead, Murdered in cold blood.
Our news desk was receiving so many calls checking if what people heard was true. I received my share and tried to go to hospital to offer my condolences and help to the family but the curfew was very restricted and both the hospital where the family was taken and their home were surrounded and sieged by the army.
I felt helpless. My brother Nasser and his wife Lana were out of the country and so were Lana’s two other brothers, Ra’ed and Rami. Nasser and Lana were in Jordan due back on Sunday. There was no chance possible for them to cross the borders from Amman tonight. The borders and roads leading to Nablus are controlled by the Israeli army and were banned for Palestinians at night.
My family finally managed to get through to Nasser and gave him the burden of delivering the unbelievable, saddening and frustrating news to Lana. He said he would shut off all the mobile phones and get Lana away from TVs and radios. He will tell her in the morning; she will not be able to stand knowing and staying away. Sa’ed said he would take care of informing his bothers Ra’ed and Rami.
I finally managed to get through to Sa’ed who had previously left his mobile with friends as he was recovering from his wounds in hospital. He said, “They attacked us in cold blood, the area was very quite and when the jeep passed by the house, my parents were already in the front garden, I was behind the glass in the porch. The jeep stopped and opened fire. I felt helpless, it is devastating”
The victim this time is a mother, the last was a father, son, daughter, grandfather… etc. The world media would probably brush the news flash away, and so would world leaders. For them, it is becoming too common for Palestinians to be victims.
I leave you with one question, Is Israel adopting a policy of assassinating peace activists?
The world is watching, yet has done little.
Radio Tariq Al Mahabbeh
Nablus Under Curfew