Returning from Jerusalem on the 12th of August our team’s first priority was to follow up on the fatal shooting by an Israeli soldier of a 12 year old boy Khalil Muhammad Ahmad al-Amiti in the front of his house in Fawwar Refugee Camp in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank on the 10th of this month. We were told that although some other boys had been throwing rocks at the soldiers, this boy had just came to the front of his house to see what all the noise was about. To our knowledge their has been no release of any information further to an investigation into this incident by the army. To be clear our role is not necessarily to investigate, but to assist the family and community that we can.
Khoulod Al-Titi, our community contact and local English teacher took us to her house in the refugee camp where she introduced us to her husband, also a teacher and youth club manager. We sat with them and their seven children and like in almost every house have entered since arriving, we are served tea. Our hosts are very upbeat and optimistic about the future while expressing frustration about not being able to return to their ancestor’s home. Khoulod’s ancestors had been exiled from their homes and moved to Fawwar Refugee Camp in the “catastrophe” in 1949 by Israeli forces as had several hundred Palestinians. Despite the first United Nations Resolution in 1952 ordering Israel to allow refugees to return to their homes this has not happened.
On the way to meet with the family of the slain youth we walked by the memorial that has been created in memory of Amiti. A small group of interested by-standers quickly joined us including a 19 year old youth in a wheel chair who claimed that he had been shot by an Israeli soldier 4 years previous.
We wound our way through the alleys of the refugee camp until we reached a section in the alley where chairs had been assembled. Quickly we were joined by Amiti’s parents, uncle, brothers and sisters, grandfather as well as numerous other grief stricken friends and neighbors. As the anger and frustration poured out from all sides it was evident that they were indeed suffering from this recent tragedy but also very tired of the circumstances that they have been forced to live in through no fault of their own for decades. They clearly were looking for support, help and a way out of this situation that they and their children are forced to live in.
In the middle of their out pouring and answering the questions we had posed to them, people came from every direction placing in front of us tea and considerable fresh baking and sweets. We made to feel very welcome in their community and their home.
We will be returning to visit with them before the end of the month, hopefully with some assistance to help them in some small way for the needless death of this boy. What is needed however is for “Just Peace” – for an end to the occupation and end for hostilities by all parties involved.