In Budrus, grief stings

Israel/Palestine
on 10 Comments
mourners
Palestinians mourn Sameer Awad during a funeral in Budrus, Tuesday, 15 January 2013. (Photo: Allison Deger/Mondoweiss)

The final act of every Palestinian funeral is a military incursion into the deceased’s village, at least since the 2012 Palestinian bid for non-member observer status with the United Nations.

In the case of Sameer Awad, the 16-year-old killed by the Israeli army in occupied Budrus after taking his exams last Tuesday, the military began firing tear gas into the village while Awad’s peers were still mourning over his grave.

Similarly two months ago, Rushdi Tamimi, 31, from Nabi Saleh was killed by Israeli-fire during a protest over the bombardment of Gaza– and then Tamimi’s loved ones were hanging over his headstone as the Israeli military walled in the village with tear gas. And then an epilogue: within five minutes of the last funeral speech the distinct crack of live-fire bullets was heard. Anyone from outside of Nabi Salah who traveled to pay respects was trapped for the next few hours.

poster
Martyr’s poster, Sameer Awad.

The renewed suppression of Palestinians organizing burials recalls a commonplace tactic during both the first and second Intifada. Just the other night a Palestinian friend told me about the funeral of her cousin during the second Intifada where she and her family were assaulted with tear gas before reaching the grave site. Now Israeli government officials decrying a third Intifada—which Palestinian leaders have yet to call for—and their labeling of a time of troubles coincides with flourishing crackdowns on any Palestinian organizing with even the slightest political tenor.

The circumstances around Awad’s death showcase this ramped up military response to relatively inconsequential and nominal acts of resistance. The day of Awad’s death he and his classmates had just finished the first day of final exams. It was 10 am; the students left their school, which happens to be adjacent to the village cemetery, and headed toward the seam line. Sometimes a concrete wall, sometimes a fence, in Budrus the separation barrier is a metal chain-link fence topped with barbed wire, and an unpaved military road. Beyond the fence is a thick forest.

“Every day there is a problem between the children and the soldiers,” said Ayed Morror, 50, who told me he witnessed Awad’s death. Habitually after school the youth go to the only open plot of land in the village and throw stones at the fence, or soldiers. On the day of Awad’s murder the students pelted the fence. According to Morror, “the children didn’t see any soldiers because they were hidden in the trees” and even moments before Awad was shot there were “no clashes at all.” His narrative of the events leading up to Awad’s death differs from both the official statement by the IDF, and a press release by Palestinian sources from the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee.

After the first bullet hit Awad’s leg, he and the other youths sprinted uphill to the cover of Budrus’s stone houses, said Morror. Then shots two, three and four entered Awad’s leg, back and head, respectively.

“I think this is the last string. It’s the highest pressure to get the children to not go to the fence,” said Morror, who indicated that the evening prior the military had raided the village. Their purpose? Morror said they did not come to arrest anyone; rather they spoke to parents admonishing them for allowing their children to be in the Western part of Budrus closest to the separation fence.

gas funeral
Tear gas fired into Budrus by the Israeli military shortly after the funeral of Sameer Awad.

All photographs are by the author.

 

About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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10 Responses

  1. MRW
    January 19, 2013, 1:12 pm

    wow.

  2. DICKERSON3870
    January 19, 2013, 1:37 pm

    RE: “The renewed suppression of Palestinians organizing burials recalls a commonplace tactic during both the first and second Intifada.” ~ Allison Deger

    FOR ANOTHER TACTIC OF THE SECOND INTIFADA, SEE:
    “The Dogs of War: The Next Intifada”, By Uri Avnery, Counterpunch, 9/03/11

    [EXCERPT] . . . The second (“al-Aqsa”) intifada started after the breakdown of the 2000 Camp David conference and Ariel Sharon’s deliberately provocative “visit” to the Temple Mount. The Palestinians held non-violent mass demonstrations. The army responded with selective killings. A sharpshooter accompanied by an officer would take position in the path of the protest, and the officer would point out selected targets – protesters who looked like “ringleaders”. They were killed.
    This was highly effective. Soon the non-violent demonstrations ceased and were replaced by very violent (“terrorist”) actions. With those the army was back on familiar ground. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to counterpunch.org

  3. Annie Robbins
    January 19, 2013, 7:09 pm

    this will never end with the banistanization of palestinian villages and cities. there will be a constant need to curtail movement and tighten the noose. constant. these provocations, killing children and then attacking the funerals, this is how they started the last gazan massacre. how are palestinians supposed to stand by as the occupying army execute their children? and do nothing.

    sometimes it is all i can do to not hate them. is this what israel wants? i will overcome and we will grow and they will be the isolated ones with their gruesome sickening deadly ways, their provocations.

    looking at Sameer’s beautiful face, my heart goes out to his family. what a tremendous loss.

    • American
      January 20, 2013, 10:26 am

      “sometimes it is all i can do to not hate them.”…annie

      Well you’re a better person than me charlie brown…I’ve lost the hate battle…but I try to confine my hating to those ‘ individuals’ who are are responsible.
      Who do we blame for these things? Is it the Israel and IDF leadership that promotes/sanctions this wanton killing? Is it individual IDF shooters whose parents raised them to think of killing Palestine children as nothing more than taking out the trash? Is it both? I think it’s some of both .
      There evidently is no way to weed out the individuals responsible, unless the Israelis do it themselves and purge their leadership..and that doesnt look like it’s happening.
      I see no way to stop this without stopping the ‘country of Israel’, period.
      And since the US gov has gone the way of Israel in many ways I seriously doubt the US will be the one to stop them.
      It’s maddening, my brain is worn out with it.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 20, 2013, 12:16 pm

        hmm, i’m way past thinking it’s wanton killing american. allison links to one of my articles above where i indicate what i think this is about. as well as these articles:

        link to mondoweiss.net

        link to mondoweiss.net

        as for hate, i couldn’t do what i do if i hated. i would go mad and be ineffectual. we have to have sumud. if palestinians can be steadfast, we can too.

      • American
        January 20, 2013, 1:14 pm

        @annie

        So you think these latest killing aren’t just the usual we see so frequently, but Isr is provoking a third intifada with whese killings –which are naturally against the cease fire agreement…which was worthless.
        Provoking has always been Isr’s pattern but do you see this as Isr thinking they can bring about a *final and last intifada*? Are they ready for the last act?

  4. Accentitude
    January 20, 2013, 3:08 am

    The second photo in this article troubles me. Not only for the reason that by looking at his portrait, its clear that the army murdered a little kid, but also because of the PFLP logo beside his portrait. I doubt whether Sameer Awad knew who or what the PFLP is, or what they stand for, and so I find it a little troubling that his funeral is being politicized by the PFLP. The whole situation reeks of IDF terrorism and perhaps from the Israeli side it was politically motivated (after all, isn’t the occupation politically motivated?) but from the Palestinian side, the factions had nothing to do with it. He wasn’t a shaheed, he wasn’t a martyr, he wasn’t a member of the resistance on a dangerous mission. He was just a kid, an unarmed civilian, that was singled out and murdered by the IDF. Instead of being used as a statistic for a political faction, all Palestinians should look at Sameer Awad as one of their own. We’re all Palestinians. We’re all brothers and sisters or Sameer Awad, and as long as this occupation continues, we are all Sameer Awad.

    • Allison Deger
      January 20, 2013, 8:40 am

      @Accentitude, From what I’ve observed, functionally the PFLP water mark on the martyr’s poster is relatively meaningless. The political parties pay for the posters of the deceased and it is commonplace that they place their logo on it. I’ve seen others that are much more front and center then this one. It’s certainly not as big of a deal if for example, the GOP but an elephant on a young victim’s funeral poster.

      And I would be hesitant to assume that Awad didn’t know much about the PFLP. He was a teenager, so he could have been in one of the youth organizations for the party for all we know (this is how ancillary the political party was to the funeral that as an attendee I didn’t hear anything about the PFLP).

      Palestinian teenagers are much more politically aware than American teenagers. But again, I don’t think the PFLP was eating at the opportunity to plug their party. At Rushdi Tamimi’s funeral a few weeks before, some* in Fatah did do this. But it wasn’t through logos and images, bogarting interviews they spent their their time with Western journalists talking smack about Hamas instead of the life of the one we were mourning.

  5. Cliff
    January 20, 2013, 5:08 am

    link to palestinemonitor.org

    Awad was shot while RUNNING AWAY FROM the IDF.

    They shot him in the head and neck.

    He was unarmed and 16. He was a kid. Why would you shoot an unarmed child while they are running from you? And “you” means GROUP OF ARMED SOLDIERS.

    Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. The Israelis don’t have an army, they have a group of murderers who enforce the colonialism project of the Israeli government.

  6. LeaNder
    January 20, 2013, 9:28 am

    The renewed suppression of Palestinians organizing burials recalls a commonplace tactic during both the first and second Intifada.

    very good reporting Alison. I think for longer now, but it feels I should tell you one time. ;)

    Shmuel and Avi once explained to me what the repression was about and the closer circumstances during the first intifada.

    Thus the repression and the following military activities seemed to be mainly the result of fear they could be used as political gatherings. Admittedly I was pretty shocked a couple of years back about the statements by an American-Israeli academic in a private exchange. It in fact stopped further exchanges. His deeply prejudiced perception of Palestinians was hard to ignore.

    Pat Lang once wrote from a military perspective that the IDF soldiers in the OT are usually young, badly trained and with a rather lax command. The rest for him is mainly the result of this. I am not sure if Avi and Shmuel can confirm this. Although I am assuming they were young to, when they were sent there. If Avi was sent there too at all, that is.

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