Week in, week out, resistance to Israeli brutality by Palestinians takes many forms. Those living under occupation and state violence contend constantly with emotional and physical losses. They face impossible moral choices in seeking to assert their humanity and stop atrocities. And most of the time, their actions and the factors that lead to them are ignored or misrepresented in the media.
One of Mondoweiss’s ongoing goals is to document not only the actions of those who resist, but also how they view their choices. We regularly publish the words of people who are working every day to make sense of life under military rule. Today, we are highlighting a few examples of these Interviews That Power Justice, stories published over the past several months that illuminate the realities of resistance.
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Mohammed Zaidan, attempted suicide bomber
In April 2002, the Israeli military assaulted Jenin refugee camp in collective punishment for residents’ participation in the second intifada. In the nearby city of Jenin, 17-year-old Mohammed Zaidan watched in horror. Within a month, Zaidan’s mounting grief, anger and frustration led him to attempt a suicide bombing operation.
Last June, Zaidan told Mondoweiss correspondent Dan Cohen his story. After the April attack on the camp, Zaidan managed to deliver food with the Red Cross. “I found bulldozers all over the place with dead and burned bodies all around,” he said. “The bombing was everywhere. It wasn’t aimed at a specific target.”
“I saw a woman keeled over with her face in the dough,” killed as she was making bread. “She had a bullet in the middle of her face,” he added. The gruesome sights made Zaidan intent on carrying out a suicide bombing.
In the June interview, Zaidan described his failed attempt, the injuries he suffered, and his experience over almost ten years in Israeli prison. Today he is a taxi driver in Gaza City, with a wife and family. He told reporter Cohen about his mental and philosophical state both at the time of his one violent act and today.
“I wouldn’t do it again. I would help in delivering food and tending to sick people,” he said. “But for me to do a suicide bombing? I wouldn’t – not because I failed but because of my age now….It’s still the same philosophy: You either live free or die free.”
Salah and Raweeda al-Hashlamoun, demanding accountability
On September 22, Hadil al-Hashlamoun was shot to death at a Hebron checkpoint by Israeli soldiers. While the military has claimed that al-Hashlamoun carried a knife, a Brazilian eyewitness photographed the events and has attested that no blade was present. Amnesty International has called the killing an “extrajudicial execution.”
Mondoweiss correspondent Allison Deger was able to obtain an interview with Hadil al-Hashlamoun’s devastated parents. She heard from them of a young woman who was a keen student, a poet, increasingly devout and dedicated to volunteering. Hadil al-Hashlamoun’s focus on achieving and helping others within the limits of what is possible was the same approach taken by her father, who is an eminent physician. But now, both parents are furious at the cavalier destruction of their daughter’s promising future.
“As a poet, it’s impossible for her to harm anybody,” said Hadil’s mother, Raweeda al-Hashlamoun. “She was active and quiet, she was smart, she was planning her life for the future.” Father Salah al-Hashlamoun has no doubt that Hadil was not carrying a knife. “The Israelis always accuse—man or woman, child or elderly—that they killed or injured that person because they tried to stab a soldier,” Salah said. “My daughter was killed in an unfair and unjustifiable manner.”
The family are demanding that the Israeli military produce CCTV footage from the checkpoint showing that the knife came from Hadil, “or shut up.”
Ahed Tamimi, undeterred by armed Israeli soldier
In September, Mondoweiss’s Deger published another valuable interview. Young teenaged girls in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh were seen worldwide in a photo that went viral even in the mainstream media, when they joined other women in tackling an Israeli soldier who was hurting 12-year-old Mohammed Tamimi.
After the photo was published, 14-year-old Ahed Tamimi was approached by many reporters for her story. Ahed was pleased that the photo spread so widely, “so the world can see what happens.” She sat down for an extended interview with Deger, who also talked with other children in the village about the many years of violence Nabi Saleh has suffered even during nonviolent protests.
Nine-year-old Janna Jihad, a cousin and close friend of Ahed, has taken on the task of informing the world about Nabi Saleh’s protests. Her Facebook timeline, followed by close to 20,000 people, is filled with images of her relatives and classmates running from tear gas typically fired at protesters during the weekly marches. When she grows up, Jihad said she wants to report for CNN or Fox.
Interviews that Power Justice
These are just a few stories shared by Mondoweiss, giving glimpses into the world of people struggling with the impossible. If you found other interviews or first-person stories particularly meaningful, we’d like to hear from you. Please tell us in the comments — which were your the most memorable stories in 2015?
These intimate stories that convey life-and-death choices, daily struggles and heroic resistance are only possible with your support. Please contribute today to Mondoweiss’s year-end campaign and help insure that we will be able to continue to bring you stories that you remember and help pave the way to a more just future.