On Tuesday morning, the Mousa family received an unexpected call from the Palestinian Authority (PA) intelligence services.
To their horror, the man told them that their daughter Maysoon had carried out an operation against Israeli forces.
“We didn’t believe it. We knew it wasn’t her,” the mother of the 19-year-old said in her living room on the day following the alleged attack.
Nearly an hour after the call from the PA, as an Israeli military force thirty men strong pulled up to the family home in the village of Ash Shawawra near Bethlehem in search of evidence against Maysoon, her relative Ra’ada said.
Ra’ada, the wife of Maysoon’s cousin, was the only one in the home at the time. She was left laughing in disbelief that the forces believed Maysoun could have made it to Checkpoint 300 in Bethlehem to carry out such an attack.
A bride-to-be come August and second year into an English degree, Ra’ada says Maysoon wouldn’t have had more on her mind than the wedding dress she had just rented and the salon appointments she had booked.
The amusement of the scenario playing out before her eyes was soon tarnished as she realized the severity of what the search insinuated.
“They searched everything,” she explained, “every single part of her room, every page of every book… but they didn’t find anything that would suggest that she was involved in anything political.”
After thirty minutes, the forces left the home in shambles with a confiscated shebria, a ceremonial dagger that the Mousas say has been in the family for decades and is generally used as a wall decoration.
Shortly after, they say, the Israeli police posted a photo of the knife online alleging it was confiscated from the attacker’s person along with another knife at the scene of the crime.
Mousa family members say the claim is impossible, as the shebria had been in their closet at the time of the attack.
An Israeli police spokesperson did not immediately respond for comment to allegations of false evidence.
As over 99 percent of Palestinians charged in Israeli courts are convicted, often without proper evidence, the Mousa family is apprehensively digesting the seeming holes in the Israeli narrative of Monday’s incident.
Now in the first moments of the days or months that Israeli authorities often hold Palestinians in prison without releasing information on their status or allowing access to a lawyer, Maysoon’s relatives are oscillating between the shock of the last 48 hours and the opaque future that awaits their daughter.
“It’s in God’s hands,” Maysoon’s mother said.
“The soldiers, when they came, said she would stay in jail for 20 or 30 years. This kind of thing, they said…it’s something that keeps you forever.”
The unusual suspect
The last time her mother saw Maysoon was at 9 a.m. on the morning of the attack, before she left for classes at Al-Quds Open University in Beit Jala.
Maysoon’s regular commute to the university, around a twenty minute ride from Ash Shawawra, doesn’t pass the Bethlehem checkpoint where the attack allegedly took place.
Despite this, this is where Maysoon headed next as per the records of the Israeli army.
An Israeli army spokesperson told Mondoweiss a woman, later identified by the PA as Maysoon, was detained by Israeli forces on the scene immediately after stabbing a soldier, that the weapon was confiscated, and she was taken to a detention center.
The 20-year-old female soldier was then admitted to the hospital and in critical condition.
“She didn’t look like she was going to go kill anyone,” Maysoon’s mother said, in protest that her daughter had carried out the stabbing.
“If a person is going to go kill someone, it would show…she looked like she was going for a normal day,” she added, family members suggesting Maysoon had been “kidnapped” and taken to the checkpoint.
Unlike many Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, the Mousa family stresses they haven’t personally faced significant problems with Israeli forces in the past.
Despite being located in Area C under full Israeli military control, the family says they don’t experience the near nightly detention raids that are common throughout the West Bank, chalking this up to the claimed lack of political activity among residents, including Maysoon.
“She’s never spoken about politics. No one in our family even works in politics, or is affiliated with any political parties,” Maysoon’s brother Khaled told Mondoweiss.
The events to follow rippled quickly through the Mousa household.
Until two days ago, Maysoon shared her room with two siblings and a 25-year-old from the village who has mental disabilities. Since the Israeli raid on the home, however, families members said he has spent all day pacing the roof, only coming down to sleep.
He was terrified by the brutal tactics they used during the search, the family says, and now is unable to function properly.
Furthermore, within a day of her alleged checkpoint attack, two of Maysoon’s brothers who travel daily through the checkpoint to Israel for work were fired from their jobs and their work permits summarily revoked by Israel as a direct response to the incident.
A third relative had his permit revoked and has not yet heard about the status of his job.
“Today, they fired me, “ Khaled, 39, told Mondoweiss. “We were told to come to the office, and they said to us we were fired because of what happened,” he added, referring to the alleged attack by his sister.
The normality of such revocations falls in line with the longstanding Israeli policy of punitive measures for the families of alleged Palestinian attackers of Israeli military or civilians, including home demolitions, denial of basic services, and for the Mousa brothers, restriction on movement.
“There’s a possibility that we will never be allowed to enter back in,” Khaled said.
“Always, when something happens, they immediately cancel the permits. Luckily, there’d never been anyone in the family that had trouble with Israel.”
‘There’s nothing any of us can do to stop it.’
Although no evidence has been presented to support the Mousa family’s claim that Israeli police is using false evidence against Maysoon, their claim, if true, would be keeping in line with history.
Their disbelief with the incident, claim of false evidence, and near-impossible chances of a fair trial grounds the family in fear that they might never learn the truth about what happened.
The stabbing came amid daily high-tension backups at the crossing due to high numbers of Palestinians heading to Jerusalem during Ramadan, where the hectic cramped space that results could make it even more difficult to decipher exactly what may have played out.
Head of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society Bethlehem branch said Wednesday they were still unable to determine Maysoon’s location in order to send her a lawyer, and had no information on her status.
As for now, the Mousa family is left to speculate about the shebria confiscated from their home and wait for the grinding process of the Israeli military court system to begin.
“We want to know her situation,” Maysoon’s mother said.
“We’re terrified for her because we don’t know what’s going to happen to her or what they’re doing to her… they haven’t released any information and we haven’t been able to speak to her,” she added.
“We don’t accept that there was any kind of operation that occurred and we’re suspicious about the entire thing,” her brother Khaled said, casting aside hope that their official governing body of the PA will act to intervene in possible legal malpractice into the case.
“The PA takes Israel’s story of the events. Even if we refuse it, the PA will stand with Israel in order not to disturb the status quo.”
“The message I want to send to Israel and the rest of the world is that they should release this girl,” Maysoon’s mother said.
“The thing with Israel is that they’ll take anyone from the street and issue any charge they want. There’s nothing any of us can do to stop it.”