Mutaz Zawahra was having the time of his life in France on a youth program with two other friends when he got the news that his oldest brother had fallen dangerously ill. His brother, Ghassan, was on hunger strike in Israeli prison protesting his internment without trial or charge, and family members told Mutaz that his older brother may not make it through his strike alive.
Mutaz returned home immediately to be with his family in Bethlehem, just in time for the start of the unrest that was about to erupt. Not long after, on Sept. 29, Israeli authorities announced that they would release Ghassan, 40 days into his hunger strike. Ghassan ended his strike and began to look forward to home. Exactly two weeks later, his brother was shot dead.
Israeli forces shot and killed Mutaz during a particularly intense bout of clashes coined “A Day of Rage.” He was the 30th Palestinian to be shot dead that month.
Mutaz, a well-known supporter of the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was loved by his community — a fact that was apparent at his funeral, as thousands of mourners flooded the streets of Bethlehem.
His brother Ghassan, was not one of them.
When Ghassan was finally released on Nov. 30, he went straight to his brother’s gravesite before even thinking to go home.
Two days later he was giving a speech at a commemoration ceremony, which should have marked the 40-day anniversary of his brother’s death, as Islamic tradition. The commemoration was held for several days however, so Ghassan could at least have the honor of paying his respects to his brother on a special day just for him.
During his speech, Ghassan is flanked by three other younger brothers, giving him the strength to continue when tears threaten to break his voice.