Categorized | Middle East



It is in no one’s heart and out of every place. Totally transparent. A transparent place

with transparent people. It happens almost every day in Qalandiya refugee camp: they

come at night and capture someone. Several jeeps enter the camp. Stop by the house.

Then take one or the other away. Very seldom do they just arrest someone and leave.

Mostly they smash glass, overturn drawers, sometimes searching for something, at

other times just for the hell of it, sometimes looting, sometimes beating up family

members, shooting at cars, or at people, for everything is permissible, everything is

possible.They took Suhayeb Saber Khalil Hamad, the almost seventeen-year old son

of Abu Omar and Kifah, on the night between the 17th and 18th of July.

It was nearly 2 a.m. They stopped by the house. Eight jeeps. The soldiers got out and

threw a teargas canister into the house through a windowpane that was smashed and

the room filled with glass smithereens and white smoke. 14-year old Qassam and 17-year

old Suhayeb were sleeping in that room. Glass shards flew at them. And it was impossible

to see anything or breathe. They got up, startled, and ran upstairs, to their father.

And again the soldiers threw stun grenades, outside. And the house shook. Open up!

shouted the soldiers outside. Abu Omar ran downstairs and opened the door.

They forced me out to the street, dragging me along the floor like a dog, and shouting –

he says – and the soldier said to me, son of a bitch, open the door! and I said why are you


I’m opening, be patient, and he gripped me against the concrete wall. Then they ordered

me to raise my hands and searched me and said, go get everyone out of the house.

I went in and told my wife and daughter to get dressed, there were soldiers outside, and I

told them to go downstairs. And I came downstairs. And then everyone did. We stood outside.

Qassam didn’t come down.

The soldier said, you have more. I said, one more. He said, go get him. I went in. Everything

was filled with white smoke. I thought the house was burning. I looked for him. I worried

about him.

He was in the room. In a corner. I asked, what are you doing? He said he was afraid.

Of the smoke. He said there are soldiers outside. I said I know. Don’t be afraid. Come with me.

And then suddenly a soldier came and gripped him, stood him against the wall and yelled,

where are the documents?

The kid’s? I said he hasn’t any. The soldier said, okay. Then get yours. I gave him my ID.

They all came inside the house, about fifteen soldiers. They went through every room,

the bathroom, too. Yelling and swearing. They took out everything from the closets, all

our clothes, piled one on top of the other, I don’t know what they were looking for.

Everything was thrown on the floor, all our clothes, and they were nervous.

Then one of them said, get the whole family into one room. He said, where are your IDs?

I gave him all of ours. Then an officer showed up. I think, a high-ranking one. As soon as

he walked in there was no more yelling and swearing. He greeted me, good morning.

I said good morning. This is yourwhole family? he asked. I said yes. You speak Hebrew,

he asked. I said yes. Then he said, who are these? Pointing to the children. I said this is

Qassam, that is Omar, this Suhayeb… He was looking at a piece of paper, and said okay.

About Suhayeb. Then he told the soldiers, take the father and get him alone inside a

room and close the door. He told me, go upstairs. I thought they want to search more,

I didn’t get it. They closed in on me. I asked, what do you want? They said, sit down here,

don’t come out. My wife and children remained on their own. I was upstairs, they stayed


My wife told me later, they told her, get clothes for your son. Suhayeb said, what do you


They told him to shut up, not to talk. And he was afraid. He got dressed, put on his shoes

and clothes. He asked for cigarettes. They told him not to take any. He said to my wife, get

me cigarettes.

The officer said it was forbidden. Suhayeb was worried. Omar told him, be patient. Don’t say

anything. Then they hit Omar in the back, with the butt of an M-16 rifle.

My wife told me that the officer asked Suhayeb: Got anything? Are you a terrorist?

I’m human, Suhayeb said. I’ve done nothing. Then my wife talked with Suhayeb, too.

She said, be strong. Don’t be afraid. Be the way we know you are.

And then they took him. I saw him from the window. They put his hands up high. Then

behind his back, and then they tied them with that plastic thing, and a white blindfold.

And they took him to the jeep. When he got up they pushed him inside. And took him


I saw him being taken away.

Then people came and said that they took Ma’ez too. At night we put the house back in order.

We didn’t sleep. The children were terrified. Then in the morning, Shadi’s mother came,

and Ayub’s mother. Everyone heard the stun grenade, the two that were thrown, and the

loud swearing and yelling. All our neighbors woke up that night, and said this was the first

time soldiers were so loud and nervous and how they dragged me outside and swore.

-Did they beat you up?

No. Just pushed me around. They didn’t beat me. They hit Omar, but he’s okay.

The first two nights after that, the children didn’t get any sleep at all. They were afraid they

would be taken away. I told them they wouldn’t, that the soldiers only came for Suhayeb.

They shouldn’t be afraid. Yesterday and today they slept a bit. They wake up at night.

I mean sometimes. Nur (four-years old) dreams at night, cries out “Jeish, jeish!” (soldiers).

Then he gets a drink of water and goes back to sleep. Qassam, too (he’s fourteen, and his

head is full of shrapnel from being shot at with live ammunition when he was eight years

old) wakes up, afraid. He has nightmares about they’re coming.

They spoke with Suhayeb once, he says. Do they beat you? Kifah asked him. Whether they

do or not, her son said no, they don’t. Are you alright? his mother asked him.

Yes, he says. I’m fine.

He keeps asking about Alaa’ and Omar (Omar is nineteen, and Alaa’ eighteen), when

will they be done with their matriculation exams, Abu Omar tells us. I told him next

week they get their grades. Then he says to me, Father, I have 100 shekels, perhaps I’ll

buy firecrackers, you know, the kind they light up in weddings, boom-boom, and fire,

Abu Omar explains to me. And so next week when ‘Alaa and Omar get their final exam

grades, I’ll light up firecrackers, Suhayeb says. Okay, father?

This is what Abu Omar tells me, his voice vibrant with all the warmth in the world.

Translated by Tal Haran



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