In the words of a Palestinian peace activist - part 2
I thought occupation means
your job or how you spend your free time, at least that was my only understanding of the word at that time. But on the first day of summer, at the age of sixteen years old, my father sent me to work in Israel as a handyman (construction helper). I got a ride from a group of Palestinian workers and while driving through the Holy City of Jerusalem, we were stopped suddenly by an armed Israeli border police and we were asked to step out of the car and to stand side by side against the wall. I saw other cars and busses stopped as well. The soldiers wore different expressions -hope, hopeless, power, fear, smiling, unfriendly, peaceful and violent. I was confused by what I saw. I turned to one of the workers and asked what's going on, why did we stop? He said keep quiet and asked: is this your first time, I said yes, and then he said to wait till one of the border-police soldiers ask for an ID. I had my ID on me. Half an hour later an Israeli border police approached me, looked me in the face with a smile on his face and asked me for my ID. I gave him my ID with an innocent and respectful smile on my face, he looked back at me with an angry face and asked me what I was smiling at, I said I was nothing, that I was only smiling back, then he said to me in Hebrew, if you open your mouth you will be punished. I didn’t understand what he said so I started telling him in English that I didn't understand what he said, and he responded by slapping my face and beating me with his machine gun. I fell down to the ground. Other boarder policemen participate as well. I was beaten half to death and left on the floor covered in blood. They through my ID on the ground and left the scene. Blood was all over and I was asking myself and the other workers WHY????? Is it because the smile or because I don’t speak Hebrew or because I didn’t understand what he said? Then I understood that this is what occupation is.
So what is occupation?
It’s not your job or how you spent your time, occupation is when one country maintains a military presence within another country and seizures and controls that country's land and all aspects of life. And if I may add, occupation is a slow killing disease that needs to be stopped and ended. It is like cancer that strips your hair from your body and eats you alive minute by minute and day by day.
Despite that I will not judge the whole country because of one uncontrolled bad behavior. I felt sad and sorry for that Israeli border policeman, I did not hate him, I hated his actions because such actions are continuing the bloodshed and give an excuse for extremist to act aggressively and commit suicide attacks against the innocents.
I graduated in the summer of 1979
and my father send me to work in Israel. I started working as a store keeper in a clothing factory. During that summer I met Ruchama. She was a pretty Jewish girl and I fall in love with her. She fell in love with me as well but that didn’t last for long because my Palestinian supervisor told my father about it and my father said to me to work and stop ing withJewish girls, just bring him money. So the following day I hit my supervisor and was sent home.
When I was Nineteen
I decided to put an end to the cruel treatment I got at home, so I put fear aside and took a courageous step by leaving for Jordan trying to seek a better life. My runaway that time have nothing to do with the occupation.
I started a new chapter in my life
When I went to live with my uncles in Jordan and from there I moved with them to the United Arabs Emirates and worked for four years. The sad thing was that most of my savings I sent to my father but he used the money to build a three story house for his evil wife and to get himself a brand new jeep. On April 7th 1981 he had a car accident and died at the age of 45 years old.
I returned home to face his wife again but it was no different, even after my father's death. The only difference was that I was no longer that small frightened child.
I looked for my love but it was too late as Ruchama died from a heart problem. I felt sad and in a way guilty because I runaway instead of dealing with the problems. I started working as a construction worker inside Israel while studying in a private institute to become an electrician. That was until the first intifada started in 1987, at which point I was hired by the Beit Ommar City Hall where I worked till September 2005.
In 1990I got married and now I have three children; Allam, a 23 years old boy, Lara , a 21 years old girl and Joseph , a 13 years old boy, all of whom I have not seen since September 2nd, 2005. That was the day that I was forced to leave my homeland seeking refuge and a better life for myself and my lovely family.
To be continued…