I met a boy who said “He did a good job of killing“

[Mai Namiki, 17 October 2016]

A poster put on a shutter of a supermarket. It says, “Closed in mourning of Misbah Abu Sbeih, The Lion of Al Aqsa.“

It was Tuesday evening, 11th October 2016. When I got out of my home in East Jerusalem, three Palestinian boys talked to me. They were my neighbors and of age of junior high school. One of them, who had black eyes and looked friendly, told me.

“You often come to my shop, don’t you? It is closed today.”
“Which one is it?”
“The shop in front of the Rockfeller park.”

I often go to the shop, as it is open until late night. The manager and employees are so gentle that I love it. The boy explained that the shop was closed to mourn for a shaheed.

“Shaheed” is a Muslim martyr, who died in a religious struggle. Specifically in Palestine, it means a Muslim who died in a fight against Israel. Actually at noon of 9th October, a shooting accident happened near my home at a distance of 10 minutes walk. Two Israelis were killed, and five were injured. The criminal, a Palestinian of 39 years old, was shot dead at the place. He is one of the shaheed among Palestinians.

The boy continued to speak to me with an innocent look.

Many shops are closed on the Salah e-Din street.

“The shooter was a cousin of my shop’s manager. That’s why the shop is mourning him. He was shot immediately but did a good job of killing Jews (atal ilyahood mniih).”

I hardly managed to answer him.

“Oh, God bless him. But, I am against violence.”

Although I am against the Israeli policy of occupying the land of Palestine, I am against any violence, which makes citizens its victims. Whether a Palestinian kills an Israeli or an Israeli kills a Palestinian, it is nothing but violence. I cannot accept it.

His smile disappeared from his face.

“Violence? How long are you living in Palestine? A year and a half? OK, that’s why you speak Arabic well. But you should have learned our situation, if you’ve lived here so long. What do Jews do to Palestinians in Gaza? Isn’t that violence?”

How can people criticize violence by Palestinians, when Israel continues engaging in much bigger violence? I could not answer him, feeling his great anger.

It was not only this shop that was closed in mourning. Many shops were closed from the afternoon of the 9th to the next morning in Salah e-Din, the main shopping street in East Jerusalem. Many others in the old city, the famous touristic place, were also closed.

The news on the shaheed may have been distributed in the city, and some shops have just followed others. However, it was unusual scenery that all the Palestinian shops closed their shutters in East Jerusalem. It was so quiet but filled with tension.

After the shooting incident, a number of conflicts occurred in Silwan and Al Ram, where the family of the criminal lived. The Israeli military investigated many places, and the 17-year-old daughter of the criminal and his father were arrested. Young people attacked the military vehicles by throwing stones, while soldiers arrested them by launching tear-gas bombs.

It is easy to say that, “One is against violence.” However, I am sometimes overwhelmed by the endless cycle of violence. JVC aims at improving the resilience of people living here. We wish young people in East Jerusalem could have a better chance to live with self-respect, not relying on violence. The objective is critical, yet the finish line is far ahead.

Here is a society in which young boys are pleased when learning somebody who killed somebody. The situation is hard to improve, but we have a partner, a Palestinian NGO, which wishes to change society and acts in that direction. I have pledged to myself to continue working steadily by exchanging ideas with them. I will continue to write reports of young people I meet in my project area.

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