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
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 swearing? 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 your whole 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 downstairs.
My wife told me later, they told her, get clothes for your son. Suhayeb
said, what do you want? 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
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
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 away. I saw him being taken
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
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
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
Translated by Tal Haran