Friday, August 3, 2012

PCHR: Occupied Lives – He just wanted a better life

August 2, 20120 comments
Column
Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
01/08/2012

Mohamed Abu Muelieq (17) was killed by Israeli forces on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 near Mossadar village, which is on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Mohamed, and his friends Youssef Altelbani (19) and Mahmoud Alodat (18), were trying to cross over the border fence to search for jobs in Israel when they were attacked. Of the 3 boys, only 1, Mahmoud Alodat survived the attack. He sustained shrapnel injuries to his right leg and was forced to lie in the border area until the shelling stopped. He then crawled to one of the nearby houses, which took him approximately one hour, before he was rushed to the hospital.
Mohamed’s father, Bassam Abu Muelieq (45), recounts the events surrounding his son’s death: “On the day of his death, I had an argument with Mohamed and he left the house saying that he was going to visit a friend. A few minutes later, one of my son’s friends came and told me that Mohamed and 2 of his friends were on their way to try and jump the border fence.”
Bassam’s house is just 800 meters from the fence: “I rushed outside the house and looked towards the border. I saw the IDF firing and shelling. There were drones all over the border area and it had completely transformed into a military zone. There was continuous firing and shelling. I helplessly stood outside the house and watched. I knew that if I tried to go there, I would be killed. As I watched, I kept hoping to myself that my son would just be injured, not killed.”
Bassam had to wait until the following day to hear what happened to his son. At 10:00, he received word that ICRC vehicles were looking for bodies near the border: “I could not recognize my son when I viewed the body. His face was completely deformed and I could just see bones. I only knew it was him when I saw the sandals the two of us shared on his feet. I was devastated. Later on, I found out that when the firing began, the boys were shouting and surrendering hoping to be spared, but they were shot and shelled to the ground. This area was well lit with flood lights, and the soldiers must have seen that these boys were unarmed. They have cameras for that; they surely must have seen that they were harmless.”
Bassam is unemployed and relies on casual labor employment to get money for his family. He attributes his son’s decision to try and jump over the fence to this abject poverty: “The conditions we live in are very bad. I used to work in Israel, but here in Gaza, I have no employment. My son had to drop out of school to try and look for work. He just wanted a better life. He constantly talked about building a house and starting a family, and maybe buying a motorbike and some new clothes. He sometimes made 20 shekels a week working on other people’s farms and construction sites, but that wasn’t enough. He had heard that the conditions in Israel were better, and he thought that it would be easier for him to get a job there. He had hoped that by jumping the fence, he would leave all this poverty behind and have a better life.”
Mohamed’s death has deeply affected Bassam and his family: “Mohamed was very talkative. Now the house is quiet and everyone is in shock. His younger brother and sister miss him very much. Even if they compensate me for my son’s death, it does not change the fact that he is gone. It does not change how quiet my wife has become, thinking about him all the time. What can you even do with such money? Our children are now the ones paying the price for the bad economic conditions in Gaza. All we want is peace and a chance to improve the economy and the future of the children of Gaza.”
In the month of June 2012, 16 children were injured and 2 were killed, including Mohamed, during Israel’s various attacks on the Gaza Strip. The targeting and killing of a child, a protected civilian, is a war crime, as codified in Articles 8(2)(a)(i) and 8(2)(b)(i) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
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