A Little Girl Called Abir
It is difficult to imagine the sense of loss and bitterness that has been eternally engraved in the heart and mind of Abir’s parents. She is a ten year-old Palestinian girl from Al-Salam neighbourhood in east Jerusalem, who died yesterday as a result of the fatal wounds she sustained to the head at the hands of the Israeli army earlier this week. Abir’s name means “fragrance” in Arabic, and her neighbourhood means “peace.” Her legacy, unmistakably universal, will always be acknowledged as “an innocent victim of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.”
Abir was injured outside her school in the area of Anata when Israeli border police opened fire and unleashed terror on a group of school children peacefully protesting the construction of Israel’s Annexation Wall in the area, ironically created to “prevent the killing of innocent Israelis.” She suddenly fell to the ground as a result of fractures to her skull when the troops threw stun grenades close to her small and fragile body. She was rushed to hospital, but efforts to save her innocent life came to no avail.
Abir is one of 955 children below the age of 18 killed by Israeli military forces since September 2000; the lives of her parents have become another tragedy among thousands of Palestinian families who will forever long for the lost smile of their loved ones; the freshness of their Abirs.
The slogan “end the occupation” has come to represent more than merely a political stance, or even a legal right. Ending Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, Palestinian cities, towns, villages, refugee camps, and Palestinian lives essentially and desperately appeals for the minimal right to live without the potential threat of getting shot, getting injured, getting arrested; it means appealing for the right to send our children to their schools or playgrounds without the horrific possibility of marching in their funerals the next day, or spending agonising sleepless nights while they languish in prison, or lay in a hospital bed struggling to keep their lives.
I wonder, honestly, about the apathy of the world towards the suffering of the Palestinians. I also wonder about the humanity of Israeli society, of Jewish society. Isn’t there enough logic and reason to believe that Israeli society has become what it fears most: a silent observer to the slaughtering of innocents, equal in form to the silence of the world before its own suffering at the hands of fascism? This is absurd; this is shameful.
No article, no essay, not even an infinite book documenting Israel’s violation of the most basic human rights can convey even one ounce of the pain Abir’s parents have been sentenced to endure for the rest of their scentless lives.
Rami Bathish is director of the Media and Information Programme at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org