Yousef, habibi, you are gone.....why you became another of the invisible victims of this stupid, unfair occupation? Mohamed your 14 year old brother was arrested in front of my eyes, without me being able to do anything. I wish it was me who was arrested, but it was him and he spent three months in jail for throwing the so called stones that israelis use as an excuse to arrest young Palestinians. I'm sorry that I could not do anything for you or for your brother.....I AM SORRY, HABIBI, I AM SORRY!!! Johanna
I still recall about two months ago,when I was in Beit Ommar. We were attacked with tear gas and sound bombs, by the Israeli military, for demonstrating peacefully against the Israeli occupation and the illegal confiscation of Beit Ommar’s land. I was there, with many other Palestinians and Israelis, that week, like other weeks with their bodies as their only weapon, trying stand for justice.
Beit Ommar is village, south of Bethlehem. The people of Beit Ommar, young and old, still stand and still struggle, every day, every hour, every minute. As did Yousef Fahkri Ikhlayl, a 17 year old Palestinian, until January 28 when he was shot dead in the head by Israeli settlers of Bet Ayn. Today, another innocent young Palestinian adds to the victims of the occupation. But Yousef was not the only victim. This is the second settler attack with live ammunition on Palestinians in as many days. On January 27th, Uday Maher Qadous was shot by settlers while farming his land in the village of Iraq Brin, near Nablus.
The Israeli media just mentioned the event, saying that the settlers were hiking when they were attacked by Palestinians with stones. Then, of course, they had the right to self defense, but with M16’s. Contrary to claims by the Israeli Military of “clashes” in Beit Ommar and Saffa between Israeli settlers and Palestinian resident, in reality Yousef was murdered while working on his family’s fields with his father.
Bekah Wolf, American citizen who worked with Yousef in the Center for Freedom and Justice in Beit Ommar said:‘Yousef was a kid who hoped for a better future for Palestine. His life was ended prematurely by right-wing extremists. People around the world should be outraged by his shooting, and should work to bring his attackers to justice. “
Yousef worked on initiatives with the Palestine Solidarity Project, an anti-occupation organization in Beit Ommar. In the summer of 2010, Yousef attended the Center for Freedom and Justice’s Freedom Flotilla Summer Camp where he engaged in educational projects, community service, and unarmed demonstrations against the Israeli occupation. In the fall of 2010 Yousef was a participant in a youth photography class also sponsored by the center. So he was not just another kid who threw stones.
If this happened in the US, a democracy, the perpetrators would be detained, investigated and prosecuted according to the law, for homicide, but not in Israel. The military was sent to escort the settlers instead of detaining the responsible of the killing. On top of that they attacked the thousands that came to pay respects in Yousef’s funeral with live bullets, tear gas and sound bombs.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on the killing of Yousef, but did not even mention his name, as if it was not important. The report was accompanied by a picture of Palestinian in East Jerusalem throwing stones, instead of settlers holding guns. It also had statements from Kiryat Arba's council chief Malachi Levinger reiterating claims that the settlers were attacked while hiking in the area, and emphasized what he called as the "right of Jews to travel their country." also adding that “We call upon the IDF and the police to aid the defense of this right and to seek the guilty parties within the rioters not within the travelers who acted in self defense," Levinger added.
Their country according to whom? At least not according to international law. There is consensus among the international community that the settlements on the West Bank are a violation of international law and the occupation is illegal. All of the farmers from the Saffa village have documents proving their ownership of the land, and have been working on the land without military interference for decades.
Bet Ayn is one of over 200 Israeli settlements within the West Bank. Today more than 1,000 settlers from Bet Ayn live on land that was used for centuries by Palestinian families. Residents of Bet Ayn have a long history of violence. They frequently attack neighboring residents of Palestinian villages and destroy their sources of income. The primary reason behind this campaign of terror and destruction is an attempt to deter local Palestinian farmers from farming their land to facilitate the annexation of the land by the Israeli military for further settlement expansion.
But Yousef’s death has reached the international community. Throughout the past week, supporters around the world honored Yousel in Jaffa, Chicago and San Francisco. Finally, the world is awakening.