09:00 We left from the Rosh Ha’ayin train station.
Nothing unusual. Two IDF jeeps parked in the lot. One soldier at the bus stop and another in the guard tower.
We came because of a report of a confrontation (the second in three weeks) between settlers from Aish Kodesh and villagers. We hear details at the municipality: The confrontation developed after one (!) farmer and one (!) shepherd, village residents, went to work on land near Aish Kodesh. Ten armed settlers came out and attacked them. The villagers, already organized as a civil defense group and ready to respond quickly, immediately came to their aid. Like in a script prepared in advance, soldiers followed the settlers. Claiming the villagers had attacked them, the soldiers began firing tear gas and then live ammunition. Were the shooters soldiers or armed settlers? It’s not clear.
A number of villagers were injured by the tear gas; two others were shot and hospitalized…
Two representatives of the International Red Cross who’d come to investigate the incident entered the office. They’re part of a team based in Nablus that directs the organization’s activities in the area south of Nablus. They say they’re involved in providing medical assistance, helping people at the checkpoints and investigating violent attacks on Palestinians. That’s why they’ve come to Qusra, and they’re preparing to accompany the head of the municipality to the location where the incident occurred. We ask to join them but are refused. According to their procedures, outsiders are not permitted to be present during their investigations.
Hussein Dawwabsha, the grandfather, arrives in Qusra after participating in a ceremony at the start of the school year in Jurish, in which schoolgirls prayed for the recovery of his daughter Riham, who was their teacher. We drive with him to his village, Duma.
At the entrance to the village, a prologue to the arson event in the village is visible: a long row of burned olive trees along the road to the village.
Earlier this morning the grandfather participated in a ceremony naming the Duma school for Ali, his grandson, the infant burned to death in the arson incident. As if the Dawwabsha family had not suffered enough, the night before we came to Duma, at about 3 AM, the house of Rashid Dawwabsha also was burned - the brother of Sa’ad, the father who’d died of burns when the doctors at Soroka hospital weren’t able to save his life. Rashid was in Tel Aviv at the time; his wife rescued the children from the burning building. They were hospitalized in Nablus for smoke inhalation and returned home after treatment. One room of their home was completely burned.
Today there’s a small article in “Israel Today” about the arson which states: “Even though sources in the Palestinian Authority initially accused the settlers, villagers admitted that apparently the fire was caused by an electrical short circuit.” Who, exactly, are the sources used by the “Israel Today” journalists? What did they learn that we hadn’t after speaking to villagers not long after the incident? Why did the villagers not even hint of this evasive explanation???
We accompany Hussein to the burned-down house. He said it had been his home, where he raised his children, where Riham grew up. After the wedding he gave her the house and moved to another house. The sight is shocking. The entire house and all its contents have been burned. The charred remains of a bicycle and a stroller make manifest the tragedy.
A house next door was also set afire that night. Flames filled the ground floor. Family members who were asleep on the floor above succeeded in escaping. The Jewish terrorists apparently had enough time and felt sufficiently sure of themselves to leave a souvenir behind – a graffiti, “Long live the Messiah, the King,” – sprayed on the wall between the two burned structures.
We take on a project, to return Hussein to Tel Hashomer hospital where, since the catastrophe, he’s sat beside his young grandson, Ahmad. Though Hussein received a permit to enter and be in Israel, he’s allowed to enter only via Qalqilya, through the Eyal checkpoint.
13:00 Eyal checkpoint
We part from Nadim in Rosh Ha’ayin and drive to Eyal. It’s calm. A few people enter on their way to the West Bank, and even fewer leave at this hour for Israel. A security staffer approaches us, asks who we are, and leaves. Hussein arrives; it turns out they’d given him no problems. We all continue to Tel Hashomer. The physician there tells him his daughter’s bleak prognosis, but adds: “We’re not giving up, we’re doing all we can to keep them alive.”
Thus ended our shift. It had been a difficult day.