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Neighbors

Neighbors

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Published by Toine Van Teeffelen
A diary of January 2013, about the killing of youth from Bethlehem.
A diary of January 2013, about the killing of youth from Bethlehem.

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Published by: Toine Van Teeffelen on Jan 25, 2013
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11/02/2014

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Neighbors
Toine van Teeffelen January 2013
Mary feels pain, a pressure on her breast. She asks herself if it is because of her feelings for two young people killed this week: the 15-year-old boy Salehfrom the refugee camp ‘Azza opposite our house, and 22-year old Lubnafrom Bethlehem.While the media lamp lights are focused on the Israeli elections, these arethe “small” things that happen in the shadow of the news. Four young peoplekilled in the West Bank in less than one week. In front of our house we hearthe slogans of demonstrators, now already for three days in a row.Mary tells me, “
Haram
[have pity] for the boy, why don’t you go and visit thefamily?” In fact, I do not often go to pay condolences for persons whom I donot know, but the circumstances of the boy’s death were terrible, and afterall, the refugees from ‘Azza are our neighbors. (Neighbors are persons livingin a circle of, let’s say, 100 meter around one’s house).I walk a hundred meter into the camp. ‘Azza is the smallest camp in the WestBank, with some 2000 people. It is completely enclosed by Bethlehem town.Mary knows the
sheikh
who leads the prayers in the mosque. He used todrive her home when she had to carry vegetables and fruits from a shopowned by somebody from the camp, Jibrin. (Recently I was in the shop andexperienced quite a quarrel between customers and owner about the sharplyrising prices of vegetables. The owner gave me for once a discountapparently because he wanted to show that he cared for his customers).While walking into the camp I see on all houses the poster with a photo of the boy, his face fresh-looking and a
kefiyeh
[head scarf] on the background,the national symbol. In the hall the men are assembled, chairs are alsooutside. There is a three-day mourning period usual among Moslems, asamong the Christians. Visitors pass by to shake hands of the relatives anddrink a cup of bitter Arabic coffee. The father comes and sits next to me.He looks resigned, is quiet but wants to speak. Saleh was his only son. Hewas mad about soccer and therefore the father had sent him to a sportsschool. “Why did the soldiers shoot him? Did he carry an M 16, was he in a F16 fighter jet? Even if he had thrown stones, why do they shoot to kill?”

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