The face of Mustafa Tamimi was a frightful yellow. A piece of cotton covered his crushed eye, where the gas grenade fired at him from only a few meters away hit him in the skull; the other eye was closed forever. He was carried to his grave by his friends, his body wrapped in the Palestinian national flag, with only his unshaven face visible.
For over two months there had been no Palestinians killed by soldiers in the West Bank, an eternity in occupation terms. But Friday added this unnecessary killing, of a demonstrator throwing rocks at a well-armored jeep by a soldier who violated the rules of engagement and fired the metal grenade at the 27-year-old's head.
The pictures don't lie. One moment Tamimi is seen throwing a rock at the back end of the jeep, and the next moment the back door of the jeep opens a crack, the grenade launcher is thrust out, and it fires the lethal grenade.
A cold wind whipped through the village of Nabi Saleh, one of the villages at which the as-nonviolent-as-possible demonstrations take place every Friday. This past Friday the demonstration was larger than usual, as the village was marking the second anniversary of their demonstrations against the appropriation of their land for the settlement of Halamish.
Mustafa was one of the leaders of the struggle; less than a year ago he was arrested with three of his brothers, one of whom, Oudai, was sentenced to nine months in prison. He was meant to be released on Thursday, and the Israel Defense Forces, which killed Mustafa, refused to release Oudai four days early so that he could attend his brother's funeral.
Mustafa's father, Abdul Razak, was due to undergo his regular dialysis treatment Sunday at the hospital in Salfit. He was not immediately told of his son's death, because his family wanted to make sure he went to dialysis as usual. Only afterward was he told the bitter news.
The funeral slowly made its way from Mustafa's house to the mosque, where the funeral prayers were said. Along with the keening women and sobbing young people from the village, there were more than a few Israelis who came in a noteworthy show of solidarity.
These members of Anarchists Against the Wall and other radical leftist groups knew Mustafa well; his home had often been theirs over these years of stubborn demonstrations.
Sarit Michaeli, the spokeswoman for the human rights group B'Tselem, who participated in Mustafa's last demonstration, said it was routine for the IDF to launch smoke grenades at demonstrators at close range. Mustafa's bad luck is that the grenade hit him in the head.
Shortly after the funeral, there were sounds of explosions from the valley. IDF and Border Police forces were again launching gas grenades at the young people throwing stones at the roadblock.
Soon the "skunk gun" went into operation, emiting a discernible stench - the stench of the occupier and the occupation, a stench that stayed with me long after I left the bereaved village.
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