Hours after 14-year-old Mohammed Ades was shot on Tuesday night, bloodstains remained near the entrance of his family's house in the central city of Jaljulya.
His death comes amid an uptick in cases of gun violence in the Arab community that has prompted a wave of protests calling on the authorities to tackle the issue.
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"What did the boy do to deserve this?" Mohammed's grandfather asked. "They say Israel is a free and democratic place, but I can’t sleep at night in peace in my house."
The teenager was pronounced dead shortly after being taken to Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava on Tuesday night. A 12-year-old, Mustafa Hamid, who was with him at the time of the shooting, suffered multiple gunshot wounds. He underwent surgery at the hospital and is still in very serious condition.
Small children, along with relatives and neighbors of Mohammed who came to pay their respects to the family on Wednesday, pointed at the bloodstains. The boy’s father, Abdelrazek Ades, told Haaretz that although this is not a rare occurence for the children, it was the first time it involved one of their own.
Just last week, the cabinet approved a plan to combat the surging violence and crime in the Israeli Arab community.
“Everyone is living in fear,” said Mufid Shawahana, a friend of the Ades family who came to pay his condolences at the improvised mourning tent set up in front of the entrance to the family’s home, near a junior high school. The children, he said, understand the situation. “They aren’t even safe near their homes. They’re killing us. The children say their afraid to go to school.”
Mohammed’s father told Haaretz that on Tuesday most of the children in his extended family were at home, but Mohammed and his friend Mustafa had ordered pizza and went to sit outside to eat it.
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“I heard shooting and quickly went out,” he recounted. “I saw that Mohammed’s friend had been injured. I lifted him up. I gave him water and performed resuscitation on him for a considerable time.”
Abdelrazek Ades paused and then continued. “All of a sudden, I wondered where Mohammed was. Where’s my boy? We couldn’t find him and then we saw him lying on the ground behind a car. We hadn’t seen him for half an hour to an hour, and the boy was gone. He died in my arms. We don’t know who shot him. His friends are calling all the time. He loved people, and everyone loved him.” Those who came to pay their respects talked about how diligent and hard working Mohammed was.
Police Maj. Gen. Jamal Hakroosh, who heads the police unit in charge of improving services to the Arab community issued a press release Wednesday stating that the police know the identity of the two suspects whom they believe carried out the shooting and that it was only a matter of time before they are apprehended.
The police are pursuing two possible directions – that it was the result of a dispute between families and that Mohammed and not his friend was the target of the gunman, or that it involved a dispute between two groups of young people in the neighborhood. Mohammed’s father insists that neither his son nor his family were involved in any dispute. “He would have told me everything. My son was killed just like that. I don’t know why,” he said tearfully. “They shot him and fled. There’s a police station 30 meters [100 feet] from here, but whoever came here didn’t give a damn. After the boy died, 100 police officers arrived. What could they do at that point?”
Chief Superintendent Asaf Doron, the commander of the Kafr Qasem police station, came to speak to the family early Wednesday morning. “There will be justice. I can’t tell you everything … but there will be justice,” he told Mohammed’s grandfather.
Shortly before the teen’s funeral on Wednesday, hundreds of people, including a large number of women and children and a number of Jewish Israelis who came to show solidarity, demonstrated on Jaljulya’s main street.
Many of the protesters were students from Mohammed’s school, including two student council members, Shahed Odeh and Kiyan Abu Ria, who expressed concern that what happened to Mohammed could happen to any of them. The protesters blocked the road for about 20 minutes, but the police did not intervene. Jaljulya Mayor Darwish Rabi called for continued public pressure on the police to bring the perpetrators of the shooting to justice.
Mohammed Ades had two sisters and two brothers. One of them, Osama, was circulating among visitors in the mourning tent. “I can’t talk. I can barely stand,” he said to anyone approaching him.
“Our heart has been taken from our body,” Mohammed’s uncle Sami Ades said in trying to describe what the family was going through. “The boy died like a mouse,” he said. “Thirty years ago, it wasn’t like this. Only the police can stop this.”
“Mohammed was first in his class. During breaks from school, he would go work to pay for his studies himself in the future,” the uncle added.
“There’s no dispute here between families. There’s no revenge. There’s nothing,” another relative said in anger. “A 14-year-old boy goes out to eat pizza and doesn’t return home.”