He was a premature baby when his mother was in the seventh month of pregnancy. When he was finally released from the hospital he still suffered from jaundice. In second grade, a passing car hit him after he played at the neighbors’ house. He was thrown in the air by the force of the blow from the car, and after two days in the hospital he was released. He loved to play on his Playstation and learned how to type quickly, and sometimes even typed in the dark. At 16 he began to feel grown up and rebel against his mother’s wishes. He loved her very much.
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A month ago, when his father heard he was in the hospital, his legs collapsed. On the way to the hospital he said time after time: “O God, have mercy on us.”
I have hope that these days, when so many people’s hearts are filled with worry, love and identification with the fate of the three youths they never knew, in these days when our hearts go out to the suffering families, that these days will be a time of aspiration and not of hatred. A time of hope for the fate of the families and the young men we never knew; for families, some of whose loved ones no longer even have a tiny bit of hope.
The premature baby who was born to a Palestinian family in Ramallah, who knew how to type in the dark, who was shy and innocent, who would kiss his parents every time he returned home, who God did not have mercy on his parents, was Nadim Nuwara of blessed memory. He was 17 years old when a member of the Israeli security forces shot him at the Nakba Day demonstration in Beitunia. An hour later another youth was shot, Mohammad Salameh, at the very same place.
No Facebook campaign will return the youths Nadim and Mohammad to their parents, the Palestinians do not have an army to conduct house to house searches, and according to the Oslo Accords they don’t even have investigative authority.
These days Jews in Israel and in the territories are very attentive, in the great spirit of mutual responsibility, to the horrible suffering of three families hanging between despair and hope, and if only that hope could win. But what responsibility is this, what hope is this, and what humanity is this if it is so completely blind to the Palestinian suffering?
A great majority of the time, for most of the Jews here, the Palestinian suffering is completely denied. When it is not documented on video it interests almost no one, and when it is documented it is repressed as a conspiracy. What significance is there to the display of mutual responsibility of these days if when they see the Palestinian baby who survived a premature birth and a car accident, but did not survive a live bullet fired at his upper body, in light of the documentation of his death we do not become angry and give our hearts out to him and his family; and instead we ask with estranged cynicism and in arrogant contempt: “Why don’t they show us what happened earlier?”
What happened before is that Nadim Nawara was born a premature baby, and survived a premature birth and an automobile accident, but did not survive the occupation. What happened before is tens, hundreds and thousands of Palestinians that Israel has killed. It is the theft of property and the stealing of land. It is roadblocks and control and permits and searches and orders, and an entire mechanism that under the cover of the big lie of temporariness built an entire system in which the members of one people have determined for almost 50 years the fate of another people: They arrest them, steal from them, question them, judge them and sometimes kill them.
His name was Nadim Nawara and he grew up and had his own political opinion and went out to demonstrate and died in Beitunia in the Nakba Day protest on May 15, 2014. He survived a premature birth and a car accident, but did not survive the occupation.
Hagai El-Ad is the executive director of B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.