A young Palestinian’s story shows peace is still possible.
By Yousef Bashir | The New York Times | Apr 26, 2019
I wish we could talk. I would tell him that I want to do my part to make peace between our peoples more possible, the way my father taught me. I would tell him that I have forgiven him.
I was born and raised in the Gaza Strip. For years, my “neighbors” were Israeli soldiers based in the Kfar Darom settlement across the road from my house. Although the settlement was illegally established, my father taught me never to feel hostility toward the soldiers. They were the children of Abraham, as were we Palestinians.
But in September 2000, when I was 11 years old, all that changed. One night after dinner, the soldiers started shooting at our kitchen windows. As we crawled to the center of the house, I could see the bullets ricocheting around me.
Soon after, the soldiers told my father that it was time for him to leave. They wanted to use our house as a command center. My father politely but firmly refused: “I am a peaceful man. I am not your enemy. There is no need for me to leave. If it is not safe for us in our own home, then it will not be safe for us anywhere.”
As punishment for refusing to go, the soldiers made us their virtual prisoners. They took over the second and third floors, and the rooftop. My family — my grandmother, my parents and eight of us children — were no longer allowed to go upstairs or into our backyard. We were told that anyone who broke the rules would be shot. At night we were often locked in the living room; sometimes we were kept there for a week or two at a time. When we needed to use the bathroom, we had to be accompanied by a soldier.