Today (on my birthday) we went with Beit Hanoun ‘Local Initiative’ volunteers to retrieve the long-decomposed body of a man who didn’t live to see his own 19th birthday.
Ahmed Abu Hashih disappeared on April 21st. His family believed that he had been killed somewhere in the north-eastern border region, the “Israeli”-imposed ‘buffer zone’ where Zionist soldiers routinely shoot at Palestinian farmers and residents. Since then, his parents and others have searched, unsuccessfully, for his body, fearing the worst.
Sixteen of us (family, local rights activists and volunteers from Beit Hanoun, and international accompaniment ) set out this morning to comb the land for the missing youth. The terrain is dry weeds and tall, prickly scrub, making walking difficult.
We accompanied the father -Abu Ayesh- and a local who knew the area well, filming and attempting to convey to the soldiers shooting at us from jeeps that we had come to retrieve a corpse.
The shooting, along with 2 loud explosions, likely sound grenades, became more intense and closer when the body was actually spotted and the team started to load it onto a white sheet. As we quickly loaded Ahmed Abu Hashish onto his cloth stretcher, the shooting continued.
Abu Ayesh had been further off, and thankfully missed the scene of his son’s body, 54 days decomposed, falling apart, head falling off.
Nearly 2 months after his death, the anguish of the Ahmed Abu Hashish family is great, his body desecrated by the elements, they denied access to it due to the threat of being shot by “Israeli” soldiers at the border –who indeed did shoot when we retrieved the body.
He was a Bedouin youth, poor family, probably wanted to try to cross into occupied Palestine to look for work. “Hua zift min el dinnia,” –he was worn down by this life.
The exact circumstances of his death are yet unknown, but it can be assumed that Ahmed Abu Hashish died from gunshot wounds, from Zionist soldiers at the border hundreds of metres off.
As we returned with his dead son, Abu Ayesh cried out, uttering phrases of grief and mourning. Soon after reaching the road, a donkey cart arrived to take away the corpse. At the same time, Ayesh, Ahmed’s brother, arrived, dropping his motorbike, and began to wail his sorrow in a high-pitched shriek.
ISM-Gaza Strip footage