“My father was not a fighter. He was not armed. The [Israeli] soldiers took him from our house and tortured him without any mercy, they killed him and gave us his body, my brothers and I are orphans now. Where is the international conscience, where is the United Nations that puts the victim and the attacker on the same scale? My father was a peaceful man supporting his six children.”
With these words, Mustafa Husny Fayid, 13, started talking about the tragedy that beset his family when the Israeli army carried out the Jenin refugee camp massacre in 2002, during an invasion that Israel calls “Operation Defensive Shield”.
Five years after the massacre, the child was finally able to talk about what happened when he was seven. He expressed his anger that “the world is still unable to stop the Israeli atrocities”.
“The world is talking about justice, peace and human rights but when it comes to us, and to what Israel is doing to us, they change their concepts and principles. We are refugees dreaming of a stable life, a country and a humble home”, Mustafa stated, “Where is the world justice, were is the international law, how come the committee set up to investigate the massacre in our camp was never allowed to be formed? They should come here and see how we are living, and the destruction inflicted on us and on our future. The occupation is the cause of all our problems, but nobody wants to see the truth, they want us to be silent”.
The misery of the child and his family started when the Israeli army invaded the camp in April 2002. “When the army invaded the camp, soldiers started occupying homes and started ambushing the fighters, then they started shelling all the houses after totally surrounding the camp”, Mustafa said, “Everything became dangerous, danger was all around us. We were hiding in one room for a whole week, while planes and tanks were firing shells and missiles at the whole camp. We lived in fear and my younger brothers never stopped crying the whole time. My father asked us not to be afraid, and he read us verses of the holy Quran”.
At that, Mustafa stopped talking for a while. His eyes were filled with tears as he looked at his fathers’ picture hanging on the wall. Finally he continued, “Several days after the invasion began, we knew that the soldiers had the whole camp surrounded, and that the invasion was getting more violent and fierce. Then the shelling intensified and the soldiers shelled the mosque near our house”.
The next morning, the army started advancing into the camp, and the soldiers started knocking on the doors ordering all men to leave the houses and surrender themselves to them.
“We heard violent knocking on our door, and we became so scared. My father opened the door and saw more than 30 military jeeps outside on the street. The soldiers then broke into our house and started searching it, they stepped with their dirty feet on the bread, and started breaking the dishes, smashing the windows and then they started hitting my father violently before taking him to the yard, we heard him screaming from the pain, before they took him away”.
According to other eyewitness accounts, Mustafa’s father was used as a human shield by the soldiers, who forced him to knock on the doors of neighboring houses before they broke into them and abducted the inhabitants.
“Later on, the soldiers returned. They had my father and my uncle, and locked them in a small room in our house. The soldiers saw drawings that my kid brothers had painted on the wall in our house, maps of Palestine and other drawings, and the soldiers were angry and said that those drawings are maps for the fighters to escape and started hitting my father on his head”, Mustafa added.
“They were violently hitting my father on his head, and were screaming and shouting at him, he started bleeding and they took him out in spite of his injuries and pain”.
Eyewitnesses told Mustafa that they saw the soldiers torturing his father as they were taking him to an armored vehicle, then they transferred him to a location where the soldiers gathered with their vehicles. According to local accounts, Israeli troops took dozens of residents to the temporary camp where Mustafa saw them taking his father.
There, the soldiers tortured and interrogated the men. At one point, according to eyewitnesses, Mustafa’s father pleaded to be taken to a hospital, but the soldiers refused to provide him with any medical treatment.
Later on, soldiers took the man to an unknown destination; some residents said that they saw him at a Civil Administration Office which belongs to the Israeli army. The residents said that they heard him screaming, and then he stopped.
“He wasn’t breathing, and the people told me when that happened they started shouting at the soldiers, he is dead, the man is dead”, Mustafa said, “Then the soldiers gave him first aid and took him to a hospital, after that we never knew where he was”.
“We were told by the army that my father was at Al Foula Israeli hospital, but when we phoned the hospital, they told us that he was not there, we contacted the Red Crescent and the Red Cross and they told us that the soldiers took my father to Ofer prison. We searched for him for three months”.
“The Prisoners Society, the Red Crescent and several organizations helped in the effort to locate my father. They were informed by the army that my father was taken prisoner, but when medical institutions and the lawyer of the prisoners’ society contacted the army officers, they said that his name was not among the list of detainees”.
Different stories regarding the destiny of Mustafa’s dad increased the worries of his family, and three months later, after extensive efforts by the family and several institutions, the army admitted that the father was dead.
“We lived through tough times, as the army was waging its cruel war against the camp, against us, we were unable to hide our fears, our tears, my little brothers and I were crying day and night”. Mustafa stated.
But when the news finally arrived about the whereabouts of the father, it was shocking to know the truth, that he was a dead body at Abu Kbeer Israeli morgue. When the army handed the body of the father to his family, their grief was even greater, it was in a closed coffin.
Nobody was allowed to see him because his body was severely mutilated and deformed. And now, five years after his father was killed, Mustafa is speaking.
“I insist that those responsible for his death should be prosecuted, I appeal to the international organizations to adopt the case of my father and file charges against the Israeli army, I want to know how did he die in their prisons, he left the house on his feat, and return to us a dead body, they took him away from us, forever”.