Updated: Sep 27
Mohammad Fayez Balhan محمد فايز بلهان
15 years-old, from Aqabat Jaber refugee camp.
Design: Lahav Halevy
Mohammad’s father has been working at kibbutz Almog’s gas station for the past 25 years. He has good ties with the kibbutz members and brought his son with him to the kibbutz at times. There are quite a few photographs of this. Two days before the horrible event he bought Mohammad a motorcycle. A new one. Mohammad’s dream.
Monday morning. Faez comes out of the gas station and goes to the refugee camp to get his son to help him with a group of tourists who wished to go out on a camel trip. It was Ramadan – fasting month – and Mohammad was fasting. His choice. Faez comes close to the house and sees a group of soldiers there. They tell him passage is forbidden. He waits in the corner. He sees a group of boys throwing stones at the soldiers. The soldiers respond with live fire.
Faez: “I saw one of the boys get hit at the side of his body. Suddenly another boy comes running and says they shot someone. I ran. Then I saw Mohammad lying on the ground. I lift him and he manages to say ‘Daddy, daddy…’ and dies in my hands.”
Special forces had entered the camp that morning. They planned to arrest a group suspected of planning a terrorist attack. The soldiers ran into resistance: thrown stones, fire bombs and improvised explosive charges. According to them, they opened indiscriminate live fire and Ruger bullets.
The video documenting the incident shows several boys throwing stones. Mohammad is seen running from his house, relatively far from the soldiers. The stone throwers are between him and the soldiers. It does not look as though he is carrying anything. He was shot in the belly, the head and the leg. The video shows him collapsing. No one noticed him at first. As soon as he is noticed, a large group runs towards him, including his father. According to the Israeli army spokesperson, he tried to throw a fire bomb.
In the evening, a girl-soldier is interviewed on Israeli television, reporting their mission enthusiastically. Patriotically. Naturally she says nothing of the dead boy. Or of the wounded.
Faez’s bosses offer help, and he requests a down payment on his salary in order to bury his son. They agree. But then several kibbutz members turn to Israeli TV Channel 14, and it begins a campaign depicting the kibbutz as supporting terrorism. The talkbacks are filled with hate. Confrontations ensue among the members, and everyone calls Mohammad a terrorist. No one bothers to look at the videos or remember the boy who used to visit their kibbutz, or his father who felt at home there. Faez: “I was angry when they called my child a terrorist. They knew him. They know it’s not true.” He is burning Mohammad’s new motorcycle. He cannot look at it.
A 15-year-old, 3 bullets: in the head, the belly, the leg. Shoot to kill.
The 18th minor killed in 3 and a half months (how many a month?)
Sources: Nir Hasson’s report in Haaretz, DCI-P, Wafa News Agency.
Poster design: Lahav Halevy.