Rami Elhanan - "Replacing Pain with Hope"
My personal story begins and ends on the particular day of Yom Kippur:
My name is Jihad Zghayar, I live in Idhna, in the Hebron Governorate. I am 44 years old, a father to four children.
One night, during the month of the blessed Ramadan, 2014, after the “Iftar”, the meal that ends the fast, my son Alaa and his uncle (my brother) went to visit Alaa’s grandmother who lives close to our home. It was quiet that day, there were no confrontations or protests. As they walked, the Occupation soldiers saw them and addressed them, but Alaa and his uncle don’t speak or understand Hebrew so they kept walking.
Without any warning or reason, the soldiers opened fire on Alaa. An expanding bullet exploded in his stomach. Alaa instantly collapsed and was taken to the hospital in Hebron. He was severely wounded, but his willpower and determination to live were strong. He was in the hospital for nine days, during each of which his mother and I died a thousand times and prayed that he would live, but sadly he passed away on the ninth day.
Alaa departed this life in the spring of his youth, at 21 years old. He was congenial, he loved his fellow man, he was friendly and kind. Everyone who knew him loved him. Alaa used to help everybody and never hurt anyone in his life. He was athletic, he was always wary of his appearance and his mother and I were very proud of him and wished him a bright future.
Alaa was not just my son, he was my friend. We shared worries and pain, we planned the future together and when he graduated from school, he worked to help the family.
My beloved son Alaa, your absence forms a common thread with the pain. The pain of longing and yearning, the pain of the dreadful loss for which there is no cure but patience.
Alaa departed, our hopes departed and our dreams faded. Our lives changed completely and I felt this intense rage and hatred after the Occupation killed my innocent son for no reason. His only sin – he was a Palestinian.
I wanted to do something, take revenge perhaps on whoever killed my son, but I know that revenge won’t bring Alaa back.
I heard about the Forum of Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace from a friend who invited me to attend one of the sessions. At first I encountered the other side with vast hesitation, but I saw people suffering pain and loss just like me and I was convinced that the Occupation is the main cause of pain on both sides. I believe in the Forum’s message of humanity, in reconciliation, in getting to know the other. If not for the Occupation, there would be no victims on both sides. Hence, the Occupation must end so we can live free and with dignity.
When will the dawn of freedom and justice break that will bring peace to this blessed land?