My name is Achlas Ashtaya and I live in the village of Salem in the Nablus District
Moira Jilani - "I Came Back to Palestine and Lost Ziad"
I met Ziad, my former Palestinian husband, in Texas. We were married in 1992, during the Oslo Accords, and following the failure of the talks, we saw the second Palestinian Intifada break out, and we experienced the violence, the barricades and the hardships that came with it. These hardships were intensified especially in light of our living nearby the French Hill, where many incidents and mass terror attacks surged.
After George Bush announced his intent to invade Iraq and before the second Gulf War broke out, we decided to move to my Island home in Carribean, Barbadoes and live there, thinking we could live in a safe place, away from all the violence and danger. But after the war, I convinced my husband to return to Palestine, even though he preferred to stay in Barbadoes. I already had three daughters and I wanted to raise them among their Palestinian families and according to the Muslim culture.
On Friday, June 11th, 2010, after prayer, the Israeli police killed my husband in a heinous manner. Three bullets were fired at him at point blank, and despite the fact that he was still alive, the Israeli Armed Forces let him bleed for 20 minutes until he took his last breath. He was blamed, without any foundation, for trying to run over policemen.
Anger and pain were my constant companions. I lost Ziad, a loving husband and a compassionate and beloved father. My life changed completely.
After Ziad's death, a member of the PCFF who lives in Beit Omar came to visit me. During the visit, she told me about her brother who was killed by the Israeli occupation forces, and that afterwards she started talking about the Forum and about the joint activities it holds, and suggested I join.
As she spoke, I felt she was talking about me, telling my story. I was still very surprised that she chose to join a joint Forum, that she still aspires for peace and that she is not interested in revenge.
Out of curiosity, I went to one of the joint meetings with the Israeli side. I began to better understand the Forum's message, its activities and humanitarian and political goals. I understood that our pain is the same pain. To me, the most significant incentive for joining the Forum was when I listened to Rami, one of the Israeli Forum members, talk about his daughter, who he had lost when a Palestinian blew himself up in Jerusalem in 1997. Rami said that he objects to violence and the occupation and is fighting for peace and freedom for both people.
I believe wholeheartedly in the Forum's message, which is why I joined them and have become active in several areas. Through my activity, I aspire to spread the Forum's message that strives to achieve peace and end the occupation, for the safety of the future generations on both sides.
The Caribbean Islands
Married, mother of three girls.