On the early hours of Friday, 11.02.2011, Husam Hussein Hasan Ar-Rweidi, a 24 year old Palestinian from the eastern part of occupied Jerusalem, was on his way to work when he and a friend were attacked by a group of ultra orthodox Jews. Both were stabbed several times and while his friend was seriously injured, Husam died later in hospital. Israeli occupation forces rushed to steal Husam’s body from the hospital and kept him a hostage, a form of collective punishment often used by the Zionist entity. They wanted to punish Husam for being a Palestinian; they wanted to punish him for refusing to give up his birthright Jerusalem. They wanted to punish his family, friends and comrades for defying the Zionist entity and its terrorist settler militias. They wanted to punish all Jerusalemites for daring to live, for daring to breathe, for refusing to leave, for remaining steadfast in occupied Jerusalem, for remaining steadfast in their city, in their home despite Zionist terrorism, for remaining steadfast in the face of the Zionist colonialism.
And while Palestinians are murdered for no other reason than being Palestinian, while Palestinian homes are raided and ransacked by Zionist militias on a daily basis, while Palestinian property is destroyed, while Palestinian homes are demolished, while Palestinian land is stolen and usurped, while Palestinian children are kidnapped from their beds in the middle of the night, Zionist terrorists walk free, are praised for the theft of Palestinian land and property and are rewarded for their crimes against Palestinians. The militias of the Zionist entity who, in contradiction to all known human values, keep the remains of over 300 Palestinian martyrs hostage, informed Husam’s father that they didn’t want “any scenes” during the burial, that the body of Husam will be returned to the family for burial only if the family were to agree to the army’s terms and conditions. The Israeli occupation army wanted to cover up yet another one of its crimes, another of the crimes committed against unarmed Palestinians, another crime that will yet again show the ugly face of the Zionist entity and expose its “we are peace-seekers” and “only defending ourselves” lies.
Husam was murdered and Husam was being punished for being murdered; his body was to remain hostage. Day after day, they refused him a burial unless his family agrees to their stipulations. They who lecture on peace and humanity, they know not what peace is, nor what humanity is. They placed conditions on a bereaved family, those who kill innocent Palestinians and protect terrorist settlers placed conditions on the time and place of the burial of murdered son, on the number of mourners, they who lecture on human values, on human dignity. Not even in death do they spare us, they who know no mercy for the living or the dead.
They informed the family that Husam’s body would only be released for burial if the family consented to bury him in silence, in the darkness, at 12 am in the middle of the night where no cameras are present to record the crime, no day light to expose the cruelty, where no voices would shout out in rage.
They informed the family that Husam was not to be taken to Al-Aqsa mosque for pre-burial prayer service. They didn’t want Husam to pay a last visit to Al-Aqsa. They didn’t want Al-Aqsa to kiss Husam’s forehead. They fear Husam, even in death, they feared a Palestinian body laid in the heart of Al-Aqsa, they feared a Palestinian soul wandering in the Noble Sanctuary. They fear everything that is Jerusalem, they fear everything that is Palestine.
They informed the family that Husam is to be taken to his final resting place by a limited number of mourners. They wanted no more than 40 relatives to mourn Husam, otherwise he will remain hostage. They didn’t want his friends and comrade, his neighbours, his fellow Jerusalemites and Palestinians to accompany him on his final journey to become one with his mother Palestine. They didn’t want Jerusalem to mourn her son, they didn’t want Palestine to mourn her son. They fear our mourning, they fear our anger, they fear our sadness, our rage. They think if they prevent us from mourning that we will forget Husam, that we will forget and forgive.
They informed the family that Husam will not be allowed a burial place in Jerusalem, in his birthplace, in his city. They informed them that he is only to be buried in Ramallah, the Ghetto they have reserved for the Palestinians. They didn’t want Husam to be buried in Jerusalem, for a city void of Palestinian graves cannot expose their lies. They destroy thousand year old Palestinian graves to delete a history of a nation, to rewrite a history of a fake entity. They fear the dead and their final resting places, they fear every tombstone with a name that speaks of Palestine, they fear every tombstone that shouts: he lived a Palestinian.
Husam’s family challenged the Zionist stipulations in an Israeli court, and despite the court’s decision to allow Husam to be buried in Bab Ar-Rahmeh cemetery in occupied Jerusalem, Husam was still to be buried at midnight and in the presence of no more than 40 mourners. Islamic rituals such as prayer and washing of the dead were to be attended by no more than 20 mourners and performed in Ras Il-Amoud mosque and not in Al-Aqsa. Yesterday evening, Tuesday 15.02.2011, the Israeli occupation authority finally released Husam’s body to his family for burial. Huge numbers of Israeli soldiers besieged Silwan and Ras Il-Amoud, all roads and entrances were closed. All entrances to the cemetery were also closed and a helicopter was roaming over the area while Israeli army vehicles surrounded the cemetery. Husam was buried under heavy Israeli presence, in the darkness with only lamps lit. Despite Israeli threats and army presence, over 50 mourners managed to break the siege on the cemetery and angry voices rose out in rage and in promise: Husam, rest in peace, you will never be forgotten. And outside the cemetery, in every Palestinian home in the eastern part of occupied Jerusalem; in the old city, in Silwan, in Ras Il-Amoud, in Il-Isawiyyeh, in Sheikh Jarrah, in Beit Hanina, in Shu’fat, in Sawahreh, in Izerayyeh, in Ar-Ram, in Abu Dees, in Wadi Al-Joz, in At-Tour, in Kufr Aqab. In every part of occupied Jerusalem Palestinians said a prayer for Husam, Palestinians said their farewells until “we meet again”, Palestinians sang for Husam and promised him that he is never forgotten, will never be forgotten as long as there is one single Palestinian in occupied Jerusalem.
Husam Ar-Rweidi was killed by a gang of Zionists in the middle of the night, colonists transported in airplanes and planted like cancer in the body of our beloved Jerusalem, in the heart of our beloved Palestine. Husam was buried yesterday. He was finally united with his mother, our mother, was finally united with Palestine. He finally became one with Jerusalem. Husam was buried in the darkness, not allowed to see the sun shine over Jerusalem for the last time, not allowed to kiss Al-Aqsa for the last time. But the warmth of Jerusalem will always shine over him and his name will forever echo within the walls of Al-Aqsa. Like many Palestinians before him, Husam Ar-Rweidi was buried in the darkness under the muzzle of a hundred machine guns, because like in life, they feared him in death. They feared the Palestinian giant that is within him, they feared the Palestinian giants that Husam’s soul would summon. They thought by burying him under cover of darkness, under the eye of thousands of soldiers they will bury their crime, that they will bury the truth. They thought that by sending him to the grave alone, that Jerusalem and all Palestine would soon forget him and burry his memory. They don’t realize that they are lighting the fire that will soon engulf them. They don’t realize that they are feeding the giant that will soon crush them. They don’t realize that they are kindling the spark of a revolution that will soon shake the foundations of their fake entity.
They deprive Palestinians of their home, of their land, they deport Palestinians of Jerusalem; they issue restriction orders preventing them from entering the old city, from entering Al-Aqsa, they place them under house arrest or deport them from their homes, they deprive them from Al-Aqsa, from Jerusalem, and want to deprive them from Jerusalem even when they are dead. But they don’t know, and how could they know, they who don’t know what it means to love your land to no limit, to be one with your land. They don’t know that Jerusalem is in the heart of every one of us, that Jerusalem lives within us, that every cell of our bodies cries out “Jerusalem”, that every shred of our souls cries out “Jerusalem”, that we are Jerusalem and Jerusalem is us.
They besiege your city, your home and besieged your body even in death. They feared you because in your life your mere existence is a witness to their lies and in your death your grave is a witness to their lies and crimes. They feared your body, feared the body that will free the land, that will water the poppies, that will summon the Palestinian spring, that will give birth to freedom. They wanted to uproot you from Jerusalem, but even after murdering you they couldn’t. You remain steadfast in your home, for this is your birthright, you remain steadfast in Jerusalem; our home, where we were born and where we will be buried, our beginning and our end. Jerusalem. You remain steadfast in Jerusalem.
Rest in Peace Husam, you will forever remain in our hearts.