17 February 2004
Olive tree planted to commemorate Samer Jasser
Spent the day at Quarawat Bani Zeid, a beautiful Palestinian village on a hill to the north west of Ramalla in the West Bank. Two of us went because the villagers have requested the presence of two internationals each day following the killing of a man six days ago by an Israeli army assassination squad. He was known to object to the occupation, but had not done any physical act of defiance towards the Israelis. Altogether ten men, women and children in the village have been shot dead by Israeli soldiers in the last three years, and many more have been wounded.
Samer Jasser had kept out of the village recently because he knew he was wanted by the Israeli army, but he came home for his 29th birthday. Fifteen Israeli soldiers commandeered a white Palestinian van and made the driver take them to Samer's house. They arrived in front of the house at 9 am. They rushed out and deployed in groups of three round the house, one group running round to below the olive grove where they thought he might run to. He was eating breakfast with his wife and three children aged 7, 5 and 3. When he saw the soldiers, he ran as fast as he could out from the back of the house, jumped down two walls, and ran through his olive grove below the house. He fell when a soldier shot him 75 metres from the house. They continued shooting him when he was on the ground and he was hit by 14 bullets in all. The soldiers left after one of them had inspected the body to make sure he was dead. The spot is now marked by an olive sapling planted by the villagers.
The soldiers apologised to his 24-year-old widow for the killing, but soldiers soon terrorized the village again, returning at 1 am the following morning firing shots in the air. We met the family sitting mourning outside the house with relatives and neighbours. Samerís wife said to us: "People can come and live amongst us, but they must not take our houses and our land. We don't want any more killings."
During May last year, 5 people were killed. One was a boy who was eating a tomato which a soldier targetted, using a fragmenting bullet which destroyed half the boyís face. Another was a woman with 7 daughters who was in her garden when she was killed by an army sniper who fired from a hillside a kilometre away. Samerís assassination was seen by our host, who said that when he was at school soldiers fired into the school on five occasions when it was full of pupils.
Samerís children with their grandfather
Tony, from a village near Ramallah, 17 February 2004