By MOHAMMAD KALBONEH
December 4, 2017
“Israeli soldiers always guarded the Tomb. They always tried to mess with us as kids, trying to make fun of us, cursed us in Hebrew which we later got to understand the meaning of most of it.“
My first-hand experience with Israeli soldiers was back in 1995 – 1996. In sixth grade, I was living in the city of Nablus which is now part of what’s called “The West Bank.” The “Joseph Tomb,” a religious place in the Jewish religion, was near my school.
Settlers visited that area continuously, often in groups.
Israeli soldiers always guarded the Tomb. They always tried to mess with us as kids, trying to make fun of us, cursed us in Hebrew which we later got to understand the meaning of most of it.
They all had guns and looked really scary to us.
One day, it was the last day of school. We all had our marks and were happy to go home to show our parents. It was myself, my older brother and our neighbor friend. We could hear settlers loudly singing their prayers and we could spot some of them at the main door.
They all had guns and looked really scary to us. One of them approached us and told us to open our school bags so he could search them. We did what he asked, but then another one came and was laughing loudly and asked us to read something written on the wall across from us. It looked like he knew Arabic and wrote “Slap me” in Arabic on the wall.
They started with our friend who immediately read it and was immediately slapped hard on the face. He started crying and yelling for help, while the settler dragged me and my brother next to that wall and asked us to read what’s written.
I remember wetting my pants as soon as I read the words and was slapped hard in the face. My brother, on the other hand, refused. He just couldn’t talk or just knew what was going to happen and choose not to read it.
The two settlers then brought a police dog to scare him into reading the words, with no luck. It was all a game to them, but for us, it made all the difference in the world.
We thought we were going to die or get tortured to death.
Our parents always warned us from settlers and told us not to mess with them. They also accompanied us to school the first few days until we got comfortable passing by them.
My brother was 13 but looked like he was 15 or 16. He refused to read what was on the wall. The first settler who stopped us brought a chair and ropes, and then both of them forced my brother into the chair and tied him up.
I remember him being slapped, spit on, and sexually harassed in broad day light, in public, by these two settlers.
We all cried loudly before a few elder women were able to slowly and carefully approach the wall and try to take us from their hands.
The soldiers then came and untied my brother and told us to all leave.
One of the elder women took us to her house and put some water in an old tray, she read something on it, Quran probably, before handing it to us to drink. She told us it will calm us down.
My brother and I, along with our third friend, talk about this when we gather sometimes as part of just an experience we went through together as kids.
This is because we came to realize that we had it easy compared to
Mohammed Abu Khdeir.
12-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was kidnapped by settlers on July 2, 2014. He was forced to drink gasoline, then burned inside out.