The question that is not asked, is why and how these children were killed. Were they fighting for the illegal genocidal Hamas regime? Or were they "collateral damage"?
Last update - 09:36 04/03/2008
Fatah man loses children in IDF raid, but Hamas won't let him bury them
By Avi Issacharoff , Haaretz Correspondent
"I wanted to see their bodies, to say good-bye to them for the last time," says Mohammed Abu Shabak, whose children Jacqueline and Iyad were killed Sunday during the Israel Defense Forces' operation in Jabalya.
But Hamas told Abu Shabak, a Fatah activist in exile in Ramallah, that if he tried to come to the Gaza Strip funeral, he would be killed. Hamas militants also fired at his relatives' car, while they were announcing his children's death in Jabalya.
"I don't know whom I'm more angry with - Hamas, who won't let me go to my children's funeral, or Israel, who killed them and stopped their mother from coming to see them in the hospital," he says.
Unlike most mourning huts, Mohammed's is some 100 kilometers away from the family's house in Gaza. Mohammed is the nephew and former associate of Rashid Abu Shabak, Fatah's counter-intelligence commander in the Gaza Strip and a Hamas foe. Mohammed fled the strip in June 2007, at the beginning of the Fatah-Hamas civil war.
"I didn't say a word to the kids when I left the house. Only when I made it through the Erez crossing did I call and tell Jacqueline I was moving to Ramallah and promised to see her again soon. I never saw her again," he says.
His house in Ramallah is filled with guests who came to console him, almost all of them, like himself, refugees who have been sentenced to death in Gaza. Some of them escaped assassination attempts. All Fatah's senior officials and former Palestinian Authority officers in Gaza arrived. Many had left their families behind in Gaza, because Israel refused to let the families join their fathers and husbands in the West Bank.
Mohammed sits grieving in a small room. He used to talk to his children and especially to his eldest, 17-year-old Jacqueline, every day. "Every day she told me she missed me. In May, after she and her brother Iyad passed their exams, I planned to bring them to Ramallah. She was an outstanding student, dreamed of studying engineering at university. She was afraid of being teased because of her foreign name. She was always angry with me for choosing that name."
"On Saturday I spoke to her at about 10 P.M. Jacqueline was sick and so was Iyad, who had back problems. I told my wife that I wanted her to take the children and move to her family's house in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood, where it's quieter. Her leg is broken, so she said she'd go the next day. At midnight Jacqueline called. The military operation had begun, and I heard the shelling and bombing. She told me that my little son, Mohammed Ali, kept running to the window every time he heard shooting and asked me to speak to him. I did. He promised not to make problems. An hour later I called her again and asked everyone to gather in the living room. At 2:15 A.M. we had our last conversation. She told me she missed me."
He bursts into tears again.
"I told her not to be afraid. I promised her that tomorrow we'd talk on instant messenger and she asked me to talk to Iyad, but I said I was tired and would talk to them later. At about 2:30 A.M. they were killed."
Mohammed's friends say that Iyad had left the living room to go to the bathroom when a shell hit the house and he was seriously injured. He called for help and his sister Jacqueline rushed to his side. As she approached him, soldiers shot her. Rescue teams took the two, still breathing, to the hospital, but they died soon after arrival. Their mother remained in the shelled house with a broken leg and three small children. The phone lines were cut off and nobody could approach the house, which was in the center of the IDF's operation site, to tell her of their death.
Meanwhile, one of the neighbors called Mohammed's friend Nashet, who also lives in Ramallah, and told him what had happened. Nashet went to Mohammed's house. "He woke me up. I asked him what are you doing here, what happened? He told me Jacqueline was killed. Only after I collapsed and was taken to the hospital did my friends tell me the whole truth," says Mohammed.
Asked if he would still try to move his family to Ramallah, Mohammed says, "No, someone must take care of Jacqueline and Iyad's graves, and my wife won't leave them behind."