Posted by on July 31, 2014 in Blog

By Emily Cooke
Summer Intern, 2014

A show of solidarity turned to senseless violence on Friday, July 25th, as Israeli security forces open fired on Palestinians demonstrating peacefully in the West Bank town of Beit Ummar.

Palestinians in the West Bank defied the indiscriminate Israeli bombardment of Gaza by embracing nonviolence, marching from Ramallah towards Jerusalem in an impressive show of Palestinian unity. Among the flood of peaceful demonstrators was Hashem Khader Abu Maria, an employee of Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCI), and one of three Palestinians caught in the crossfires of disproportionate Israeli force.

Peace was met with gunfire at Qalandia, a checkpoint separating Ramallah and Jerusalem, when Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinians after an attempt to disperse the crowd through physical force. More than 300 yards from the fray, Hashem stood firm in the commitment to nonviolence, but was fatally struck by an Israeli bullet that added yet another victim to an already tragic Palestinian death toll.

Hashem served as the coordinator of DCI-Palestine’s community mobilization unit, a branch of the DCI hallowed for its promotion of constructive child participation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Most recently, Hashem directed his efforts toward Palestinian teens documenting and addressing child rights violations in Hebron.

An inward, resolute passion appeared to drive Hashem’s work, with executive director of DCI-Palestine fondly remembering Hashem as someone who “considered defending children’s rights as his purpose in life, not simply as a job.”

While the legacy of Hashem will surely to outlast the sounds of Israeli gunfire, disproportionate and lethal Israeli force against Palestinians civilians in the West Bank and Gaza cannot afford to be glazed over in the present. Large scale protests to Israel’s siege of Gaza have erupted in more than eight cities throughout the West Bank, leaving six dead and hundreds wounded.

As bombs are launched on innocent civilians in Gaza and bullets thwart peaceful protests in the West Bank, it is high time to end the senseless bloodshed and to reflect on the consequences of every rocket, bomb dropped, and bullet fired. The death of Hashem was just one tragic consequence among thousands more, as innocent Palestinians continue to suffer for the right to their own humanity.

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