Mustafa Tamimi’s father passed away

“Sometimes my wife and I can’t go to sleep and we stay awake the whole night crying and comforting one another. It’s not good to keep crying and mourning our son the martyr. I keep telling my wife we must be strong, this is a blessing, an honor to have a martyred son, but sometimes I feel like I don’t believe what I’m saying and my heart feels so heavy with grief.” He looked at me wearily, but not fatalistically, I convinced myself. “Thank God for everything.”

AbdelRazzaq Tamimi passed away Monday evening. He was the father of Mustafa Tamimi who was killed last December after an occupation solider fired a tear gas canister at his face from a short distance.

Mustafa’s mother, Ikhlas, had lost so much weight when I last saw her in the summer. She was already a slender woman to begin with, and the shawl that she wrapped herself in despite the summer heat did little to hide her tiny figure. A woman made old before her time, just like so many other Palestinian women who kept their suffering to themselves. Ikhlas was known for enjoying smoking an argeelah (water pipe), and her pack of cigarettes never left her side.

I thought of her in the clothes she wore on the funeral of her son Mustafa. Brown trousers, brown shirt, and a white headscarf. I wondered dully if she would be wearing the same clothes for her husband’s funeral.

“I’m sorry every time I visit you, we end up talking about Mustafa,” I had told them, as we sat in plastic chairs under the shade of an olive tree.

“Nonsense,” he had said. “You’re like our daughter, and you are welcome any time and can talk about anything you want.”

The illegal settlement of Halamish started directly opposite us, with its ugly red tiled rooftops looming up draining the sun of its own color. How are they still sane, this heartbroken couple who buried their firstborn, having to wake up to this eyesore, a symbol of the culture of impunity their son’s murderer enjoys and is glorified for?

“Thank God for everything.”

They talked to me about the last morning their son lived.

“The day felt so peculiar, so strange,” AbdelRazzaq said. “As if somehow, in some way, he knew that this was his last day. He didn’t look like himself that morning. He asked his mother to iron his white shirt. He wore t-shirts to protests, not a formal shirt. He looked like a groom.”

Ikhlas didn’t say anything. She told me she couldn’t say anything without breaking down in tears, and she didn’t want to put her husband through that again and again. Her head was bowed against her chest, occasionally raising it up to drag on her cigarette.

“Thank God for everything.”

Every occasion was a reason not to celebrate. The piles of cement bricks that had once littered the front lawn have long since been disposed of. Mustafa was planning on building an apartment on top of his family’s house, for his fiancée.

Multiple raids on the house, the sons being traded when it came to the arrest. One brother released, his twin arrested a few weeks later. That one released months later, only for the second oldest brother to be arrested. Like a cycle, a psychological blow to the family as a reminder for who they are, what they do, where they live, under which rule, power, authority.

“Thank God for everything.”

The youngest child, 19-year-old Ola. She dropped out of high school and the tedious village life made her nervous. She went to Amman, Jordan for a few months, staying with a relative and coping with her own mental scars in a different environment, trying a hand out at a semblance of normality.

“We’re not fooling ourselves,” AbdelRazzaq told me. “We know we are not going to see any justice done to Mustafa. There have been thousands killed before him. The whole racist system of occupation laws is not going to change on the back of my son’s murder. What I hope for is that people remember him, that they will not forget him. That’s what I ask. I don’t want Mustafa to be forgotten.”

I don’t want this family to be forgotten, ever. Not the father, who often endured humiliation and taunts by the occupation soldiers waiting by the watchtower just outside the village as he went to the hospital every few days for his kidney dialysis. Not the twins, one sensitive, the other with his oldest brother’s swagger. Not the other two brothers, one of who was one of my first friends from the village. Not his sister who was laughed at by the soldiers as they denied her to be at her brother’s side as he lay bleeding. Not the mother, the brittle, grief-stricken small woman, with the effort of going through each day evident in her eyes and corners of her mouth.

It’s been less than a year, but this family has witnessed two deaths; one by murder, the other by sickness and heartbreak.

“Thank God for everything,” fatalistically or not.

Comments

I was welcomed into his house to meet all his lovely family on several occasions. Such warm and beautiful people. I feel so much for the family and for the people of Nabi Saleh who are treated horrifically by the Israeli army on a weekly basis.

I'm heartbroken, but he will never be forgotten. Mustafa Tamimi and his family will forever be in our hearts.

Linah thank you for sharing this sadness and please pass on my sincerest condolences to Ikhlas and to her children for the death of her beloved husband and for their beloved father. Mustafa lives in the hearts of activists for a free Palestine.

I meant to say Abdel Razzaq and Mustafa live in the hearts of activists for a free Palestine.

أنا عبدالله من مونتريال أقول لكم يابختكم شهيد وفي الأرض المباركة يالهو من إنتصار

heartfelt condolences to the entire family....our hearts are with you...as are our spirits.