Portraits of Palestinian Resistance: Aysar Kamal Abu ‘Arra

Rima Merriman, a Palestinian American living in Ramallah, wrote this series, “Portraits of Palestinian Resistance”, telling the stories of the four Palestinians killed and one of the 57 wounded in Ramallah on 24 May 2006, as they struggled to protect a Palestinian activist and political prisoner from an Israeli undercover unit.


Friends and family with posters of the two martyrs Aysar and Fadi Abu ‘Arra. (Rima Merriman)

Aysar Kamal Abu ‘Arra (21)

With Aysar’s death during the May 24 Israeli raid in Ramallah, Kamal Jamil Qasem (49) of Aqqaba near Jenin buried his second child. The first to die was Fadi, who, at 19, fought with Abu Jandal of Islamic Jihad during the nine-day Israeli attack on Jenin Refugee Camp in April of 2002. He fought against bulldozers, apache helicopters, tanks and heavy machine guns.

Kamal Abu ‘Arra, Aysar’s father, in the yard of his home. (Rima Merriman)

Aysar, a member of the PA national security forces, was stationed in Ramallah, because he was having trouble getting to Hebron, his original post, as a result of the Israeli check points. The day of the raid, he was on leave in order to attend the graduation ceremony of his fiancé in Bethlehem. He was also moonlighting as a waiter in a restaurant in Ramallah, because the PA has been unable to pay salaries for government employees for several months. When the Hamas-led Palestinian government was elected, Israel withheld PA revenues and continues to do so.

Aysar’s father and mother, Kamal and Nuha, with the images of their two martyred sons, Fadi who died at age 19 and Aysar who died at age 21. (Rima Merriman)

Kamal, who was himself arrested and imprisoned by the Israelis three times during the first Intifada, is an itinerant farmer and does not make much money. His oldest son, Jamil, quit school after the ninth grade and is currently unemployed. He is married and has a son whom he called Fadi after the first martyr in the family. Surviving Fadi and Aysar, Kamal and his wife Nuha have eight children ranging in age from 24 to seven. His nineteen-year old son Sameh recently left school to help support the family.

10-year old Aseer being comforted by his grandmother. (Rima Merriman)

Aysar was shot in the back and in the belly. He died on his way to hospital. His sister Haya (13), and his brothers Mustafa (7) and Aseer (10) took his death especially hard. Aysar had been last home 21 days before he was killed.


Rima Merriman is a Palestinian-American living in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Related Links

  • Summer Time and the Living’s Uneasy, Zachary Wales (26 May 2006)
  • Indiscriminate and Excessive Use of Force: Four Palestinians Killed During Arrest Raid, Press Release, Al-Haq (24 May 2006)