When Malek Called

The following is an account by staff and counselors at the Palestine Counseling Center. The PCC has set up an emergency hotline to guide people through the crisis in Ramallah, and their staff have been working around the clock (AB).

Four telephone lines and fax line ring non-stop.

We have no bread; I need milk for my two month old baby; I need medicine because I have diabetes; I need medicine for my high blood pressure; I’m scared - I’m alone trapped in a restaurant in Ramallah and the Israeli snipers are on the rooftop of the building I’m in; I don’t know what to do - my children are scared; I’m a doctor - there are 38 apartments in the building I work in and the families here need bread, water, milk - I also need medicine to treat some of the people here - I need antibiotics, velum, I need aspirin for children and adults – I also have a pregnant woman here - if I don’t get her to a hospital – I will have to deliver the baby here. And the calls go on and on - mainly the need for basic food necessities, medicine and guidance - counseling. The staff have been working for 72 hours - non-stop - shifts - to answer phone calls and provide assistance also through the radio and television stations that are still under Palestinian control.

The telephone lines ring - again.

The nineteen year old who is stuck in the restaurant where Israeli snipers are on the rooftop of the building in Ramallah. He says he has access to food and even to television – but he’s scared - he is isolated - what should he do. We give him advice - stay inside, take long and deep breaths, keep the volume for the television low so you stay safe. The phone rings again - his name is Malek. He is still scared - he can’t breath - he hears the soldiers outside - he is originally from Jericho - but can’t get home. He’s scared. I’m isolated … I’m scared. I have contacted my family in Jericho and I’m still scared. Try to contact your neighbors in the same building and talk to them - it may comfort you.

Take deep breaths, move around and turn off the TV, think happy things - about your family in Jericho. Think happy things … you will go home to your family soon in Jericho. Malek was still sacred and decided to go upstairs to his neighbors apartment…. He never made it. Think happy thoughts… you will see your family soon. They will meet you at the entrance of the city – in your casket … think happy things … Malek, we know that you were scared but we did not expect you to be shot in cold blood as you were leaving to your neighbors house because you were scared - your words were supported by the fear in your voice. We still have the notes we took from your calls.

I’m alone in a restaurant - I’m 19 and I’m alone - I don’t need food -but I’m scared … I’m scared, I feel isolated. I contacted my family. I’m scared.

Malek never made it to his neighbors house… he did not know them but he needed support as he told our psychologists who talked to him several times over two days. He was scared and isolated … he needed to hear people’s voices and to see movement around him. Malek was sacred as he left the restaurant - taking a courageous step to go by his neighbors - and when an Israeli soldier maybe also 19 years old decided to take thefear away from Malek by taking away his life. Malek did not call today and the psychologists who spoke to him are feeling down - did we give himthe right advice - he was really scared? Why did he leave? He must have began to get really terrified of being alone. Malek’s body lay for a few hours in the streets of Ramallah while paramedics were prevented from providing him with medical assistance.

Many Maleks called us today… there are three of us trapped in an apartment building.we are alone. We have not eaten in three days. We fear for our lives - the Israeli soldiers have surrounded the building we are in. I have 38 families in the building - they are scared… but they also have no bread, milk or water. Many families have small children… we don’t need to eat, just some food for the children.