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Occupied Lives: No justice for my son’s death


Saad al-Majdalawi


On Tuesday, 16 August 2011, Saad al-Majdalawi, a 17-year-old
mentally disabled boy, died when he was targeted with live fire by Israel’s
forces positioned on the border between Nusseirat, in the central part of the Gaza
Strip, and Israel.  Saad was unarmed and
posed no threat to Israeli soldiers when he was shot and killed.


Abdul Rahim al-Majdalawi last saw his son on Saturday, 12 August:
“Saad left the house at around 8 p.m.  He
did not come back that night and we assumed he had gone to visit a relative or
friend.  The next day, he still had not
come back, so we started looking for him. 
On Tuesday night, some of my relatives got news that a member of the al-Majdalawi
family had been killed at the border and that the body was in Al-aqsa
hospital.  Nobody told me anything until
12 pm, so I went to the hospital when I heard the news from relatives and neighbors.”


Abdul Rahim went to the morgue, afraid that it was his son who had
been killed: “Saad usually left home for maybe a day when he went to see
relatives and friends.  He had never gone
missing for 3 days before.  This is why I
went to the hospital to see which member of the al-Majdalawi family had been
killed.  I viewed the body and realized
that it was my son Saad.  He had a bullet
hole at the top of his head and his nose had been torn off by bullets.  There were more wounds on his chest,
shoulder, leg and left elbow.”


Abdul Rahim does not believe that Saad would have posed a threat to
Israel’s forces: “I do not know how far he had been from the border when he was
killed, but Saad had never caused problems for anyone.  He had never harmed anyone in the house or in
the neighborhood, and yet he was dead.  Up
until now, it is really not clear to me what happened that night. I cannot even
tell the total number of bullets that were in his body.  He was alone when he was killed.”


The death of Saad has been particularly hard for his father, given
that they were very close: “Saad was in secondary school, but he dropped out
because of his mental condition.  He also
had a speech impairment and was punished at school for it.  He was very sociable though and liked
interacting with people, even though sometimes they would laugh at him or even
hit him when they heard him speak.  This made
him very depressed and increased his psychological problems.  We had started seeking treatment for his
mental condition a month before he got killed.  I wanted better treatment for him.  I understood his suffering and we were very
close because of this.  Now, he is gone.”


The possibility of filing a legal complaint evokes strong emotions
in Abdul Rahim: “What happened to my son still makes me sad.  He is gone and nothing can change that.  It is very hard for me to talk about it.  He was respectful and always made us
laugh.  The house feels empty without
him.  His brothers miss him very much and
they are still greatly affected by his death. 
I wanted the best for him.  I
don’t believe anything will come out of a complaint or lawsuit.  I do not want compensation and nobody can
give me excuses for why they killed my son. 
I do not have faith in any legal procedures, because nobody can accuse
Israel and nobody can prosecute them even when they are wrong.  It is unfortunate, but nothing will come out
of this.”


On 21 September
PCHR submitted a civil complaint to the
Ministry of Defense, which so far has not lead to a positive outcome.  Additionally,
on 25 September 2011, PCHR submitted a criminal complaint to the Military Prosecutor of
the Israeli military, which has been rejected on 07 May 2012.  On behalf of the al-Majdalawi family, PCHR
also submitted an Individual Complaint to the Special Rapporteur on
extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions on 10 September 2012.


The targeting and killing of a child, a protected civilian, is a
war crime, as codified in Articles 8(2)(a)(i) and 8(2)(b)(i) of the Rome
Statute of the International Criminal Court.