Mohamed Owedah, a social worker, was born in the village of Silwan in East Jerusalem, Al Quds. Mohamad’s village is the biggest village in Palestine, but it is also a very popular village amongst the settlers due to its proximity to the City of David. As a child, Mohamad remembers how families from the village were forced to leave their homes in order to settle Jewish families instead.
The first Intifada broke out when Mohamed was 16 years old. Most of the men and youths in the village were jailed for various charges: throwing stones or even simply hanging Palestinian flags. Four of Mohamad’s brothers were arrested imprisoned.
Mohamad remembers the difficulty of daily life while most of his family was in jail. Every Friday at 5am, he would wait for the Red Cross and ask for help. He and his family could only visit his brothers once a month, and the ride was always long and hard. When they arrived at the prison, he and his parents were subjected to a humiliating inspection, after which they might not be granted access at all. Cancellation of visits due to collective ‘punishments’ or boycotts was routine. For months on end, this was the Owedah family’s life.
After the first Intifada came the Oslo Accords. In their hearts, Mohamad and his family thought, “This nightmare has ended and our dream has finally come true! We be free and no longer have our children locked in Israeli prisons!”
When the second Intifada broke out in 2000, their hope was destroyed. Violence spread and Mohamad lost many of his friends as the Occupation became more brutal. In his hometown of Silwan, more and more homes were demolished.
Together with friends from his village, Mohamad decided to resist the Occupation — not with violence, but without bloodshed, without more dead friends. He and his friends started training themselves in nonviolent resistance, and began protesting against the settlements and home demolitions in the King’s Garden (Silwan), in the City of David.
Throughout his resistance, Mohamad was looking for the sane voice on the other side. He asked himself why this voice was unheard. He started looking for a partner in peace. This was when he found Combatants for Peace, at the time in its first year.
He attended a meeting to hear about the movement and to see its activities. A bond was formed between Mohamed and the other the activists. Together with the movement he expanded the nonviolent struggle against the Occupation.
Their activities have shown that accomplishments can be made without violence, and more and more people have laid down their arms to join them.
Every nonviolent action, every small accomplishment, points us in the right direction: the way towards true peace and freedom. Mohamad has been active in Combatants for Peace for more than 8 years, and is now the movement’s General Palestinian Coordinator.