Tareq abu zahra
I was born in Yatta in 1979. My story is the story of a family living under occupation. When I was 18 months old, my father emigrated to Jorden for work, so I was raised by my grandmother and uncles.
My childhood days were spent accompanying my grandmother who worked our land in the outskirts of Susyia. We used to play there, observing the soldiers in their base located nearby at that time. Sometimes we would hitch a ride with them, they would act nicely to us. That was before the First Intifada.
When I was nine years old, the first Intifada broke. Stones, killings, arrests…I did not understand what was going on.
One night, I woke with a soldier holding a gun over my head. I was frightened. The soldiers searched the house, leaving it in a devastating condition. They were looking for Sammih my uncle in order to arrest him.
Following this event I started to ask many questions. I understood these soldiers are the enemy. They are the ones who killed my grandfather in 1967. They are the reason for my family’s sufferings.
A few weeks later, Sammih was arrested. He was tortured and left with a damaged eye.
After a while, the soldiers came back, and the same scene of destruction and abuse repeated itself. They were looking for, and found, my younger uncle Hashem.
The First Intifada ended, and then came the Oslo Accords. Things calmed down and my uncles were released from prison.
I did not think for a minute to take part in the Second Intifada, or in any activity which could cause more suffering and grief to my family. I decided to invest all my energy in distancing the young generation from the circle of violence. The torments my family under grew from 1967 does not leave my mind, it was a result of violence, therefore there must be another way.
Not one member of our family took part in the violence of the Second Intifada due to my efforts, and to those of many whom suffered from the First Intifada and prior to it.
I started seeking alternative non-violent ways of opposing the occupation and the injustice reflected upon us as a result of it. I read about Martin Luther King, Gandi and Nelson Mandela.
Four years ago I met a friend who suggested that I join Combatants for Peace. Their non-violent acts against the occupation convinced me. I am an active member and the Palestinian coordinator of the Southern group.