by Paulette Schroeder
Her dropped head, her clasped hands, her sad face continue to haunt me. I
ask myself how anyone could endure this kind of pain, especially a mother.
I sat in a stupefied silence as the fifty-six-year-old woman
told us about the invasion of her home last October. Soldiers had awakened the family and their relatives next
door by banging on the door at 12:00 a.m.
They then ordered the families out of their homes, locked the women and
young children in the shop next door, handcuffed and blindfolded the men and
adolescent boys, and told them stand in front of a shop.
In the next twelve hours, the Israeli military shot and killed two Palestinian
men accused of killing four settlers. Afterwards soldiers entered the same
house, although neighbors said the family had no connection to the killings,
shot randomly into the bed, through the blankets, under the bed, into the
windows, doors, and table. I wept within when the mother pointed out a
beautiful blanket meant to be a wedding gift for one of the sons and his wife,
now riddled with bullet holes.
The aggression did not end there. While
forty to fifty military vehicles blocked the streets outside, two bulldozers
demolished the part of the house where a newly married son lived with his wife.
They then destroyed another part of the complex prepared for another son
soon to be married. Furniture and remains of furniture now hung from the
skeletal frameworks, where once a multi-family building stood.
One week after they had arrested her sons, the military came for the mother.
She remained in prison for 26 days. When asked how the soldiers
treated her, she said they “used words that no woman should hear.” At one
point, they ordered her to strip, then checked her private areas, using a
detector on some places of her naked body. She said that if the soldiers did this to a woman in prison,
what must her sons be experiencing?
I had no words to convey my sorrow to this mother. I assured her that God would give her
strength, but my words sounded like “a ringing brass cymbal”—so weak. I
felt burdened with the sadness of this family that had lost so much, sad for
the soldiers who now must carry the crimes they have committed into their
future, ashamed of my country that continues to fund such aggression.
The mother told me that whenever she tells the story, she
feels a headache coming on. She is
worried too because her four sons are not working and supporting the family,
and her husband is sick. One daughter earns 600 NIS (about $150.00) a
week, but that must carry the family through all its needs.
When, Lord! Why do these Palestinian people not count in world politics?
Where shall help come for a people who have no defense? Now it is I who hang my head.