‘Don’t Be Sad, Father’: Farewells Reflect Deadly Period in West Bank

‘Don’t Be Sad, Father’: Farewells Reflect Deadly Period in West Bank

In one of the deadliest periods in years in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, young Palestinians drawn into the struggle against Israel are farewell messages to their loved ones. A portrait of Amr Khamour, a 14-year-old teenager who was killed during an Israeli army raid, at his home in Dheisheh Camp, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.Credit…Samar Hazboun for The New York Times July 5, 2023, 5:00 a.m. ET Before Amr Khamour, 14, was killed, shot twice by Israeli troops as he hurled stones at a military jeep in his hometown, he spent his time dancing with friends, recording TikTok videos on his phone. But after his death in January, his parents found a photograph of a handwritten farewell message on his phone. “If I come to you a martyr, God willing,” he wrote his mother, “don't cry. And forgive me for every mistake I made.” “Don't be sad, father,” Amr continued, “I wished for martyrdom and I received it.” Then he finished with words of love for his childhood sweetheart: “God gave me the person dear to my heart, Kariwan.” Fighters who have taken up arms against Israel with groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have long left behind final testaments, sometimes high-quality videos, to take responsibility for attacks in which they expect to lose their lives. Now, young Palestinians, like Amr — not affiliated with the territories' armed groups but nonetheless willing to confront Israeli troops — are leaving behind messages of their own. These farewells for loved ones, requests for forgiveness and exhortations to fight against Israel are known as “wills” in Arabic, even if their authors are not leaving behind any material goods. Many scrawl them on notebook paper, with scratched-out words a sign of their uncertainty what to say. Suhad Khamour, the mother of Amr, holding her son's jacket in their house. His parents found his “will” on his cellphone. The farewell testaments reflect a prevailing sense among many young men that death is heroic, meaningful and inevitable during what is now the deadliest period for Palestinians in nearly two decades in the […]

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