It was on Tuesday, May 14th, that Israeli Mista'arvim (undercover unit) executed two men in the village of Halhoul, just north of Hebron. The men were Khaled Abu Khiran, a colonel in the General Intelligence Service, and his good friend. Khaled was also the husband of Sarah Karaje whom many of you might remember.
Sarah is head of the Fatah Women's Organization in the region, and the woman who spoke to the activists at the Beit Ummar Ta'ayush convoy. She welcomed us and talked of the importance of working together, of solidarity, and of building a grassroots movement that will work together for a just peace. She talked about the plight of the Palestinians, particularly the women and children.
After the Beit Ummar convoy, Sarah Karaje initiated a few other meetings with Ta'ayush members, both in Hebron and in El-Aroub refugee camp. A planning committee of which she was a member had organized a convoy whose aim was to renovate four kindergartens in the El-Aroub camp. Her cousin, Ahmad, who is among the camp leaders, also participated in the meetings. During these meetings we worked closely together, as partners, as friends. Indeed, not only Sarah Karaje, but her whole family, are proponents of a just peace and Arab-Jewish partnership.
Sharon's brutal military assault, dubbed "Defensive Shield," cut-off our preparations in El-Aroub just as they were being finalized. Like many people in the refugee camp, Ahmad was arrested and is now held in harsh conditions in Ofer camp.
Despite these developments, we remained in touch with Sarah, hoping that in the future we could organize some kind of joint action.
It was with great shock and sadness that we heard of Khaled's execution.
The following day, Ta'ayush members from Haifa, Mercaz, and Jerusalem wrote a condolence ad, which stated:
"To Sarah Karaje, Chairwoman of the Fatah Women Organization, we are with you in your pain following the death of your husband Khalad Abu Khiran, who was executed without trial in Halhoul by the State of Israel. Sincerely, your partners in the struggle for peace Ta'ayush, Arab-Jewish Partnership."
The Israeli Arab newspaper El-Itihad published the ad as is, the Palestinian newspaper El-Kuds changed the wording since it would not pass Israeli censorship, while the Israeli daily Ha'aretz passed the ad to its legal advisor who had not reached a decision before the paper went to press, and therefore did not publish the ad at all.
On Thursday, Ta'ayush members went to Halhoul to convey their condolences to the family. They met Sarah and her three daughters ages 3, 6 and 9.
Among the mourners with whom Ta'ayush members talked were Khaled's mother and two of Sarah's brothers, Taysir Karaje who is a member of the Palestinian National Council (and was exiled from the West Bank in 1971, returning in 1997) and Abu Ansar Karaje, who is a legal adviser for the Palestinian Preventive Security Forces.
When the group told Khaled's mother how sorry they were, she responded: "I too offer you my condolences," by which she meant that not only the family, but the world had lost Khaled, who was like a brother to everyone who knew him and a great soul.
It is with a sense of despair that we witness how Sharon is systematically smothering all Palestinian voices of peace.