Over the weekend I posted about a murder committed by Israeli troops at a protest against the wall of apartheid. As delegates were gathering at the site of the Durban Conference Against Racism, racism was/is thriving in Israel. The man murdered was loved by his community. You can read about him below…. the martyr who had a name….

His name was Basem
By Mohammad Khatib


Basem Abu Rameh, seen here by the Separation Wall in the village of Bil’in, near the city of Ramallah in the West Bank. (
His name was Basem, which means smile, and that is how he greeted everyone. But we all called him ‘Pheel’, which means elephant because he had the body the size of an elephant. But Basem had the heart of a child.

He loved everyone, and because of his sweetness and ability to make us laugh, everyone loved him. Basem was everyone’s friend: the children talk about how he would play with them, scare them and then make them laugh. He would tend the garden in the playground and bring toys and books to the kindergarten. The old ladies in the village talk about how he used to visit, to ask after them and see if they needed anything.

In the village, he seemed to be everywhere at once. He would pop in to say hello, take one puff of the nargila, and be off to his next spot. The morning he was killed he went to the house of Hamis, whose skull had been broken at a previous demonstration three months ago by a tear gas canister projectile – the same weapon that would kill Basem.

Basem woke Hamis and gave him his medicine, then off he went to visit another friend in the village who is ill with cancer. Then a little girl from the village wanted a pineapple but couldn’t find any in the local stores. So Basem went to Ramallah to get a pineapple and was back before noon for the Friday prayers and the weekly demonstration against the theft of our land by the apartheid wall.

Pheel never missed a demonstration; he participated in all the activities and creative actions in Bil’in. He would always talk to the soldiers as human beings. Before he was hit he was calling for the soldiers to stop shooting because there were goats near the fence and he was worried for them. Then a woman in front of him was hit. He yelled to the commander to stop shooting because someone was wounded. He expected the soldiers to understand and stop shooting. Instead, they shot him too.

People came to his funeral from all the surrounding villages to show Basem that they loved him as much as he had loved them. But those of us from Bil’in kept looking around for him, expecting him to be walking with us.

Pheel, you were everyone’s friend. We always knew we loved you, but didn’t realize how much we would miss you until we lost you. As Bil’in has become the symbol of

Palestine’s popular resistance, you are the symbol of Bil’in. Sweet Pheel, Rest in Peace, we will continue in your footsteps.

By Mohammad Khatib, member of the Bil’in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements



  1. April 23, 2009 at 15:27

    I’m in a philosophical and depressed mood today. You know what? I dream of waking up one day and not dreading looking at the computer to see what crime Israel has committed each day.

    Sometimes you just think you are living in a dream state, because you surely think that America, and American’s, will become fed up and force their country to stop enabling and assisting in these crimes against humanity.

    But, sadly, Just like the sun comes up each morning, there is always another death, another threat, another attack, another Palestinian homeless, another protester killed or maimed.

    They all have names, they are all loved by someone, they are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children and grand mothers or grandfathers.

    Once again, thanks for pointing this out:)

  2. robertsgt40 said,

    April 23, 2009 at 19:51

    I never thought the day would come when I said “I’m so ashamed of what my country has become”.. Here in the U.S. the people are so blind and oblivious to what’s going on in the ME. I wish there was somewhere else to go but the whole world is in a similiar fix. Only the God can fix this mess.

  3. James B said,

    April 23, 2009 at 20:18

    I hear what you’re saying irish. Day after day, year after year. I cannot fathom the entirity of what it must be like living in such conditions with no hope of the outside world coming to an awareness of the the suffering that they endure. Sad, sick, incomprehensible.


  4. Brian said,

    April 23, 2009 at 20:37

    I keep hoping that I’ll read something where Israel has realized that this has gone on long enough….

  5. Dianne Foster said,

    April 23, 2009 at 20:56

    Throughout my life, especially with my pets, I have always felt that some destruction was always visited upon the most open, the most outgoing, the most friendly. What does that say about existence? Are we all made to mourn?

    Those who heroically stand tall – they too. Or as the Japanese say, the nail that stands out gets hammered. But in what sort of society?

    As for the IDF – we have a situation here in Boston where a young seemingly Jewish (by his name – never mentioned, by the way, as such) killed a young masseuse in cold blood. He was a medical student at the same school where a few years before, a violent former IDF soldier took lethal vengeance on a man he’d attacked with a knife, been sued about, and then refused to pay the damages. He’d been known in the Israeli military as a loose cannon. But somehow this did not prevent his getting into medical school in the US.

    The common thread is cowardice, the feeling of being powerful with a gun in your hand, in both these murders. Until we get people to recognize that all people have human rights and that killing innocent and unarmed civilians is a pollution of the nation that does it (is that Abrahamic enough?) by punks who wear that nation’s uniform, then nothing will change.

    The heart should break, so that it might understand.

  6. Nomi said,

    April 24, 2009 at 10:54

    “Inna lillahay wa inna ilayhay rajayoon” (we are from Allah, and to Him we must return). May Allah accept your martyrdom, and may He bless us all with such an enviable end. Aameen.

  7. Gillian Freeman said,

    April 24, 2009 at 13:00

    Open your heart to evil and you become blind I send blessings to the Basem and what it has done for the IDF is shown them as murders again. Evil lives amongst them and can not be controlled now it will be turned on their own and the land they want will never be theirs I feel that the time is coming to the end were Palestinian will become Israel as it is bathed in blood I feel that what is happening to us all is the rage of God so I pray for those who can not pray and listen like the IDF who are told they can do as they please because they are backed by their Govenment who are all murders anyway so it is the blind leading the blind. This man is with God. May God forgive those who know no better.

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