My name is Ikhlas Ishtaya and I live in the village of Salem in the Nablus District. I’m 30 years old and there are 8 brothers and sisters in my family. My sister and I were born blind. In my childhood, I went through several failed treatments, until finally my parents sent me to a special boarding school for the blind, where I learned to read and write.
On the morning of Friday, 11 October 2013, I woke up and saw many missed calls from my mother. I called home and my mother said the four worst words into the phone: “They murdered Dad overnight.” I didn’t understand and she had to repeat her words. Two Palestinians, 19 and 21 years old murdered my beloved, strong, handsome father with 41 axe-strikes.
My brother, Mahmoud el Khatib, was wounded in the heart on the 27th of August 1989 at the age of 17, when I was 18. He was on his way to our uncle’s house half a kilometer away from the main road. As Mahmoud was walking, some youngsters gathered together, threw stones and shouted. The soldiers were far from them on the main road.
I never had the courage to write letters to the editor or articles for the newspapers. I am doing it now for the first time out of a sense of calling. From the bottom of my aching, bereaved heart, I hope I can convince others to join us in the Israeli-Palestinian Bereaved Families’ Forum for Reconciliation and Peace.
My mother, Shoshana Galili was a pacemaker. I didn’t know that when she was killed by terrorists who infiltrated Kibbutz Shamir, in the height of the Yom Kippur War. I was 22 years old and we had just started to cement our relationship as two grown women. I didn’t see then how beautiful she was; I didn’t understand how much wisdom she had. The people of the kibbutz did recognize her talents and used to turn to her when there was need to resolve issues and disputes. And she, delicately and caringly, would bridge divides and chasms.