Two deaths one hour, thirteen minutes, and thirty-nine seconds apart

In his final moments, Muhammad Abu Daher, 16, clutches the right hand of a man desperately shouting for help. Muhammad would die in that position, exactly one hour, thirteen minutes, and thirty-nine seconds after Nadeem Siam Nuwara, 17, was gunned down by Israeli soldiers the very same way.

One down. It’s about 1:30 now. This will teach them a lesson they won’t forget.

Nakba Day demonstrations are normally sore experiences. Commemorating decades of mass displacement, land theft, and military occupation is mentally excruciating. But the physical toll was put on display during this year’s protests in the West Bank village of Beitunia when three teens and a young man took bullets to the torso one after the other. Four attacks, all isolated. Three critically injured, all systematic. Two dead, families torn. One in stable condition. Luck was on his side today. The hole in his left lung will heal.

It’s almost 3:00 in the afternoon. They haven’t forgotten but let us remind them anyway.

Footage of the killings has been made public. The quality of the videos pulled from CCTV cameras is good enough to verify that afternoon’s dreadful turn of events. Boys, shot by Israeli soldiers with an intent to kill.

Their blood is cheap. They are not wanted here.

Muhammad took his final breaths standing on his feet. He had been walking aimlessly, seemingly unfazed by the murder he had witnessed just over an hour ago. He walked toward the second camera. He paused, swayed and turned his back, and slowly shuffled away. The bullet pierced his back. Within moments, a crowd of Palestinian men surrounded him and moved him to safety. Many of these men had done the exact same thing in the exact same spot earlier in the day.

Two down. Mission accomplished.

But not quite, soldier. Despite the sobering and vile reminder that the spirit of the Nakba — a spirit of dispossession as it deals with land and with life — persists to this day, the deed could not be hidden. Not this time. No amount of fir trees planted by the Jewish United Fund can cover the tracks of a machine built to intimidate an entire population into silence. No amount of whitewashing with stolen salty seawater can soften the jagged edges of broken human rights. No amount of mourning can distract Palestinians from their willingness to make the necessary sacrifices to secure their freedom.

Do you copy? [Silence.]


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