A crippling siege could not erase the integrity of an entire people, as evidenced by one Palestinian man earlier this week.
Jawad Mansour is a father of five who has fallen on tough times. It appeared that luck was working in his favor when he stumbled upon a stash of $30,000 USD on his way to work. But despite his difficult financial circumstances, he made sure that every single dollar was returned to its rightful owner.
Mansour, known also as Abu Waseem, even refused to accept the reward, citing personal principles.
Abu Waseem has worked for eight years as a municipal caretaker in the Gaza Strip. He can often be found sweeping streets and watering plants along the road for a mere $200 USD per month.
He makes barely enough money to provide for his family.
On his way to work on December 29, Mansour found $30,000 USD abandoned on the road. He immediately set off to find the money’s owner.
That same day, a man identified as Abu Muhammad filed a report with Gaza police. He had attempted to make a deposit at a local bank when he found that he was short $30,000 USD.
Abu Muhammad works as an accountant for the Yazji Beverage Company, Gaza’s main PepsiCo affiliate and distributor. Palestinians for decades have been familiar with the carbonated drinks packaged and sold by the large company.
Abu Muhammad had been sent to transfer money into the company’s bank account. His worst fears were realized when he found himself empty-handed as he approached the bank.
The officer that took Abu Muhammad’s complaint was skeptical at first.
“He told me that my story is unbelievable, that it didn’t make sense,” recounted the accountant.
The officer offered to help search Abu Muhammad’s car in case the money had accidentally fallen between the seats, but to no avail.
Abu Muhammad left the number to his mobile phone at the station, requesting that the officer contact him if a good samaritan returned the money.
It was at around this time that Mansour found the money on the road.
After reporting the missing money to the police, Mansour demanded that he be the one to return the cash. That way, he could ensure that the money was delivered to its rightful owner.
When Abu Muhammad arrived, Mansour asked him to describe the arrangement of the bills.
With tearful eyes, Abu Muhammad explained that he had been the one to lose the $30,000 USD.
“They were in three stacks of money,” he described. “One of the three stacks contained four $50 bills.”
Mansour handed him the money. The two men shook hands in a moving display of gratitude and honesty.
“These belong to you.”
In an interview with Al Quds TV, Mansour explained some of the difficulties he faces and how helpful the money could have been had he kept it.
“I work on Salaheddine Road where I water the plants along the street. If a car hit me, what would happen to me [and my family]? I could have hidden the money.”
A municipal custodian who is frequently ignored by passerby, Mansour is now known around the Gaza Strip for his noble act.
Despite his financial hardship, Mansour refused to accept a 10% reward from the Yazji company. Instead of walking away with $3,000 USD, Abu Waseem said that his reward is with God.
One of Mansour’s friends and co-workers shared that there were times when Mansour did not even have money to eat. He would borrow 2 NIS, the equivalent of $0.51 USD, for a breakfast sandwich.
Mansour is one of tens of thousands of government employees who do not always receive their paychecks on time or in full due to the effect of Israel’s siege and blockade on Gaza’s economy.
Nevertheless, Abu Waseem wanted to make clear that his actions were a reflection of the integrity and honesty for which Gaza’s population is known.
This story was based on a news report from Al Quds TV.