Meanwhile, the boy’s name has long since been buried along with his body.

Just another forgotten Palestinian reduced to an anonymous number who joins the 199 other Palestinians, including 47 children, killed by an apartheid regime this year alone. Israel is determined not only to expel Palestinians from their ancestral homelands through illegal edicts and brute force, but to wipe them out in invasion after invasion and through attrition.

His name was Mahmoud al-Saadi. He was 18. His home was a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

A image by Mahmoud reveals a teenager with a thick head of close-cropped black hair and a cheerful, if slightly wry smile. A faint, thin black mustache was the unmistakable sign that this bubbly boy was about to become a man.

Last Monday morning, Mahmoud was on his way to school with some friends. His father, a relative said, had worked hard to ensure that his son and three daughters received an education as a way out of the lingering despair and towards, if possible, a “worthy future.”

“The occupation killed this joy,” said the relative.

Indeed it did.

On his way to high school, Mahmoud—who was top of his class—came across Israeli soldiers who, on the instructions of an apartheid state, again invaded Jenin in a convoy of armored jeeps.

Mahmoud decided to turn around and return home rather than, I think, risk the same fate as Shireen Abu Akleh, the well-known Palestinian-American journalist who was shot in the head while wearing a blue vest that read “PRESS” written on it by an Israeli. killer on May 11 in Jenin.

Mahmoud has not come home. (Sadly neither does a Canadian youth, Aryeh Shechopek, age 16, who was killed Wednesday while waiting for a bus on the outskirts of Jerusalem to take him to a Jewish seminary.)

Instead, Mahmoud was shot in the stomach by an Israeli soldier because he was Palestinian and close. An easy, convenient murder of a kid whose capital crime was apparently walking to school.

A wounded Mahmoud called his mates for help and told them he had been shot. They thought he was joking. He stumbled forward about five feet before coming to rest on the ground. In a panic, his friends took his bloodied body by car to a nearby hospital. He couldn’t be saved. He was pronounced dead at 9 a.m.

“A civilian succumbed to critical injuries after being hit by life [Israeli] occupation bullets in the abdomen, in Jenin,” the Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry described the killing as an “execution in the field” and a “heinous crime” sanctioned by powerful Israeli politicians.

A video taken at the hospital shows Mahmoud lying lifeless on a stretcher. Friends and family hang over his pale body, weeping. A man leans in to kiss Mahmoud, now wrapped in a shroud, on the forehead.

For Palestinians, it was a familiar scene of death, sorrow and mourning. But the murder of children undoubtedly makes that grief and mourning more acute and more profound.

It’s happened so many times before. A seven-year-old child dies fear after being chased by Israeli soldiers. Children flying kites have been shot and killed by Israeli soldiers perched on hills. Children playing football on the beach have been dismembered by rockets fired from above by Israeli pilots.

None of the killers have been held accountable. And they never will. Rather, they have been shielded and hailed as “heroes” for protecting Israel by murdering Palestinian children and journalists.

The predictable excuses will be challenged again to defend the unforgivable. Israel is not responsible for Mahmoud’s death; Palestinians are, for resistance to the occupation. Mahmoud was in the wrong place at the wrong time – as if he had a different place to live and study. Given the confusing cacophony of war, the Israeli soldier made a regrettable but understandable “mistake.”

Much of the international press treated Mahmoud and the violent, state-sanctioned manner of his death as unworthy of their notice or attention.

Just another dead Palestinian.

Western governments and their slick leaders who are always quick to denounce the killing of innocents by the usual “rogue” tribune have also gone silent for fear of offending a nation they believe has carte blanche to kill Palestinian boys and shooting girls.

It was, of course, left to the Palestinians to celebrate Mahmoud’s full life and condemn his sudden death.

Mahmoud was remembered as a generous soul with a “golden heart” who showed promise and purpose as a member of the Jenin Freedom Theater, where he was a mentor to younger students and a champion of “hope” over misery.

“Your heart was big enough to embrace the whole camp, the streets and the houses,” a friend wrote. “I think of you coming to the stage and joining the workshops to have fun and play. This is what hurts me the most, that the boy with a golden heart is gone.”

Mahmoud’s body – wrapped in a Palestinian flag – was carried up the streets of Jenin on an orange stretcher, followed by a crowd of chanting mourners.

At his feet lay a gray backpack. A poignant reminder of Mahmoud’s childhood and his intention to realize his father’s dream of a ‘worthy future’ by going to school.

Mahmoud should not be forgotten. Forgetting what happened to Mahmoud would mean accepting what happened to him and where and why he was killed. Accepting what happened to Mahmoud would mean accepting what happens every day to every captured Palestinian – young or old. Accepting what happened to Mahmoud would mean acquitting the perpetrators responsible for his death.

While others would like to forget and accept what happened to Mahmoud, we should not. Decency and history demand that we not forget.

You are keepsakes.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial view of Al Jazeera.



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