Mahmoud is Dead - Mahmoud is Dead

Category: Life & Society Views: 1948

Mahmoud Amer Turkman is a friend of mine. He never spoke a word to me. He couldn't. A bullet left a hole in his throat wide open. He only gestured, but between his hands and eyes, he could do miracles.

I can testify to that. I wrote about it several times in the past. I wrote about it in April of last year when I first met Mahmoud. He was jammed with several other Palestinians in a Jordanian hospital room. He, and one other young man were the only wounded from the Jenin refugee camp that were allowed to leave the Occupied Territories. The distance between Jenin and Amman is a few hours drive. But it took Mahmud 22 days to finally reach his destination. His resilient ambulance driver carried him from a tiny Jericho clinic in the West Bank to the West Bank's border with Jordan, now controlled by Israel, 22 times. Each time, the Israelis would interrogate Mahmoud. He had nothing to say. Finally he was allowed entry.

He arrived to Jordan after he had lost half of his body weight, waiting at the border. He slept on his hospital bed, light as a feather, lost in what seemed to be a massive hospital gown.

I also wrote about Mahmoud then, appealing to the world to help him. His doctors said that the bullet had destroyed much of his lungs, broke its way to his back and left him completely paralyzed. They said that advanced medical technology in Europe would help save his life. Mahmoud and his family waited to hear from me. They prayed for a miracle, for a living conscience. I had nothing for them, but my own prayers.

When I met Mahmoud Amer, I was on my way back to the United States, a month after Israeli border police told me that I was unwanted in my homeland, that I would not be permitted entry. It had been a month of almost daily trips to the border when I decided to go back to the States.

Only two weeks had passed since the Israeli invasion of Jenin, in early April 2002. The purpose of my West Bank trip was to conduct an eyewitness enquiry into the atrocities reported there. I was motivated by my worries that the Jenin story might never be told in the way it ought to, by the victims. I waited at the border as I watched many ambulances from the West Bank, carrying wounded Palestinians, all being ordered to return, amid screams of pain and pleas from ambulance drivers.

Before I boarded my plane back to Seattle, I stopped for a brief visit to the hospital ward where wounded Palestinians were kept. I waited in a long line. There were several officials representing various Arab governments who were ahead of me. A few journalists escorted them. Luckily, their visits to the Palestinian wards didn't last for long. There were clearly there for the photo opportunity. The wounded youth were little impressed.

Strangely, for me, it felt like home. A man from Balata refugee camp, with explosive bullets in his chest bombarded me with a flood of jokes about the people of Gaza. I am from Gaza, so I wouldn't let it slide. "Did you know about the man from Balata who was invited to a wedding?" I rebutted. I finished my joke and was hit by another, from a wounded boy from Hebron in the other side of the room. This gave me even more room to fight back. I was sitting near Mahmoud's bed. My journalistic mission was overshadowed by the laughter of the wounded. "Mahmoud has just smiled," his brother cheered. Others felt inspired that he might even soon eat without the help of tubes. Others went as far as predicting that the young man would one day talk.

Mahmoud was wounded in early March 2002, while defending his camp. He was shot twice, once in the foot, and the second in the throat. Between both injuries there were two days. Mahmoud snuck out of the house to fight for Jenin with a bullet in his foot, only to be shot again with a bullet that would paralyze him. I told Mahmoud about my Jenin book and he listened. It mattered a great deal to him that the story of his camp would be detailed, for the world to see. He too had a mission, "I want to get well so that I can go back and defend Jenin", he wrote. Mahmoud had no political affiliations. He left school to help his ailing father take care of the remaining children of the family. During the invasion, his home was demolished.

I left the hospital wishing I possessed the courage of that young man. I too vowed to put up a fight. I also wrote about this, just a few days ago. I wrote, "Tomorrow, I intend to call Mahmoud. I will tell him that "Searching Jenin", the "important book" I told him about during my visit, was published. I will tell him that the voices of the victims have finally escaped the Israeli censurer; that the faces, the images, the numbers and the stories will finally be told, that thanks to his inspiration, Palestinians are no longer standing on the periphery, praying that others will narrate their plight. Now, they will convey the stories themselves, the way they ought to."

I did fulfill my promise, and called the next day. I had the book on one hand, ready to translate parts of the chapter where I detail my encounter with him in Amman. Yet, on that same morning, Mahmoud died in a decrepit hospital in Jenin.

His family had given up on getting Mahmoud the medical attention he deserved. All they hoped for was to get him to a Ramallah hospital. Israeli army blockades, however, even snuffed out this simple wish.

I wish I could say that Mahmoud died with a smile on his face. He didn't. He was in so much pain. Moments after his death, hundreds of people broke the siege and rushed to his family's home. They cried, chanted and wrote Mahmoud's name over the walls of the camp: "Jenin mourns its latest martyr, Mahmoud Amr Turkman."

On that same day, Jenin witnessed a battle that lasted for 12 hours, between Palestinian fighters from the camp and a large number of Israeli troops, tanks and Apache helicopters who attacked the camp looking for activists, listed on their endless list of "wanted" Palestinians. The Israeli army was forced to retreat, however. Hours later Jenin celebrated its victory and buried its fallen hero. A mix of chants occupied the misty air of the demolished refugee camp, chanting for 22-year-old Mahmoud, promising him to continue the fight for his sake and for the sake of their long-awaited freedom.

*Baroud is editor of "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion 2002". The book is now available online: 

  Category: Life & Society
Views: 1948
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Older Comments:
was mahamuud a jew?
if yes that is graet but i never thought, though i know allah yahdii man yashaa, a single of them can become a muslim at this moment becouse at the time of prophet the time of mufadalah the only jews accept islam ware very view.
if not islam does not teach this kind of condolence


Very SAD!

This article should be read to the criminals that control the "muslim" countries. Cause it's their inaction, greed, and inability to work together that lets this sort of thing go on.

The answer to muslim problems are in muslim hands.

it is the best way to die
Subhan Allah


mahmoud's shadath wake up me ,i want do die in
the path of islam.