Text by Clara Tarrero
Annas was 23 years old and the fourth in a family of eight siblings living in Hebron city in the West Bank. He was the manager of the family’s shoe business and responsible for looking after their income. He also worked selling trainers in the family’s shop in Jericho to tourists. On November 7th 2013 he was killed by an Israeli soldier while crossing a checkpoint by car.
Annas was a dreamer and had a tremendously important role for his family. Full of innovative ideas and good ambitions he was the funniest son, and the family comedian. Always attentive, gentle and caring, he was also the one “lifting the mood” when some of children were sad or worried, with his famous jokes and his hilarious noises.
“You shot an innocent person and destroyed a whole family’s life”
Annas and Ismail were two very close brothers. At the end of September 2013, during the Sacrifice Feast (known as Eid al-Adha), Ismail decided to postpone his wedding which was already booked for November. The idea was to find a lucky fiancée for Annas so both could get married on the same day in April 2014, the new date set for a special and unforgettable day for the whole family. The dream was a challenge for all the family but the wish was attractive and realizable. Annas was such a special person and loved brother that every effort would be worth it.
At that point, the family had not the slightest idea that one month later the entire dream would collapse in just one second as a bullet hit Annas in the chest.
The two brothers used to travel weekly to manage the family’s shops, located in different cities around the West Bank. They needed to cross Israeli checkpoints constantly. This had never been a big fear for them despite all the time spent and the persistent annoyance caused by the soldiers with their inspections each time they crossed the checkpoints.
But on a Thursday in November of 2013, this young man had his life brutally interrupted. As usual, he and Ismail were going back home after spending part of the working week at the family’s shops in Jericho and Jenin. Annas was really exhausted due to a sorrowful start to the week. Three days earlier, all the family had buried his cousin who had died suddenly of an unexpected health problem. The already painful week was also marked by a lack of sleep and more trips around the West Bank than usual.
Annas was sleeping so deeply in the passenger seat, with his feet up on the dashboard, that he could not even hear his phone ringing several times in his pocket while Ismail was driving with the sound of Annas snoring. When the car reached the Eizariea checkpoint container the car passed over a bump, Annas woke up quite confused. Then, the car stopped at the checkpoint and, still extremely sleepy, he opened the door and got out of the car to stretch his body. Unbelievably, this simple innocent gesture was enough for a soldier to shoot the unfortunate bullet that made his strong young body topple to the ground. He died instantly.
From that moment, his family has struggled to come to terms with it, but their nightmare continued. The family had yet to deal with the father’s heart attack, followed by delicate and complex heart surgery, just a few months after the incident. Added to that, the sequence of events caused their financial situation to change drastically in a short time, since none of them were in a condition to think about the family business and they also lost their permission to move from the West Bank to Israel. And until today, the death of their son and brother has shattered the daily lives of the Al Atrash family.
The Israeli military alleged the incident occurred “when Annas charged IDF police forces with a knife in a hand”. Family and Human Right groups asked for an investigation. Los Angeles review of Books reported in an article about the incident that an Israeli police spokesman told them that checkpoint security camera footage that might shed light on Annas’s death would not be made public. “There is no investigation under way”, the spokesman wrote in an email.