When horror strikes

A few days, a month tops, may be all that is needed for Ghisab Nasasreh’s wounds to heal. However, his five-year-old nephew, Azzam will no doubt need a considerably longer amount of time to recuperate from the horror of watching two Israeli settlers from Itamar beat his uncle before his eyes.

"Azzam would run a few meters away from me and then rush back and hold on to my clothes, trying to rid me of them," says Nasasreh. "He was screaming and crying, but the settlers continued beating me without paying any attention to the child’s screams."

Nasasreh was attacked by settlers as he was herding his sheep in his town of Beit Foureek in the Nablus area. Azzam spent the next half hour " the time it took for the settlers to brutally beat his uncle " running back and forth, now trying to escape, now trying to help his uncle.

The incident took place at five in the afternoon on August 8. Two settlers, dressed as Israeli security personnel and carrying M-16s, had approached Nasasreh, who was about one and a half
kilometers from the village and two from the settlement.

"As usual, I was herding my sheep on village land," says Nasasreh, a father of eight. "My nephew Azzam came with me that day. While we were working, two settlers came out from the olive groves.
There was only a short distance between us and I could see that their guns were aimed at me. I knew we would be attacked, but I asked them in Hebrew what they were looking for and if I could help them with anything. They didn’t say a word."

Nasasreh takes a moment to compose himself and tries to ward off the pain from the multiple wounds to his head and body before he continues, "I knew that they had come for one purpose so I started to walk away with the child. One of them yelled at me to stop and I did. His companion came over to me, and hit me hard in the chest with his gun. The other stood watching with gun pointed at me."

The first settler continued to hit Nasasreh until he fell to the ground, blood pouring from his head and body. Azzam was screaming and crying, running aimlessly back and forth, helpless to do anything. The settlers, heedless of the traumatized child, continued to beat Nasasreh.

"A few minutes after I fell to the ground I could feel that I was losing consciousness. Azzam came towards me and started shaking me, telling me that they had gone. I tried to get up but they returned and started beating me again. One of them took my right index finger and bent it so forcefully that I heard it crack and I lost consciousness."

Nasasreh says he awoke at the sound of Azzam’s frightened voice and his tiny hands shaking him into consciousness. His nephew kept saying that the settlers were gone and had taken the herd with them. "I tried to overcome my pain and starting walking through the groves very slowly until I got to the first house I saw. There, people took me immediately to the hospital."

Nasasreh suffered from five gashes to the head, which all needed stitches. Most of his upper body was severely bruised from the blows he had received.

The settlers did not lay a hand on the child. Instead, they let him watch while his uncle was being beaten to within an inch of his life. While his uncle tells and retells the story of that day, the child has remained silent, unwilling, or unable, to put what he saw into words.