For the last 15 years, April has become a month of tragedies and ugly scenes, which still live in the memory of the people of Nablus in general and the residents of the Old City in particular. In April 2002, Palestinian houses were destroyed and victims were buried under the ruins. The smell of death was all over the place.
April is marked for the anniversary of the Israeli invasion of the Old City of Nablus, during what was known as the Defensive Shield Operation, in 2002, and what accompanied that of crimes committed by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) during their offensive on the Old City. The houses were bombed by the IOF and were destroyed on their residents. The IOF soldiers committed massacres against many individuals and families, especially al-Sha’abi family which lost eight members.
The PIC reporter met Mahmoud al-Sha’abi, one of the members of the family, who happened to be outside the house during the incursion, to tell the story of what happened.
al-Sha’abi said, “I returned home after quickly after the curfew was lifted for hours to find that death has taken its toll on my family. My father, my sister, my brother, and his wife and kids were covered with blood, and their bodies were torn to pieces. Paramedics started transferring the bodies of the dead to the hospital to be buried later.”
While looking for survivors, he added, “We found my uncle Abdallah al-Sha’abi and his wife, the only survivors in the family.”
“My uncle and his wife spent a few days waiting for death at any moment. They believed that their death is definite under the wheels of tanks and shells that fell in the area,” he added.
Abu Mohammed Amoudi, one of the residents of the area, which hosted the house of al-Sha’abi, recalls the details of the events and the crime, saying: “We will never forget the details of the crime, and it will be remembered generation after another. What happened to the family of al-Sha’abi is beyond imagination, other than violating the sanctity of mosques.”
Amoudi added, “After 15 years, we still remember the scenes of death and the bodies of fighters and civilians which were all over the Old City and its neighborhoods, as well as the scenes of mutilating the bodies. The smell of death filled all corners of the alleys.”
Documenting the crimes
The house of al-Sha’abi became a landmark in the Old City, which is visited by those who want to learn about the massacre. The stories of the residents of the Old City and the narratives of paramedics, and the civil defense, which became a history itself, for those who seek to know about what happened in Black April.
As part of documenting the crime, a number of civil society organizations organized a set of events to remind of the ugliness of the crime. For example, organizing candle vigils, and photo galleries, which depict all events, in addition to organizing lectures and seminars about the issue.