Funeral of murdered Mustafa Tamimi ends in more IOF violence and savagery

This has been one of the darkest and most disturbing days I have ever had to experience. The funeral of Mustafa Tamimi, murdered by the IOF at a demonstration at Nabi Saleh on Friday, ended with the IOF shooting endless rounds of the teargas canisters that killed Mustafa at unarmed mourners, beating and arresting people with impunity as they walked across Nabi Saleh village after the funeral.

Nabi Saleh, a small village of only 550 people, has been organising non-violent protests against the theft of their land since 2009. The illegal Israeli settlement of Halamish has continued to grow and expand since 1976, and the tiny village has been holding the demonstration for two years protesting against the confiscation of the village’s main water supply, the Kaws Spring. Nabi Saleh has become infamous for its violence and arrests against Palestinians, but until yesterday nobody had been killed there by the IOF.

Mustafa, a 28 year old Palestinian activist, died on Saturday morning after being critically injured when a tear gas canister was shot directly at his face from the inside of an armoured Israeli jeep only ten meters from where he was standing. The tear gas canister ripped through one side of his face causing a massive brain haemorrhage, and despite initial optimism he would survive on Friday night, he tragically passed away on Saturday morning.

I was initially supposed to be going to the Golan Heights today with the other volunteers from ICS, but when a funeral march was organised from the hospital where Mustafa died back to his village, I knew there was no way I could go and enjoy the tourist trappings of the Golan Heights on this terrible day for Palestine. Having always followed the tragic events that happen here, I had heard many times of Palestinians murdered by the IOF, but since being here the Palestinian struggle has become my struggle – when Mustafa died I felt my heart breaking at this unnecessary and cruel loss of life, and wept last night as if he were my own.

Around 200 people marched through the streets of Ramallah this morning carrying Mustafa’s body, wrapped in a Palestinian flag with a kuffieyeh to cover his head. As his body was laid in the ambulance, we got into a service to follow it to the village. On the way there, I called an activist friend of mine to let her know where we were going, and she warned me to be careful. I assured her that there was surely no way that the IOF would be able to unashamedly devastate the funeral of a young man with violence. I now realise just how naive that was, and how deeply I underestimated the savagery of the Israeli army.

By the time we arrived in the village of Nabi Saleh, there were more than 2000 people who had joined the funeral procession, the men carrying his body above their heads with cries of ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is Great’) and the chilling howls of the village women calling Mustafa’s name echoing through the tiny village streets.

We saw Mustafa’s sister walking distraught but defiant, with tears wracking her face, and his father being held by both arms by men around him, almost unable to walk, crippled by his grief. This was the death of a martyr for the Palestinian struggle, and the devastating effects of his death could be seen in every face I turned to.

His body was carried through the streets to his home for a final goodbye, to the mosque where the funeral prayers were spoken, and then eventually to the grave overlooking the beautiful Palestinian valleys on the outskirts of the village. My flatmate wanted to say some prayers for Mustafa so we walked back towards the mosque, but when we returned to the cemetery I was surprised to see the mourners had dispersed, when suddenly I recognised the acrid smell of tear gas fill my nose and my stomach turned as I realised what was taking place.

As I sprinted down the rocky terrain towards the entrance of the village, I saw elderly women and children running back up the other way, their faces blotchy and red with burning tears, doubled over and wretching as they tried to move away from where the army was firing. Unarmed mourners who only moments before had been grieving tears for their lost son, were now being attacked by the Israeli army with round after round of tear gas and being sprayed with skunk water, a foul smelling liquid unlike any waste sewage you have ever smelt.

As I moved closer to the protesters, I asked what had happened and they explained that the ten Israeli army jeeps I could see in the distance had arrived during the funeral, and were placed there to taunt and goad this grieving village. In the distance I could see the young men throwing stones at the army vehicles, a symbolic gesture expressing their deep anger against the death of their brother and against this cruel and twisted occupation.

Suddenly, I heard a loud crack and all around me the silver tear gas canisters that had killed Mustafa were being shot directly at where I was standing with other activists from ISM, and we ran up the road through clouds of billowing tear gas smoke, desperately trying to avoid the path of these silver bullet-like objects.

We were called up the road by a Palestinian from the village and he pointed down the hill to the east of the village where another unit of IOF soldiers were standing languidly at the bottom – waiting, goading, intimidating – knowing that the Palestinians would not stand by as another group of soldiers occupied their land on this day. We ran down the rocky slope where at the bottom the women who earlier had been sobbing and lamenting the death of Mustafa were now screaming into the faces of these IOF soldiers, holding his picture to their faces and demanding to know which one of them had killed their brother.

As I stood taking photographs of this painful scene, time suddenly collapsed into itself when I saw one of the soldiers smirk and tear the poster of Mustafa from a woman’s hands and rip it into pieces at the same moment a sound bomb exploded next to me, quickly followed by a tear gas canister that had been thrown and detonated at my feet. My face, my head, my mouth, my whole body was suddenly filled with tear gas and I ran away blindly as my face scorched from the gas and I felt like my head was going to explode on itself. I couldn’t breathe nor see nor think of anything apart from the burning that filled my lungs and head, and in the panic and confusion I ran as fast as I could from the canister.

But no demonstration I have attended here could have prepared me for the scene that was unfolding when I finally managed to regain my balance and ran back up the road to where the soldiers and Palestinians had gathered.

IOF soldiers were savagely beating anybody within their vicinity, three or four soldiers at a time grabbing men and throwing them to the floor, kicking them violently and stamping on their heads. As I stood back from the scene taking photographs, a soldier suddenly lunged towards us entirely unprovoked and threw one of the ISM activists I was with against the barrier of the road, doubling him over it as his body crashed to the ground. I screamed in his face WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING YOU ANIMALS and he shoved me out the way and turned back to the group of soldiers that has amassed to join in the violent spree.

As they tried to arrest more and more people the group of strong and defiant Palestinian women we were with threw their bodies over the men they were trying to drag away, and the soldiers began dragging these women by their hijabs, their clothes, wringing the necks of the men who were under this pile of women and trying to pull them from underneath. Covering and protecting the bodies of those trying to be arrested, the women were screaming so loudly for the soldiers to stop and this sound pierced my heart more deeply than any sound bomb could ever have done.

As I stood a few paces back from what was happening, my whole body was wracked with uncontrollable sobs as I helplessly looked on as the scene unfolded. Never in my life have I felt more powerless, weak and unable to do anything to intervene in the horrific scene that was playing out in front of my very eyes. The soldiers there were like savages, no remorse in their faces as their murderous hands grabbed and pulled the bodies of these innocent people who had come that day to mourn the loss of their brother.

After arresting three and beating many more, the group was forced to retreat back up the hill we had come from, running from the soldiers as they fired round after round of tear gas after us. A tear gas bomb exploded directly at the feet of one of the protesters, and inhaling the thick plumes of smoke he began suffocating and collapsed on the ground. As people gathered around him trying to help him, the soldiers who were watching what was happening started firing tear gas directly at the group that was helping the unconscious man, and they were forced to drag his body up the hill to escape.

We spent the next twenty minutes dodging tear gas as we made our way back up the hill, until eventually things began to calm so we made our way back to where the protest had  begun originally, and the violence there too had dissipated.

As we sat in the service on the way back to Ramallah, I came to understand what the word ‘shell shocked’ really means. My mind was almost numb as we drove through the Palestinian valleys, unable to truly comprehend the things I had seen. It was only when I got back to my flat and recounted what had happened to my anxious flatmates that all my anger and distress bubbled to the surface once again, and I sobbed uncontrollably as I tried to understand what I had just experienced.

Knowing that this level of violence is what the Palestinian people have experienced for 64 years, almost powerless against the brutal, mechanised force of a murdering Israeli army, serves to only more deeply cement my hatred for the IOF and the terrible things they inflict on the wonderful people I have spent the last three months with. Its difficult to put into words the grief and humiliated anger that I feel as I sit here writing this, and yet I still cannot believe that the Palestinians are so strong and defiant against this savage, repressive force.

The injustice of the occupation courses through my veins, and I cannot begin to get my head around the mentality that would allow the Israeli soldiers to act as they did today. As one of my flatmates said, the IOF have no respect for the living, so why would we think they would have even an ounce of respect for the dead? What I saw today was humanity at its very worst, savagery that I did not think possible. Yet still knowing that this is only scratching the surface of the suffering experienced by Palestinians as they try to defend their lives, their lands and their homes hurts me more deeply than anything I have experienced in my life.

This is not propaganda. This is not my opinion. This is an account of a terrible scene that should only reinforce how destructive and cruel this occupation really is. Those who try to explain or justify the behaviour of the Israeli army are as complicit in these actions as the soldiers perpetrating these terrible crimes. Silence is compliance – I will not be silenced.

‎”I loathe my enemy. I will never forgive, I will never forget. People who say such hatred transforms a person into a bitter cruel shell know nothing of the Israeli army. This hatred will not cripple me. What does that mean anyway? Do I not continue to write? Do I not continue to protest? Do I not continue to resist? Hating them sustains me, as opposed to normalizing with them. Their hatred of me makes reinforces the truth of their being murderous machines. My hatred of them makes me human.” – Linah Alsaafin

In our thousands, in our millions, we are all Palestinians. RIP Mustafa Tamimi – you will never be forgotten.


32 thoughts on “Funeral of murdered Mustafa Tamimi ends in more IOF violence and savagery

    • You are a brave girl. We are proud of you.

      We share your thoughts in the death of Mustafa, a martyr in the fight for freedom and justice, though we are in the opposite side of the globe.

      May God bless the soul of Mustafa and may He reward you for your faith and struggle.

  1. Holly, as your Dad I am riddled with mixed emotions.
    Whilst I fear for your safety, I am so proud that your beliefs are so strong as to put yourself in real danger to witness what are truly disgusting scenes. I feel for Mustafa’s family. What has happened to Mustafa, and subsequently at his funeral, needs a broader exposure in the Western world. It is now clear to me that the IOF, amongst others, are acting without any form of moral compass and their actions are barbaric. They need to be held to account. This is how you can help the brave Palestinian communities.
    Holly, please forward your piece to the British press and please be very careful.

    • Sir, you have an amazing daughter. I only hope my own children can do half as much as she has done to bring to the attention of the world the hatred that flows through the blood of these so called Israelis.

  2. Thank you. I have been following Mustafa’s tragic injury and death very closely. As a long time supporter and observer of Palestine I did not think I could be shocked any more-but this savagery does. Thank you for telling us about something that is truly beyond words. From California, all solidarity. Mustafa, you will not be forgotten.

  3. Extremely powerful holly and exactly what the world needs to hear. There is no shame in crying, in fact, how can one not weep at the atrocious happenings around them? The occupation is a crime against humanity, we are all human, therefore we should all be striving to put an end to such madness. Just like you are, and I know you will be for years to come x

  4. Holly, this is a very powerful piece of writing and anyone reading it should be feeling anger and shock but anger can make a person reckless, so whilst I wouldn’t urge you to reel in your emotions or be silent, I would want you to be careful. You have experienced just how dangerous intolerance and deep rooted hatred can be, and you are right in the middle of it all. Be wary, that’s all I want to say to you, I cannot tell you how much I admire you and people like you. If it is possible for you to pass this account onto the British press or a journalist, then do so. Exposure is always the best thing you can give a bad situation. Take great care x

  5. I wept reading this. The worst thing about this occupation is that people are still debating its legitimacy – I hope that articles like yours will help to show everyone that there can be no pretence of justification for such cruelty. It’s just so incredibly sad that of all the states in the world, Israel could do this. There is so much irrational and incendiary racial and religious debate around this conflict; but the facts are clear, Israel is the aggressor here, and regardless of the mainstream press, remember there are many of us around the world that (with the help of people like Holly) see the truth, and support the Palestinian people in their resistance.

  6. I cannot express how deeply moved I am by your writing, I was crying whilst reading this . I haven’t experienced any pain that needs to spread like that. Be safe, and I will do anything In my power to make people more aware of this situation. Thanks you are truly couragious- Peace activist from England

  7. Amazing is not even the word .. you have written what you have seen and felt .. but i am sad that no one will ever do anything about it !! Lets make everyone aware of this and in my eyes you are very brave .. proud of such a personality !! Keep up the good work

  8. Holly, yours is a very powerful account of what’s really going on in occupied Palestine. As Rosemary writes, “you are truly courageous”. Keep telling it how it is, try to be careful and stay safe, even though that is paradoxical, given the situation where you are.

    Take care – Ian L

  9. I felt as powerless as you while reading your report about the happenings in Nabi Saleh. The people of Brazil are with the Palestinians. Please, don’t give up and go on with the peaceful demonstrations. You will prevail. Love from Brazil.

  10. When I compare your report from the funeral with the short cold notice in Ha’aretz I recognise the arrogance and racism of the privileged societies. It is humbling to realize how little support Palestinians are given for such a horrendeous struggle.

  11. Truely remarkable entry Hols, I am overwhelmed not only with sorrow for the people of Palestine but equally filled with pride at your courage and passion.

    ”In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins – not through strength but by perseverance.” H. Jackson Brown

  12. I was greatly saddened to hear of Mustafa’s death. Now this savagery at his funeral. Is the IOF completely devoid of common decency? I am afraid their acts show that they are. Service in the IOF is destroying the humanity of the young soldiers. This is such a clear indicator of how the Occupation is destroying the very soul of Israel. There is only one way out–to stop the Occupation and end the suffering of the Palestinian people.

  13. very powerful. your pain and courage in the face of brutality and inhumanity speaks volumes. that palestinians have been living with this for years…a shame on mankind.

  14. Holly – As I read your powerful words I felt your deep pain,anger and sorrow. For many years I have been consumed with anger about the Jewish state, the state that says it is my homeland. As I write this the tears come to my eyes, tears of anger and frustration and pain for the Palestinian people who have been made to pay a high price for the European anti-Semitism that lead a handful of Zionists to want a Jewish state in a land where few Jews lived.
    Thank you for your work with the Palestinian people. Be safe.

  15. Looking forward to talking to you when you get back Holly. While I don’t agree with all the views you have posted about this conflict (in general I mean, clearly the account above is purely factual) I respect the fact that you are taking action based upon your beliefs.

    Just try and remember through your “hatred” that even seemingly mindless and indiscriminate violence always has a cause or function. Identifying this cause or function does not make one an apologist for the violence, rather it is the only way to come to any real and meaningful solutions. Rene Girard wrote that “”When unappeased, violence seeks and always finds a surrogate victim. The creature that excited its fury is abruptly replaced by another, chosen only because it is vulnerable and close at hand.”

    Stay safe and see you soon


  16. This is so powerful it takes one into the struggle and allows us to be there with her.
    What is obvious about this is that it describes cowardice. Absolute cowardice. It shows some lawless absolute cowards acting drunk and brave with the death they can rain on this earth, knowing all along that they are dealing with defenseless humans.

  17. Joel, yes, there is always a reason for violence and sometimes that reason is simple barbarism, or sadism but I think we can say with certainty that when one person dehumansies somebody to an almost sub-human level – and when they are encouraged to believe that this is, in fact, good – that this is almost a service of the state; then in that sort of enviornment the very worst aspects of man can manifest themselves.
    I find your comments a tad unsettling because although you argue that you expand on the cause is not to be an apologist for voilence, that sounds excatly what you are doing. I trust you are not one of these people that pushes the plainly absurdist, facetious lie that the Israeli army is the most ‘moral army’ in the world, as opposed to one of THE most immoral , which it has demonstrated time and time again. Clearly Holly is emotional and shaking with anger, I can completely understand her anger. I would hate the people who did that too…and the fact that, by some terrible irony, they are Israeli Jews, a people who have suffered historically from being dehumanised themselves, should not stop us in the slightest from hating them to their very core. I dont need to ‘understand’ these poor young fellows and why they might enjoy stamping on innocent peoples heads for kicks, I have had all the spin and excuses and appologetic words I can stomach – rammed down our troats daily by a heavily biased media and by people who contine to way a fig leaf of morality in front of the Israeli military.

    Holly, thank you for sharing your powerful words and your experience. It would have been much easier Im sure to roll up into a ball and shut everything out. It is absolutely VITAL that stories like this get told, that victims do not get forgotton. You have honoured them with your commitment and your passion and I salute you. If only the world had more people like you and less cynics, it would surely be a better place.

  18. You are a role model for our children, and I echo what your father has said. The story also made me very angry, so angry in fact that I rang the local consulate here in Merida Mexico, and guess what, they gave me the run around. They obviously listenned into my first call as I was put onto the wrong section three times, plus twice the “person” was out of the office. They really are a bunch of cowards, they hadn’t even got the guts to let me speak to anyone who wasn’t Mexican. Talk about Irony. they have a story on their internet page asking Cuba to, and here is the actual words they use: The United States calls on the Cuban government to “respect all peaceful activities related to the commemoration of Human Rights Week,” says State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland in a press statement issued December 14. I wonder if Israel received the same e-mail that the US sent to Cuba. They woudn’t know peace if it fell on their heads….Your story has only reinforced my hatred of all kinds of violence for the sake of violence. I spent 20 years in the British Military and with my hand on my heart I can swear that I never did harm to a human being, and if faced with the choice would not do so. These people are not soldiers, real soldiers protect, not attack people, they are insult to humanity. It is time for the world to wake up to reallity, the reality that is the murdering machine they like to call “Israel”. If I can in anyway help you, let me know.

  19. That is a truly excellent piece of writing Holls. I journeyed with you and felt your justified frustrated anger and pain. I look forward to learning from you and hopefully I can go back with you when you go, meet the lovely people who’ve looked after you and helped you understand your politics- we can make a film to help bring this into the public domain.

    ”…the point, however, is to change it.”

    Your Dad’s comment was very touching.

    Love you. J

  20. Holly, please will you finish this with an accurate account of how you spent your last few days in Palestine, and if you will be returning to Israel or Palestine?
    It is my understanding that you required the services / input from the British Consulate, and Khaled the ICS Director, for your actions.
    Also, that you caused profound dismay amongst your colleagues and co-workers, as you were seen as over-emotional,highly irresponsible and inappropriate, and went off on a “one-woman mission”.The general opinion expressed by others there was that there was a feeling that you had profoundly damaged local relationships in a misguided atempt at “helping” an inflammatory situation.
    If the above information is incorrect, I apologise, but that is how it has been explained by others.
    If you are going to report HONESTLY, doesn’t that mean giving ALL of the details rather than ones you select?

    • You obviously dont know Holly very well Jenny and clearly havent done any proper research into the situation or you would know that she was highly respected amongst her collegues at Birziet University. I would have thought it would have been more respectful to have spoken to Holly rather than post this inflammatory comment and then add that if it is incorrect ‘I apologise’. I think you owe Holly an apology as you have been unfairly misguided by a couple of people who would just prefer to sit on the fence and critisise anyone who is prepared to put their neck on the line

    • Hi Jenny,

      As you have got every single one of your facts incorrect, I will respond to your statements accordingly, and then I will expect the apology I deserve.

      I think what you are referring to is my arrest with another ICS volunteer by the Israeli military when we were peacefully protesting in Nabi Saleh village, a week after the events described above took place. Palestinians, Israeli activists and internationals sat down together outside the entrance to the internationally-recognised illegal Halamish settlement, and we were arrested by the most “democratic” state in the Middle East for simply sitting down in our peaceful protest at Mustafa Tamimi’s murder. We were kept in hellish custody with our hands bound for 17 hours, as they attempted to force us to sign declarations written in Hebrew and admit to “crimes” we simply did not commit. Me and my colleague – two young British girls – were eventually thrown out on to the street in Israel with no phone, money or coat in the middle of the night by Israeli police, miles from Ramallah. A video of my arrest is below if you would like to see exactly what happened:

      Khaled (not the British Consulate) attempted to get us out of jail more quickly, but was not able to due to the fact that Israel acts with impunity in these situations. Of course they tried to help which was greatly appreciated, and is what would be done in any situation where British nationals were arrested for “crimes” we did not commit.

      I have not yet written about this experience on my blog because as you may know our flight back to the UK was the next day. It was an incredibly traumatic experience and I was glad to be at home with my family, and have taken a well-earned rest over the last month as I reflect on my time in Palestine. It is not your place to demand what I do or do not write.

      I repeat a comment above that I had the full support of my Palestinian colleagues at Birzeit in the actions I took so to say local relationships have been damaged is simply a lie. This was presumably told to support the misguided values of the volunteers you spoke to. I often attended demonstrations with Palestinian colleagues from Birzeit, as our project was the Right to Education Campaign – as a campaign, activism of course falls under the activities of the students. They have written a letter of solidarity against the suspension of myself and my fellow volunteer which has been sent to ICS, and will support our disciplinary process.

      Needless to say the Palestinians who lead ISM of course support my work with them. It may be worth mentioning that in addition to working every week day at Birzeit, I used all my free time at the weekend and in the evenings to work with ISM.

      As someone who I presume hasn’t visited Palestine, your authority to comment on my actions is incredibly weak. When you are willing to take significant risks to support a cause that you passionately believe in, then perhaps you may have something to say. As it is, your complete lack of emotion in posting your comment on this article in particular – one of the most horrific and harrowing things I’ve ever experienced – simply shows your heartlessness. It is very well to criticize from an outside perspective about how “rational” and “emotional” people are, but the events I described above have no rationality and no humanity, and shocked me to my very core. It is only someone with no empathy or regard for human beings, seemingly like yourself, who would not respond in the way I did to the many terrible things I witnessed in my time in Palestine.

      It appears the ICS volunteers at the Return Volunteer Weekend gave you an incredibly misguided account of what happened in the three months we were away. It is indicative that they took this platform to share their thoughts when I was not there to defend myself. I have written extensively on this blog about my thoughts on people who are “pro-solution” and are focused on international aid in Palestine, so I will not repeat myself again. They chose their path, I chose my own. If you have something specific to comment upon in the rest of the blog, then feel free to do so.

      Until then, I look forward to receiving your apology.

      • I apologise if my information was wrong; indeed I did when I posted it.
        My information/opinion expressed by others came from Palestinians,in Ramallah, not ICF.

    • Holly, I was just rereading this account and remembering that day. I’m sad that someone made you feel you had to justify yourself. As Palestinians we were happy to have you and unlike many internationals I never felt you appropriated leadership in the struggle. The whole idea to go out to Halamish was a proposition by a group of Palestinians, and then we went out to seek internationals and Israeli activists to stand in solidarity which you did. Love you Holly & I hope things are good for you. I was in Qalandia yesterday and saw a staggeringly similar de-arrest yesterday at the global march to Jerusalem from here and it made me look up your account again.

      Thanks habibti & take care,


  21. An “inflammatory situation” was that when an unarmed youngster got his head blown off by a heavily armed IDF soldier? Or was it when people went to protest about this injustice?

    Or was it when the IDF started firing on the crowds who attended the funeral?

    “He who allows oppression shares the crime”
    Erasamus Darwin grandfather of Charles

  22. In a foreign country, illegally occupied by the forces of another foreign country, British citizens are arrested by the illegal occupying forces and held in detention against their will, but not charged with any illegal act.

    The very least I would expect is for British Consular/Embassy officials to do their duty, which seemingly they did, in doing so they enlisted the aid of other “connected” parties.

    Isn’t that what these officials are paid to do amongst their other duties?

    Inferring something else is perhaps duplicitous to say the least – or does Jenny have another agenda?

  23. Incredible, isn’t it? This person “Jenny” attributes all kinds of things to Holly, mostly inferring that she is not writing truthfully and cites as her evidence hearsay from persons or person unknown.
    Arguably, that’s libel.

  24. i hope you’re enjoying being home holly. i bet you miss your friends in palestine and they miss you. looking forward to your next post.


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