Palestinians Confront Escalating Violence In Jerusalem After Attacks
KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:
Israeli security chiefs held an emergency meeting today on the ongoing violence there. Today, at least three Israelis were killed in separate attacks. The violence is proving to be especially hard to stop. The attackers often act alone and wield low-tech weapons like knives. NPR's Emily Harris met the families of two accused assailants.
EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Ishaq Badran was shot and killed by Israeli police last Saturday. Police say he stabbed two Israeli civilians as they walked near Jerusalem's Old City. Since then, his family has been greeting mourners in a tradition tent outside their home.
QASSAM BADRAN: (Speaking Arabic).
HARRIS: Today his father, Qassam Badran, went to the street where his son was killed to ask shopkeepers what they saw. He believes his son was being harassed by Israelis, picked up a knife from a juice stand, used it somehow and was shot. Qassam Badran said his son studied at a good technical school, loved to swim but had been watching a lot of TV and videos about the recent rise in violence in Jerusalem.
BADRAN: (Through interpreter) The video that bothered him most was of a woman who was stripped of her headscarf before she was killed in the Old City. He showed it to his mom, saying, look at those cowardly Jews; look what they're doing to our women.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Speaking in foreign language).
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Screaming).
HARRIS: The video he mentioned was of an 18-year-old Palestinian woman. Israeli police say she had stabbed an Israeli last week before the Israelis shot her. The video starts with her lying on the ground surrounded by Israeli police. You can't see whether she's wearing a headscarf. You can hear what sounds like screams and shots. Written accounts on Arabic news sites claimed an Israeli took off her headscarf. Qassam Badran says he would've felt angry if he had seen this.
BADRAN: (Through interpreter) I would've felt the same way my son did, but I don't think my response would've been the same.
HARRIS: What's the difference, I ask.
BADRAN: (Through interpreter) I am 40, and he is 16.
HARRIS: Banners outside the family home honor his son as a martyr for the Palestinian cause. Political factions have these banners made and hung at the families' homes. On one banner, there's a picture of Ishaq holding a knife. The family says they don't know where the photo came from.
I also visited the home of the family of the girl in the video that made Ishaq upset. Shoruq Dwayat is injured and in Israeli custody. Her mother, Samira Dwayat, has heard the story that her daughter's headscarf was removed.
SAMIRA DWAYAT: (Through interpreter) I think the reaction of any Muslim woman in that situation would be to push, to hit but not to stab.
HARRIS: She says she can't really guess exactly what happened until she talks to her daughter. That hasn't been possible. She saw the 18-year-old in court today but had no chance for contact beyond a smile and a blown kiss. No charges were made, she said, although police reports on that day said she stabbed an Israeli man in the back. Older sister Haneen says she can't believe her little sister could attack anyone.
HANEEN DWAYAT: She's very cute, small, beautiful and very nice, thin and short. I don't believe she do anything about this.
HARRIS: Mother Samira, though, does feel strongly about what can tip Palestinian anger. First on her list is what she calls defending the Al-Aqsa Mosque from an increased Jewish presence. The mosque sits on a site holy to Jews as well, and access to that site has been what touched off this latest flare-up in violence.
S. DWAYAT: (Through interpreter) First is the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Second is our religion and protecting our rights, like wearing our hijab. Third is the Israeli attacks on children and others. This builds a response that is backfiring on Israelis.
HARRIS: The reactions of these stunned families differ starkly from that of Israeli officials. They blame Palestinian leadership for encouraging these attacks, even if they are committed by individuals acting on their own. Back at Ishaq Badran's home, both Hamas and Fatah have hung their flags, claiming him as a hero and one of their own. Emily Harris, NPR News, Jerusalem. [POST-BROADCAST CLARIFICATION: In this report, a Palestinian father is quoted saying his son was angry about a video showing a woman who was stripped of her headscarf "before she was killed" by Israeli police. In fact, as we reported later in the story, the woman was not killed. She was injured and is now in Israeli custody.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.