This past January a ten year old Palestinian girl, Abir Aramin, was hit by a rubber bullet fired by Israeli Border Police as she was making her way home from school in East Jerusalem.
According to an account by Donald Macintyre writing in the Independent of London, Abir was with her sister and two friends after buying chocolate at a grocery shop having just finished a math exam. One of the friends, 12-year-old Abrar Abu Qweida, said an Israeli Jeep passed them in the opposite direction and she noticed a gun protruding from the rear.
Moments later, she said, she heard a loud bang and like Abir’s sister Arin, 11, hunched her shoulders in an instinctive reaction. She said that Abir fell forward. A boy who helped to take Abir into her nearby school handed the Israeli legal rights agency Yesh Din a rubber bullet he said he found under her body.
The official investigation into the girl’s death was closed quickly by Israeli authorities without any prosecution or explanation of how it happened.
Abir’s father, Bassam Aramin, is a former Fatah militant who — long before his daughter’s death — renounced violence to devote his time to fostering peaceful dialogue between Palestinians and Israelis. Despite his grief he has used the killing of his daughter to further his reconciliation efforts with the help of a group of Israeli ex-soldier friends in the unique organization, Combatants for Peace.
The group, composed largely of former combat soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinians involved in armed resistance, is working to build a playground in her name at Abir’s former school as it seeks justice in the form of a legitimate criminal investigation into the causes of her death.
Watch this video for background on Combatants for Peace.
The fundraising for the playground has only started recently. Former fighters will work side by side to build the site, showing the world the possibilities of peaceful, productive collaboration between Palestinians and Israelis. The project plan was designed voluntarily by landscape architect Judy Green and can be viewed here. When completed, the school grounds will include two play areas, a ball field, fruit and olive trees, a memorial fountain, and numerous places for children to sit, play, and talk.
The entire project can be funded for only $25,000 and more than $7,000 has been raised already. Click here to donate and find out more about the uniquely inspirational stories behind the Combatants for Peace.