Intifada My Salvation
By Ussama Abou El Sheikh

The second intifada started three weeks after my school had started. I was then going to school without books. My mum had paid the money for my younger siblings since she thought that mine was paid from last year. My money was lost between the principle office and his assistant and I spent the first three school weeks from that office to the other trying to get my money, I got fines many times for not paying for my books. In my classes I was usually humiliated for not paying "if you do no have money why come to school?” I did not dare ask my mum to pay the money again. I know she has no money to pay and I am the man of the house as they call me and I am supposed to be helping her raising my younger siblings. I hated myself and felt angry at the whole world around me! I thought I would steal. Steal yes why not. I went to someone I know is a thief and asked him to go with him that night to get the money for the books. The money that I paid last year was stolen from me. I could not sleep that night. Steal? Me? Why? I did not do it before. I changed mind and woke up the next morning having decided to quit school and start working. I started searching for work. I went to the carpenters, mechanics construction builders in the camp begging for a work. Nobody encouraged me they all said they would work for a week and stay jobless for months. But what shall I do now?
At that time when I was looking for a job the intifada started. At start I felt that it might be my salvation from Shatila and from the miserable life I lead there. My salvation from poverty and my return to my homeland Palestine.

Shatila inhabitants expressed their joy for the intifada by demonstrating everyday. I participated in all the marches in the camp we used to walk crying out "our blood and soul is for Palestine!” Palestine is for the Arabs, I used to cry out as loudly as I could but as I go home I used to start thinking of the many generation that cried out those same chants. I know that at least our grandparents cried out the same slogans since they left Palestine. But Palestine is not back yet my grandfather chanted for Palestine, my father did and here I am chanting even the same slogans. But Palestine is never back. I thought that demonstrations would do us any good but again the next day I used to find myself in the middle of the crowds chanting the same slogans that my grandfather and my father chanted to Palestine that is still occupied. I go back home and decide that I will never share in the demonstrations but again the next day I do out of a need to cry out and vent my anger even if I was shouting slogans I don’t believe in.

One night and after the demonstration was over, news spread in the camp about a trip to the south to demonstrate against the Israelis. I agreed with my friend to go maybe it would be better than those chants everyday. I never told my mother about that trip all what I said was that I was going on a trip with my friends. I truly believed it was trip I never knew I was going to fight the Israelis. When I was there the leaders informed us that we will throw stones on the Israelis and maybe we will need to cut the wires. Somebody has to die "maybe the Arabs will wake up" as he said.

As we reached Zareit in the south we left the buses, a group of us ran and started to throw stones on Israeli soldiers who were on their posts on my homeland Palestine, the other stayed up in the hill. Manar TV station was waiting for us up the hill. Manar TV was waiting for us and also an ambulance. We started throwing stones on an Israeli soldier who was holding a teapot and heading to his post. As we started throwing him stones he throws the pot and ran away. I thought that the Israelis are coward why could not we defeat them till now?  If only the Arabs had united!

As time was passing I started to feel angry from those who stayed up his hill watching us fighting and I was upset at others behaviors. I thought "are we really going to free Palestine, can we with this mentality we have?"  But then I go back to throw stones and think from time to time whether what I was doing was right or wrong. Is it right to throw stones or not? But then I find myself throwing stones without being sure that I was doing the right thing.

At around noon, Hezbollah brought us food to eat I was again upset from the way my people behaved and I thought how are we going to liberate Palestine? But when they started to throw stones I started with them thinking if that was right or wrong. Hassan died and many were injured but we kept on throwing stones. At around three Hezbollah asked us to retreat. We threw the stones left the place and started our journey back to Shatila.

On my way back to Shatila I realized that I did not enjoy Palestine and all what I saw on the borders was that Israeli soldier. When I reached Shatila my friends were waiting for me in the neighborhood of Shatila and Sabra cemetery at the outskirts of the camp. I hugged them and ran back home. My mum and my siblings were waiting for me, they thought I was injured. I kissed my mum who was unable to talk then and then when I saw my little sister Ibtisam I hugged her deeply and started to cry. I cried too much not knowing why maybe because I thought that if I had died who would take care of my younger siblings, or maybe because I did not know whether what I was doing was right or wrong. I am still thinking till now whether stone throwing from the Israeli borders is an act of heroism? Did anybody wake up after the death of Hassan and Anas? I am still thinking till now and I don't know the truth.