World sees Palestinian deaths as not as important as Israeli deaths, says grieving dad in West Bank

I spent the afternoon in the West Bank with a father grieving the loss of his 17-year-old son who was shot by Israeli security forces on 8 October.

Thaer Ali Kusbah cried and shook as he showed me the film of his son Yaser being shot in the back as he was running away after throwing stones – it was captured live by a TV news channel at the scene.

Last week, I spent the afternoon in central Israel with the father of a boy being beaten in the back of a truck by Hamas gunmen in Gaza. His son had been abducted from the Supernova festival on 7 October.

He too cried and shook as we watched the video filmed and distributed by Hamas.

The circumstances are totally different of course, but the pain of these two fathers appears identical, because grief is, well, grief.

The divisions in society here are deeply embedded.

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Yaser Ali Kusbah, who was killed by Israeli soldiers

Thaer Ali Kusbah meets Stuart Ramsay

They are not only partly theoretical – but also physical. And the separation by fences and walls does nothing to help understanding between the two sides.

The West Bank is separated from Israel by an enormous wall and a series of fortified checkpoints. It’s like a different world inside – in many ways it is a different world.

The scars of street battles at the wall and checkpoints greet you as you enter.

Violence is a regular occurrence here, and the tempo of rock-throwing and the response from Israeli security forces varies.

Thaer, whose son was shot, has also lost three brothers since 2001 in much the same way.

I met him at his family’s modest apartment in the Qalandia refugee camp, on the outskirts of Ramallah. The neighbourhood is adorned with posters of his son.

‘Where is the humanity in the world?’

Thaer, wearing a pendant of a picture of his son, says he feels like Palestinian deaths are not as important as Israeli deaths to the wider world.

A huge wall with a series of fortified checkpoints, separating the West Bank from Israel

Ramallah in the West Bank

“If a Jewish person was shot like this, all the international media, and Europe, and the UN and international courts would condemn this. Why?” he asked me, pointing at the video of the shooting.

“Where is the humanity in the world? The EU, western society, America, the Arab countries and Muslim countries. Where are they?”

In recent days, there have been dozens of deaths like this.

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Israel says it is using live rounds because of the deterioration in security in the West Bank since the Hamas attack in southern Israel. But this cycle of violence has gone on for decades.

In a compound in Ramallah, we watch as groups of Palestinian men wait to register their names with an aid organisation. The men are from Gaza.

Thousands of Gazans worked in Israel, but since the Hamas attack, Israel has revoked their paperwork and sent them to the West Bank. Getting to Gaza from the West Bank is impossible.

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Sky’s Stuart Ramsay reports from the West Bank

We met Mahmoud Abu Mariam as he tried to ring his family in Gaza. He’s been trying to reach them for days; he can’t get through. His daughter was born on 13 October, after the bombardment began.

He has lost track of his entire family – 30 people, including his mother, wife, and children. All he knows is that his home in northern Gaza has been destroyed.

Mahmoud Abu Mariam in the West Bank, trying to call family members in Gaza

Stuck in limbo

Mahmoud believes he may never see any of them ever again and may never meet his daughter.

“My wife was pregnant, she’s now given birth. I’m here and they are displaced. I have never met my baby, haven’t touched her. I haven’t had any contact with my wife to check on her health.

“And now they are suffering from a lack of water, lack of fuel, electricity, shortage of bread. Things are really, really bad,” he told me.

Displaced Gazans stranded in Ramallah

Mahmoud is hardly alone. There are thousands of others like him, stuck in limbo.

Senior figures within the Palestinian movement say the treatment of these workers is indicative of Israel’s disregard for their well-being.

Mustafa Barghouti, the president of the Palestinian National Initiative, told me: “Thousands of workers were dumped into the West Bank, some of them were arrested and brought in, some others were kicked out simply.

“And now they are separated from their families in Gaza, and they don’t know what’s happening to them there.”

He added: “It’s a very dreadful situation and many of them are now scattered in the West Bank, also living in horrible conditions, and we’re trying to help them in every possible way, but the biggest problem is that they are separated from their families, and they don’t know what to do.”