West Bank marchers mourn dead teen, dying peace
April 28, 1997
Web posted at: 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT)
From Correspondent Jerrold Kessel
KHARAZ VILLAGE, West Bank (CNN) -- Hundreds of Palestinians marched Monday to remember a young man whose death caused many in his village to give up trying to revive what they see as a slowly dying peace process.
Issam Akabneh, an 18-year-old high school senior, was shot dead Sunday night by Israeli soldiers during a brief clash in their West Bank village. He was the first villager to die fighting Israelis in this village. Even during the long years of the intifada uprising, there were no fatalities here.
As Issam was buried late Sunday, attendees shouted angry chants, vowing to continue the struggle against Israel. At their more somber march Monday, villagers paid their respects, and talked about whether peace has any hope, and what Palestinians should do next.
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"This peace is shown to be only talk, there is no peace," the teen's father Mahmoud Akabneh said. "I so wanted my son to be a doctor, but I'm not sorry he died trying to stop the soldiers."
"You will put your head in your hand and you will cry, cry, cry," said a young villager. "What can we do? We have stones, they have guns."
So often in these conflicts there are two distinct versions of what happened. In this case, however, there are no real discrepancies. Kharaz is in the part of the West Bank still under Israeli army control, which means that under the original peace agreement, the Israeli army is allowed to patrol.
But the Israeli army is in a fierce standoff with a neighboring village, home to the bombers who struck a Tel Aviv cafe last month. That village is still being blockaded, and the army has evidently been showing muscle next door in Kharaz, too, even though most of its 6,000 people basically support Yasser Arafat and his peace strategy.
Young villagers, angry at the Israeli army's frequent drive-throughs, have been trying to block the narrow roads. When the soldiers ordered the barriers removed, the youths stoned them, and in turn, the soldiers opened fire.
"Our people are not willing to see the Israeli forces entering their village at any time. They need to just see the Palestinian Authority in their village," said Dr. Yousef Barmawi of the Palestinian Authority.
"All of them (support) peace, but they don't like to face such a situation that if any boy or child throws a stone, the Israeli forces kill him at once," he said.
Now that blood has been shed, the shouts of Kharaz villagers are less about peace, and more about revenge. "The solution is war, we need another intifada," yelled one mourner. "We tried to have peace with them -- they refused."
From the dead youth's sister: "Our Palestinian Authority is helpless in the face of the Israelis unless they give us guns to fight them."
And black and red graffiti scrawled on walls in the village and signed by the Islamic group Hamas promised vengeance. "Your blood will not be spilled in vain," it read. "There will be no peace."
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