Dr. Hashem Azzeh, z”l
Dr. Hashem Azzeh died in Hebron on October 21st, suffocating from tear gas fired by the Israeli Army and inability to get medical attention because Israeli forces do not allow Palestinian vehicles to drive on the streets near his home. Dr. Azzeh was well-known and beloved by many activists around the world who spent time in Hebron. JVP Rabbbinic Council member Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb here shares her remembrance of him and his family.
Dr. Hashem Azzeh, z”l
By Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Dr. Hashem Azzeh, a man with great courage, was killed near his home in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of al Khalil/Hebron on Wednesday, Oct. 21.
I stayed in his home with several other artists while painting murals in Hebron. Like hundreds of other internationals hosted by the ever generous and dedicated Dr. Azzeh and his wife Nisreen and their four children, we witnessed first hand the profound emotional, economic and social cost that occupation imposes on individuals and families. Dr. Azzeh, like most Palestinians, lived everyday of his life resisting occupation through sumud (steadfastness): he chose to remain in his house, on his land, next to other members of his family despite all odds.
Dr. Azzeh was proud of his wife’s paintings of the stones of Hebron and wanted to set up a cultural center to promote and encourage young people and women to stay connected to their cultural heritage. He worked tirelessly on behalf of his family and community to secure their human rights. Since the closing of Shuhada Street due to the murder of 29 Muslims by Dr. Baruch Goldstein in 1994, his Jewish neighbors stole his land, cut down his fruit bearing trees, slashed and burned grape vines on his porch, broke windows in his home, terrified his kids by constantly harassing them on the way to school, beat up other family members, destroyed furniture and personal property inside his home, smashed his head, broke teeth with the butts of their guns and delivered frequent verbal abuse, all directed to forcing this family to abandon their home. With so much daily terror directed toward his family, he still refused to leave.
The IDF compounded the violence. They never intervened to stop vigilante settlers and no settlers were ever held accountable for the crimes they committed. Instead, the Israeli Army invaded his home on a regular basis, and set up major check points in his neighborhood. They refused to allow his family to park a car next to their house or even enter the house from the front door. They assaulted him, imprisoned him frequently, and finally, sprayed him with the tear gas which suffocated him.
Dr. Azzeh, Nisreen and their children embody the spirit of Palestinian resistance. Even facing such brutality on a daily basis, they never lost hope that freedom would one day return to their lives and the Occupation would end.
I pray that the death of Dr. Azzeh will encourage people to continue to strive for justice and human rights for Palestinians as well as Israelis and that Jewish leadership will do a much better job of facing the truth of Occupation and its deadly impact. Dr. Hisham Azzeh, may his memory be a blessing.
To support the family you can make a donation here.
NOTE: this donation is solely for Dr. Azzeh’s family and was not set up by JVP