‘You can take one step and we will take a matching step, in order to return our loved ones. Stop our suffering and yours’
According to Israeli news, these are the words of 14yr old Iman, a Palestinian girl whose father and uncle are held prisoner in Israel, in a letter to mother of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Whether or not you believe that a 14yr old can pen such reasoned and compelling prose, its compassion stands in sharp contrast to the words of Israeli president Ehud Olmert yesterday, as he ordered the Israeli army to use all force and spare no one in securing the soldier's return.
The letter, published in full:Madam, mother of the hostage soldier, Gilad Shalit:
I am one among thousands of children doomed never to enjoy a smile, a kiss on the cheek in the morning, a comforting hand to soothe our pain and encourage us to advance in life. I am a girl whose foundation stone was taken from her home, her father.
Madam, I am writing to you and waiting tensely to hear of the fate of your son who was in a tank, not to protect a cause or a principle, but rather to obey the instructions of his commanders without thinking if those instructions were right or not. Madam, it's your right to hurt, to be sad, to yell out loud, 'Return my son to me! What sin has my son committed?'
But do you have it in you to think of the important issue? This is the issue of our prisoners in your prisons, whose only sin was picking up a stone or a pen to protect their faith and their homeland, to protect a cause and principles in which they believe and will continue to believe. Not out of a motivation to kill or terrorize, as your leaders claim, but in order to protect our land and our faith.
Madam, tens of thousands of prisoners are locked in cells of suffering (your prisons), under fire of murder and cruelty, in rotten cells that burned their youth, their hope and their ambitions.
Our prisoners, Madam, do not receive humane treatment, but rather treatment that cannot be described in words; the sole purpose of the treatment is to bring them slow death, and this is after most of them did not even receive permission for us to visit them.
Compare your suffering, which has only gone on for a few short days, to our suffering, which has lasted more than 20 or 30 years. I'm sure that your son is receiving treatment due to a prisoner of war, decent treatment as is demanded by our faith and our principles.
Madam, that's all I have to say and the choice, in the end, is in your hands and the hands of your nation and their leaders to put an end to this suffering. These things can only be understood by someone who suffers and hurts.
Military and political leaders such as your leaders will not understand them; they have not experienced in their hearts what we are both experiencing, for everyone whose son is under their wing lives in ease and tranquility.
I call on Allah to protect our fathers and children. We are at a point where you can take one step and we can take a matching step in order to return our loved ones and hold them close to us. Stop our suffering and yours.
Iman, daughter of a Palestinian prisoner