30 Wednesday October 23, 2002
. Chicago Sun-Times
Man loses mother in Israeli incursion
Son in suburbs says
family targeted in
. West Bank; troops
BY CHRIS FUSCO
Rami Abu-Hijleh was working
with the U.S. government to bring
his parents to the Chicago suburbs
so they could meet his new wife
and get, away from the violence in
Instead, he spent last week in the
West Bank city of Nablus, attend-
ing funeral services for his mother,
who died Oct. 11 after his brother
and father watched Israeli soldiers
shoot her in the heart and neck.
Abu-Hijleh, a 30-year-old com-
puter engineer, returned home to
Mount Prospect Monday night
with a resolve to tell his mother's
story, hoping it will raise aware-
ness about the issues surrounding
a wave of Palestinian civilians
killed in the past two weeks.
At the same time, Israel was
reeling from another suicide
bombing Monday by Palestinian
terrorists that killed 14 innocent
people aboard a bus.
Back at his job at Motorola in
Schaumburg on Tuesday, Abu-
Hijleh condemned all the violence.
"I always will have hope for
peace, but my hope is diminishing"
he said. "We are 100 percent against
any kind of killing on both sides.
Rami Abu-Hijleh's mother,
Shaden Abu-Hijleh, was well-
known in Nablus, spearheading ef-
forts to feed the poor, promote lit-
eracy and even lead an
anti-smoking campaign. In 1967,
she resigned her job as a school-
teacher to protest an Israeli deci-
sion to alter the curriculum in
But the 62-year-old mother of
four and grandmother of three al-
ways was a peaceful activist, her
son said, even after Israeli-imposed
curfews began virtually shutting
down all economic activity in
Nablus, a city of 200,000. The Is-
raelis have seen curfews as a way to
stop suicide bombings by prevent-
ing terrorists from leaving cities.
But what happened to Abu-Hij-
leh's mother defies logic, he said.
She was sitting on the veranda of
her house with her husband, a
medical doctor, when gunfire rang
out from an Israeli jeep about 30
yards away. She died instantly,
and her husband and san, who also
lives in the house, were injured. ,
Responding in local newspapers
to the attack, the Israeli army said
the soldiers thought they were
fired upon and were firing back.
Regardless, Abu-Hijleh's death
and those of other Palestinians drew
a response from the Bush adminis-
tration, which submitted its con-
cerns to Israeli officials in writing.
"We've made quite clear our con-
cerns in the past several weeks
about dozens of civilians that have
been killed and the humanitarian
institutions that have been struck,"
State Department spokesman
Richard Boucher said last week.
"It's essential that Israeli forces take
steps to prevent tragic incidents like
those that have occurred over the
past week or so."
A local expert on Israeli policy
described the death of Shaden Abu-
Hijleh as "a tragedy" and said her
family is "utterly to be empathized
with." But Michael Kotzin, execu-
tive vice president of the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Chicago,
also defended Israeli initiatives in
the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"The Israelis are not trying to kill
civilians," he said. "They're trying to
protect themselves against a wave of
terror that's came their way."
When it comes to his mother,
Abu-Hijleh does not share that view.
"There were 15 shots in one area,"
he said. "They were aiming to kill
all three of them . . . And if they are
targeting people like my mom, I
don't think peace has a chance." ,
Abu - Hijleh hopes the message
he can spread can stem that tide.
His wife, Jayne Finch, already has "
been handing out fliers in the Loop
that attempt to get people to write
Congress about Middle East pol-
icy. Abu-Hijleh's family also is
contemplating legal action in fed-
eral court, claiming the Israelis
used U.S.-provided weapons un-
lawfully in their mother's death.
All four Abu-Hijleh children are
well-educated. One of Rami Abu-
Hijleh's brothers is a college pro-
fessor; another brother is an inter-
national businessman and his
sister works as an engineer for the
United Nations in Jerusalem.
"We're not going to accept what
happened and be quiet about it,"
Abu-Hijleh said. "My mom, she
had children that have a voice. . . .
We're going to keep on her path."
Contributing: Lynn Sweet
RICHARD A, CHAPMAN/SUN-TIMES
Rami Abu-Hijleh and his wife, Jayne
Finch, display a poster depicting
Shaden Abu-Hijleh, 62, who was
shot to death by Israeli troops.