by Nathan Stuckey
8 March 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, Gaza
Thaer Abed Al Hameed Mahdi died on Saturday, March 3rd, 2012. He was 23 years old. A rope snapped and he plunged down a shaft to his death. He died instantly. His coworkers Jamal Kamel Mahdi and Raed Jaber Mahdi survived, they are still in the hospital. Jamal is in the European Hospital with two broken legs and a broken arm. Raed is in Shifa Hospital. His back is broken. Three years ago Israel slaughtered almost 1,500 Gazans, and nobody was held accountable for that massacre, and no one even talks of the hundreds or thousands that have been killed and injured in the tunnels since the beginning of the siege. The tunnels that are Gaza’s only link to things like cement, whose import into Gaza is forbidden by Israel.
Thaer was just a normal young man; he wanted what all young men in Gaza want, to get married, to have a family. Those are things that he will never have. Marriage and family of his own were always a dream for him, but a distant dream. The money he earned from his job working in the tunnels went to help his own parents and his eight younger brothers and sisters. He started working in the tunnels six months ago; there was no other work to be found. His family needed the money; their only income was his father’s job as a doorman at Al Aqsa University. Money was tight. He went with his two friends, Raed and Jamal, and got a job in the place they could find one, the tunnels.
Even this job was only three or four days a week, when he got the call, he went to work. He never knew what he would be doing, unloading the cement his tunnel imported into Gaza, or working underground in the hot airless tunnel. On Saturday, the three of them went to work, they got on the seat that they rode down into the tunnel and started the descent, the rope broke, they fell. Thaer will never get married; he will never see his own children.
This is what we heard as we sat in the mourning tent with Thaer’s uncle. This was the story of Thaer’s life and death. Thaer died when a rope broke, but he was killed by the siege that strangles Gaza. His uncle said to us, “The main reason for the siege is the division between Fatah and Hamas, the division must end. The youth must be given a chance to live a normal life.”
Nathan Stuckey is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement.