Ibrahim Ayoub, Mohammed's father
14-year-old Mohammed Ayoub was shot in his head by an Israeli sniper on 20 April during the demonstrations. He was getting psychosocial support in school from NRC in Gaza.
“A kid like Mohammed, what crime did he commit to earn this punishment? They executed him. What did he do? Was he carrying a rocket and planning to fire it at Israel? He was a 14-year-old boy going to watch the protests, just like any other child.
It is his right to watch and know that he has a land and a country. He should understand that. Why did you punish him and execute him? How far was he from you? You shot at him while he was surrounded by hundreds of youth. Why did you target a child like him standing in the centre?
Do you enjoy executing children? I don’t understand what is going on. Why children? There should be some humanity here. You should have some conscience. If he was a young man, we could ignore this fact, but a child? What did he do to you?
Even if he was a young man, it is his right to express his feelings about his land and country. It is not your right to do this, this is a peaceful protest. In all countries around the world, when there is a peaceful protest, it is respected and valued.
They are not protesting using weapons or bombs. They are there because they want to express their opinion. They have rights, they’re expressing themselves and it is a peaceful protest. What right have you to execute children?
When they decide to punish the soldier, they issue a one-month sentence. What’s with that? You’re executing a child! A child! A soul! You’re killing a soul. Then you sentence your soldier for one month? Is that his punishment? As for Mohammed, he went on a peaceful protest and he was watching and he did no harm to them [Israelis]. What right have you to execute him?
Are we going to stay like this? Our children get executed and we do nothing. What did these children do to the soldiers? What kind of punishment is this?
Honestly, I have never treated Mohammed or his siblings as a father. You can ask the neighbours, I treat my children as my friends. We play together here inside the house. Sometimes we dance together. They used to have a computer, we would play some music and start dancing together. They weren’t my children, they were my friends.
Mohammed was a polite child and caring, too. He was naughty and I admired his naughtiness. It was very light-hearted and witty.
Honestly, Mohammed didn’t leave me. When I am sitting here, I can see him flying around me. He is engraved in my heart. Every time my heart beats, I remember him.
He used to wake me up every morning at the dawn prayer. To be honest, if he hadn’t woken me up every time, I would have missed the prayer. It’s like he is an alarm clock. He wakes me up saying: “Wake up and go pray,” I do pray regularly, but if Mohammed doesn’t wake me up at dawn, I miss it.
After we pray at dawn, he starts his own party inside the house and I got used to that. I wake up every morning now in silence and I just cannot bring myself to accepting it. I am used to having Mohammed wake me up and start wrestling. He prepares my tea, sits down and we spend a good time.
Then his siblings wake up and the entire parade starts. I am used to it. I miss this now and I can’t get used to it. I miss him in the morning.”
Photo: Ahmed Mashharawi/NRC