Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Court Declares Israel Acted in Self-Defense in
Brutal Slaying of Professor Kahled Salah and Son in 2004
Genevieve Cora Fraser
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, August 8, 2010
It all seemed so hopeful in January when I visited Salam, the
widow of murdered Palestinian professor Kahled Salah, in her new home in
America. She described how six months earlier, five years after the
attack, she had been summoned before an Israeli court in Jerusalem for a
hearing into the deaths of her husband and their 16 year-old son,
Mohammed. Her hope was that there would soon be a trial in open
“I want justice for Kahled and Mohammed,” she said.
“I want the world to know what the Israeli soldiers did.”
early hours of July 6, 2004, Dr. Salah and his teenage son were gunned
down in cold blood in their Nablus home by Israeli snipers. Earlier
that evening, 1,000 Israeli troops had gathered to hunt down known
resistance fighters who had been spotted in the neighborhood. But
after they were killed, at some point, the order was given to turn their
efforts on the Salah household.
Nablus is both a valley and
mountain community, with a 3,000-year Old City and modern market places
and shops located in the valley, and terraced homes and apartment
buildings constructed along the twin North and South Mountains. The
Salahs lived on Asikka Street on Al-jabal Al- Shamali Mountain, the North
Mountain. Across the valley is the South Mountain, also know as
Atour Mountain where Moses was reported to have been handed the tablets,
the commandments set down by God. But on that evening in the summer
of 2004, the doctors living above and below the Salahs were quietly
evacuated while the trap was set to ensnare the professor and his family.
Neighbors later informed Salam that the week before, the IDF had
been making inquiries into where the Salahs lived. Professor Salah
received his doctorate from the University of California, Davis. Both he
and his wife had permanent US residence status and two of their children
were born in California. And despite offers to live elsewhere, he
had returned to Palestine with his family and was instrumental in
establishing the Engineering Department at An-Najah National University in
Kahled and his son, Mohammad, had appeared on
Israeli television stating that Palestinians and Israelis should fight it
out on soccer fields, not with guns. Kahled had never owned a weapon
and believed in reason, not violence. He was a noted peace activist and
always prayed for his children to live in peace. But he had a
premonition he shared with Salam that he would be martyred.
visited the family in Nablus exactly six months to the day after the
attack. Salam, along with her daughter and a young son who survived the
attack, had moved in with her mother to escape the memories that haunt her
to this day. But on that day in January 2005, Salam drove me to the
apartment where they had once lived in peace. Her home had been her
pride and joy. The happy couple had fallen in love in college and
invested in carpets and hand crafted ceramic tiles and other luxuries to
blunt the hardship of their lives under occupation. Now, blood
soaked the rolled carpets. Israeli snipers who had perched on rooftops and
balconies surrounding the apartment entered, following the killing, and
rampaged through their home. The kitchen, bedrooms, bathroom, and living
room had been sprayed by machine gun fire. Clothes were shredded and
pots and pans were sieved with bullet holes.
described that night of horror when the metal front door was welded shut
by the heat of missiles fired from tanks and helicopter gunships.
She showed me the spot where the family huddled in the dark and made phone
calls pleading to make it stop. She showed me her bedroom window.
It was open that night as her husband stood pleading for their lives and
was subsequently gunned down. Mohammad rushed from the protection of
their hiding place to help his dying father. Shots were fired, and
the son soon joined his father in death as Salam cradled them in her arms.
She pleaded with the soldiers to allow her neighbors, the doctors, to
attend to her dying husband and son, to allow the ambulances gathered at
the scene to take them to the hospital. She was ridiculed, and her request
was denied, until they were confirmed dead.
Finally, an Israeli
judge ordered a hearing on the circumstances surrounding their deaths.
The court scheduled the hearing on the exact day, the fifth year
anniversary of the killings. Despite the anguish of memory and
despair, Salam believed that at long last justice would be served.
She traveled back to Palestine to meet-up with her daughter who still
lives in Nablus. Even with the court order in hand, it took three
attempts before they were allowed to pass through the checkpoints to get
to Jerusalem. But they finally made it and testified before the
judge, sparing no details about the brutal attack.
called Salam just to say, Hi, and asked if she had heard anything from her
lawyer. Her voice was filled with despair. The court had met
twice since her visit, and her request for a trial was denied. “They
claim the soldiers acted in self defense,” she said. “They had
“How can that be –one thousand soldiers against
unarmed civilians?” I asked.
“I was told an Israeli soldier
died in the raid, and that it was only right that Palestinians should die
too,” Salam explained in a monotone. She was obviously drained from
“But your husband and son had nothing to do
with the resistance fighters,” I said dumb-founded. “So, what do you
plan to do?”
“How can I seek justice, if I can’t take it to
trial?” Salam asked. “Israel has all the power. It is a form
of torture - what they are doing to me. But I will not give up.
I plan to appeal. I will keep fighting until justice is served for
Kahled and Mohammed,” she stated emphatically.
Genevieve Cora Fraser, a human rights and environmental activist, is
the author of the soon-to-be released, "Palestine: Waiting by Lazarus'
Tomb," a 561 page collection of her prose and poetry published from 2003 -