Nablus, occupied West Bank – Dunya Ghanem stood over her son’s body in disbelief.
“Come on, Jihad, my love. Get up. Let’s go home,” she coaxed him in the morgue on Monday morning, caressing her slain son’s face.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
She put her hand on his heart. “Jihad’s alive. His heart is beating,” she insisted to the dozens of family and friends who had come to console her.
“Just be patient for God’s sake,” she told them. “Jihad is just asleep.”
She grabbed hold of him as the medics tried to move his body into the morgue refrigerators, pushing their hands away and crying out: “He’s not dead! He’ll be cold in there!”
When her protests failed and it was time to bury 29-year-old Jihad Saleh, Dunya carried her son on her shoulders, leading the pallbearers, who were all men.
Dunya struggled to speak about her son as she cried. “I was dreaming of seeing him get married,” she choked out.
Jihad and 17-year-old Mohammad Qasim Abu Zar were killed by the Israeli army during a raid on the village of Zawata in the northern West Bank on Sunday night.
More than 20 Israeli military vehicles entered Zawata, west of Nablus city, precipitating confrontations during which the army fired live ammunition and tear gas at youth.
At least three people were injured, including one who remains in critical condition.
Hundreds of people attended Jihad’s funeral procession on Monday.
‘He loved life’
Israeli forces have killed at least 95 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and injured more than 1,800 since October 7, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.
On that day, the armed wing of Hamas, the group that governs the besieged Gaza Strip, launched attacks on Israeli territory. More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed.
Israel responded with a relentless bombing campaign on Gaza that has persisted for the past 17 days, killing 5,087 Palestinians there to date, including 2,055 children and 1,119 women, while more than 15,200 people have been injured.
In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Israeli army has stepped up its daily raids on Palestinian neighbourhoods, villages and cities since October 7. Killings of residents by armed settlers have also increased.
The escalating violence has sparked daily protests and confrontations against Israeli forces at checkpoints, military bases and settlements.
Jihad’s cousin Wa’ed Ghanem, 19, said Jihad used to be a labourer in Israel but had recently left his job and set up a coffee cart in his village.
“He was a simple person. He loved life. But after his cousin and closest friend, Omayr, was killed, he became a different person,” she told Al Jazeera.
Omayr Lolah, 19, was shot by the Israeli army in February and died of his gunshot wounds in March.
A total of 11 Palestinians were killed and more than 100 injured in the brutal Israeli raid on Nablus on February 23.
“Jihad stopped going out, stopped working, stopped being able to go on with his life after Omayr was killed,” Wa’ed Ghanem said.
Losing friends and family to Israeli raids is something most young people in the occupied Palestinian territory experience, the loss and trauma often scarring them for life.
Losing her child left Dunya unable to do much more than huddle in the arms of her relatives, but she said she was proud she could take him to his final resting place.