Abed Al Raoof Mohtaseb shop
عبد الرؤوف المحتسب

“Business is weak here, there is no one. We feel like we are living in a tomb.” Abd Al-Raoof Mohtaseb is 58 years old and runs a shop close to the Ibrahimi checkpoint. His customers are mostly internationals, and he sees many Israeli peace activists and international Jewish visitors come to buy from the store and drink coffee with him. “We hope to live in peace,” he says, “but who has the power in their hands to give peace?” In the summer of 2015, a group of around 25 settlers attacked Abd at his shop and broke the craft. It was 11 o’clock in the morning, so the soldiers saw it but did nothing. They just told him to file a complaint. A settler had attacked Abd with an iron pipe and broke his skull. As a consequence, Abd now suffers from recurring headaches. The soldiers took him to the police station for an investigation. Abd insisted the notorious settler Baruch Marzel had been among the attackers, but the soldiers stated otherwise. The investigators decided to believe the soldiers and ruled that Abd was a liar. As a result, the file on him now imposes restrictions on his life and prevents him from going to Jerusalem. His sister lives there and he is not allowed to visit her. “They know they are liars,” he says. “Why not just be fair?”

During the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994, Abd was at home. When he heard what had just happened, he hurried to the Mosque to assist the wounded and bring them to the hospital. He mentions Arafat Albari, who donated blood to the wounded. He was shot dead by Israeli snipers outside the hospital. In the months after the massacre, Abd expected the government to punish the Israelis, but instead the larger half of the Mosque was turned into a synagogue and heavy security measurements were put in place for Palestinians. “The settlers control the area,” Abd says. “They are allowed to do anything, their opinions control everything.” During the interview with Abd, a group of settlers walk past his store and shout insults and taunts at him. They mention Baruch Marzel and the incident that happened some months ago. “Now you saw everything with your eyes,” he tells us.