When you find your missing son being murdered in a viral video

Jehan Alfarra

While tweeting about a friend who lost his entire family yesterday, I saw repeated and persistent tweets sent by a dear friend, Mohammed Alqattawi, to Joe Catron, asking him to respond as a matter of urgency.

Feeling restless and uneasy, I asked Mohammed in a private message what was so urgent and if there was anything I could do, but he only asked for Joe’s number. I gave him the phone number. “We’ve been looking for my cousin from Sheja`yea for 2 days now,” Mohammed messaged me back a few minutes later. “We just watched a video that Joe tweeted of an injured Palestinian shot by an Israeli sniper while searching for his family. It is my cousin.”

Having watched that video earlier in the day, hearing that just took it to a whole new level for me. The nameless, wounded, innocent soul taken so outrageously by an Israeli sniper on camera, in front of the rescue team, and during the hours of a humanitarian ceasefire, belongs to my friend’s cousin. “I clicked on the link to watch the video, and his mom and sister swiftly recognised him by his voice,” Mohammed continued, “and his dad came running and watched his son get shot and say the shehada.”

My body went numb as I read these lines. Already up though the night mourning a friend of mine, now I am mourning another. Salem Shamaly and his family got split while evacuating Shejai`yea neighbourhood in light of Israel’s latest massacre in the area. And ever since the rest of the family made it to Mohammed’s home, him and his uncle have been looking for Salem everywhere. They spent all of yesterday searching Al Shefa hospital and asking around, but to no avail.

Senseless loss, however, is not a strange notion to Gaza and its people. Submerged in grief, Mohammed’s uncle got up to pray and read some Quran, hoping God will grant him some sort of sublime patience he needs in order to calm his wailing daughters. Salem was only 20 years old, the only son to his father and the only brother to his 7 sisters. To the international community in general and the western world in particular, which seems to be overlooking Israeli war crimes and violations of the International Humanitarian Law over and over again, Salem is but another number added to an already overflowing toll of Palestinian deaths. To his friends and family, Salem will always be the precious gem he has always been.

34 responses

  1. Faradina

    this really breaks my heart at one point yet gives me the strength to pray for them, always.

    July 22, 2014 at 9:46 am

  2. Syeed Sheikh

    I too watched that video, I was shocked. He got martyred reciting shahdah and will be in jannah. He is alive , God will rest his soul in Peace.
    Israel will perish soon.

    July 22, 2014 at 10:59 am

    • Sumeyya Maljee

      I am waiting for the day that justice will take place. I ask God to allow the innocent martyrs take their revenge on these heartless monsters who will burn in HELL for EVER! I long to see that day!

      July 22, 2014 at 10:52 pm

  3. Ikram

    Shejaiyea massacre should have been the slap-call for the world to intervene . how long do innocent Palestinians have to put up further for those in charge to set an end to their unbearable pains . حسبهم وحسبنا الله .

    July 22, 2014 at 11:13 am

  4. i am soo depressed after i watched tht viideo seriouslyyy i dont knw wat to say… wen will this oppresion end… may ALLAH help pelestinians… the world has fialed them

    July 22, 2014 at 12:59 pm

  5. Canadian Joe

    As tragic as the video appears to be, I am unable to, with any degree of certainty, determine that the sniper who shot this young man is Israeli. Just as those on the scene are unable to say with certainty who it was.

    July 22, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    • berra

      Do you think that hamas has killed him ???
      Be realistic man and stop watching bbc and cnn

      July 22, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      • Canadian Joe

        Why not Hamas?? Do you really believe that Hamas isn’t hiding cowardly behind the civilian populace?? Do you really believe that Hamas isn’t hiding it’s weapons and rocket arsenals inside of schools, hospitals and in the middle of civilian residences?? Hamas wants the Palestine civilians to die so that they can garner more outside support but more importantly, so that they can use the anger of the civilians to recruit members. Cowardice by Hamas is all I continue to see.

        July 22, 2014 at 7:24 pm

        • Kaizer H

          Canadian Joe or let me say Zionist Joe, Stop your Israeli brain wash propaganda now! We Palestinians teach life! your efforts to try to make the victim the opressor will not work here! we have our eyes open and these colonialist arrogant comments will not work anymore! Israel is committing genocide in the biggest open air prison on earth! and no amount of bullshit propaganda is going to hide that anymore! join us to stop the genocide free Palestine and end the occupation! join us in our just fight for freedom and equality! and stay human🙂

          July 22, 2014 at 8:40 pm

          • Sumeyya Maljee

            Hamas has been elected by the palastinians and has full right to defend itself (even if its with just rockets!). Israeli devils have stolen the Palistinians land by taking them out of their homes and torturing them endlessly and you still try to defend those real terrorists! Wake up!!!

            July 22, 2014 at 10:58 pm

          • Canadian Joe

            Have you ever read the Hamas Covenant?? If so, do you truly believe that ” Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” REALLY??? This is how one group of people looks towards another and you wonder why conflict exists??? Or how about this overreaching goal of Hamas “”to terrorize the Jews of Israel, through mass murder, into abandoning their country. ” So you to then must believe that If generations of Palestinians have to be sacrificed to that goal then such sacrifices are theologically justified??? Really??? This isn’t propaganda mate, this is insane!

            July 23, 2014 at 7:54 pm

        • Hey Joe

          Canadian joe is Just trolling, pay no attentiaon, he knows nothing about Hamas, Israel or the Middle East, he is probably a 15 year old boy who can’t comprehend suffering and will probably never have to.

          July 22, 2014 at 10:54 pm

        • Humanitarian

          Do you really believe that Israel isn’t killing anyone? You know after launching an unbridled, indiscriminate attack from warships, fighter jets, tanks, artillery and helicopters on a CIVILIAN AREA – what do you expect to find there? When you attack civilian areas, you kill civilians. It’s not Advanced Mathematics. Also is that your excuse for backing up the genocide of innocent civilians? So what you’re saying is if there are supposedly “terrorists” in an area, the whole area should be bombed, people should be shot & everyone deserves to die? Why should Palestinians be robbed of their right to live let alone their rights to necessities? (Can you answer this? Is it because of Hamas again? read on…)

          You dare to blame Hamas for the deaths of innocent Palestinians when Israelis throw the bombs AND shoot the bullets killing them? Pathetic…if you truly wanted peace & had a righteous heart you would speak up against the genocide of Palestinians. Israel has the initiative of only killing innocents as seen repeatedly and the cowardice you speak of? Bombing ambulances and hospitals has to be the most cowardly thing a military could do.

          All I continue to see is there being No Excuse That Can Ever Justify The COLD BLOODED MURDER OF OVER 600 PEOPLE IN JUST 15 DAYS!

          If you are blind to the deaths of these innocent people, you have a sickness no medicine can cure.

          July 23, 2014 at 2:52 am

          • Canadian Joe

            To answer a previous comment, no I am not a 15 year old boy trolling. I am not here to anger but only expressing my opinion, and not just my opinion. I work in a Canadian College and the conflict in Gaza has been the primary topic of conversation and debate for the last week. Many instructors that work here come from different areas of the middle east and it’s interesting to hear the different thoughts on the conflict. But in truth, most are sympathetic with the plight of the ‘Palestinians’ and feel incredibly sorrow for what they are having to endure. BUT, as one of you said above, the Palestinians elected Hamas and support Hamas by allowing them to set up their rockets in their neighborhoods, in their schools, in and around their places of worship and in the hospitals. All of these areas have a great number of civilians around them. So when Hamas launches over 2000 rocket attacks, and you know these attacks are coming from different locations which all contain large numbers of civilians, how exactly do you propose that Israel target these launch sites? I truly do sympathize with the loss of civilian life, but unfortunately if the Palestinian people are willing to support Hamas by allowing them to launch attacks against Israel and store their killing weapons in their neighborhoods, then they must bear some responsibility for the deaths that are occurring. Finally, I am not a Zionist or a lover of Israel, I am someone who lives in a democratic society, is educated and through this education am able to establish my own thoughts and not have them forced upon me by way of threats of violence against me or my family, which Hamas seems to do to their own people.

            July 23, 2014 at 4:47 pm

        • Gaza will live

          what to expect from a Canadian – you live on stolen land too, no wonder you sympathize with murderers. one of a kind all of you

          July 23, 2014 at 9:28 pm

        • Naveed

          Shame on you

          July 25, 2014 at 10:58 am

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  8. Fosim

    So the day before you wrote this post – July 21st, this person’s “uncle” was looking for him for 2 days already? Interesting considering this “incident” happened on July 20th at 14:40 pm.

    This video is already widely suspected of being staged. All the further details posted recently make it even less likely to be true. Now that people have the name of Mohammed Alqattawi, it will be relatively easy to check who his cousins are, what are their names, and which of them are declared dead. It’s only a matter of time until there is proof.

    Since this story has already been reported on several big news outlets, once proof emerges that it’s fake – the whole ISM, Joe Carton, his Swedish idiot friends, you, Mohammed Alqattawi, and whoever else is involved in this crap will be destroyed by the Internet, and you will lose all future credibility. I hope you are ready for the shame you are going to bring upon your family and your Gazan friends.

    July 23, 2014 at 3:48 am

    • KIm

      Hey you need to read the story a little better there my friend and maybe research it better because the identity of the boy killed was already well known as was his cousin and the rest of the family. And how can you think that because they had been looking for him for two days that this couldn’t be him because of the date it happened? Many families there have been torn apart and are searching for each other and some of them die before they are found. Maybe you aren’t aware but Israel is kind of destroying all of Gaza right now so it’s easy to be separated.

      July 23, 2014 at 7:05 pm

  9. mordorson

    I heard a bang that sounded nothing like a sniper rifle being fired. Also, snipers don’t miss, most of them can hit a cinder block at 1000 yds. Additionally, there’s no gaping hole in his chest or leg where he was “shot”. What do you think they put in rifles like that? 9mm rounds? The shells they load them with are .338 Cal in size and have enough stopping power to crush a man’s rib cage, considering that a .500 Cal will take off a limb or pop a head like a balloon. There should have been some major, very visible, damage to that guy’s body when he was “hit”.

    July 23, 2014 at 5:24 am

    • your relating a movie scene which does not happen in real life..

      July 23, 2014 at 6:24 am

      • mordorson

        I’m assuming you’ve never fired a gun before, and don’t actually know anything about guns or sniper rifles, since you don’t seem to understand what I said. A REAL bullet causes REAL damage. The bullets they load into the rifles that Israeli snipers use can go through both sides of a cinder block and bury themselves in the ground behind them. On a human being that equates to a gaping wound with chunks of flesh and bone flying away from the area that was hit. That has absolutely nothing to do with movies. Also, there’s a 1-3 second delay between the hearing the rifle and seeing the bullet hit, and it’s never instantaneous unless the person shooting the gun is standing within 10 ft (3 meters) of their target. These are facts, they don’t have a single thing to do with movies, and honestly, most movies screw those parts up anyway. I’m not going to comment about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but this video is obviously fake.

        July 25, 2014 at 6:35 am

        • Naveed

          Have to say. You are one of those who will always side with israel terrorists whatever the case maybe .. Shame on you to say this while you see hundreds of children dying in this massacre.

          July 25, 2014 at 11:01 am

          • mordorson

            Israel warns civilians to leave the area before they hit targets. Hamas tells civilians to stay in the area so the body count will go up and they point the finger at Israel. That’s why they put rocket launchers in civilian homes and fire from hospitals, that’s why they’re teaching young children how to fire weapons. They don’t care about innocent people and they want the body count as high as possible. Maybe, just maybe, the reason the body count is higher on the palestinian side is because Israel does their best to protect their people from the rockets being launched, while Hamas does everything in their power to get palestinians killed by Israeli strikes. Also, you called Israel the terrorists. Do you happen to know how the Gaza strip came into existence? Israel gave over land for the promise of a cease fire, they cleared out every Jewish village and settlement in the area and had them go to the rest of the country, and Hamas said they would turn it into the Singapore of the middle east. Do you know what happened after that? Hamas invested billions into weapons and tunnel systems to attack Israel. They have not, and never will, do anything to help the people that live there. Their only concern is doing as much damage as they can to Israel, ultimately they’d like to destroy it and kill every Jew in the country, and they don’t care about innocents that get killed along the way. Tell me again, who are the terrorists? Who are the people that will continue to attack no matter what because of the hate they have, and for no other reason? Also, there are quite a few other things that point to this video being fake. If you’d like, I could point them all out to you, and then your sense of logic and reasoning is going to have to compete with your will to believe that this video is real and an Israeli sniper killed a civilian regardless of all evidence to the contrary. Judging from the fact that you’re already arguing against facts, I’m going to say that your sense of logic and reasoning is easily overpowered by zeal.

            July 25, 2014 at 8:33 pm

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  11. marie

    May Salem’s soul rest in peace…

    FYI: The NYTimes are reporting Salem was 23, not 20. Not sure which is accurate:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/world/middleeast/palestinian-family-finds-missing-son-in-youtube-video-of-his-shooting.html?_r=0

    July 24, 2014 at 12:03 pm

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  13. unicorn

    Very sorry about your loss. But I also have to say: “You have to kill Hamas in order to save the Palestinian people.”

    July 24, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    • Stopping hamas is like stopping the non spontaneous action that one is supposed to make when under attack…

      July 24, 2014 at 3:36 pm

  14. best of luck to hammas…!!!

    July 24, 2014 at 3:55 pm

  15. Andy Bye

    It is time that neighboring countries to Palestine get together and eradicate and annihilate the cancer Israel once and forever.

    July 25, 2014 at 12:26 pm

  16. I feel so sad for Salem’s death. I too, watched the video, and was horrified. I pray for his family and for his nation.

    July 25, 2014 at 1:50 pm

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