Israeli soldiers on Friday shot and killed Suraida Saleh in Ramallah as she was holding her 9-month old baby in her lap. She and her husband were driving to safety at her father’s house after hearing shooting near their home. Suraida Saleh was a Palestinian-American, born in George Washington Hospital, in Washington, D.C.
Reached on the phone today in Ramallah, her father Farhan Mohammed Saleh, told Democracy Now! that Israeli soldiers asked the husband to stop the car and started shooting. He said they shot Suraida in the head and chest, and she died immediately. After shooting the husband repeatedly, they let him go. He took the baby from his dead wife’s lap and stumbled up the road to the home of his father-in-law, where he collapsed.
With the Ramallah hospital morgue overflowing and Israeli soldiers preventing anyone from reaching the cemetery, Saleh said he was forced to bury his daughter in the hospital parking lot alongside dozens of other Palestinians.
Suraida’s father, Farhan Mohammed Saleh, wept as he said: "I took her out of the hospital refrigerator [morgue] with my own hands, and my wife and my older son with me, we took her outside and put her in the ground, just temporary."
On Tuesday, Democracy Now! spoke to the Office of Consular Affairs at the State Department. The office said the State Department was aware that Suraida Saleh was a U.S. citizen, but did not plan to release a statement or take any action. Farhan Mohammed Saleh said that the State Department has done nothing.
As he spoke, you could hear his grandson crying in the background. "[My grandson] is with me now. He is 9 months old, I don’t know what’s going to happen with him without his mother. You know, he’s crying all the time, that’s what makes me suffer."
Details of Sureida’s death were obtained by American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice (www.global-peace.org). They emailed, called and faxed major media for two days and no one picked up the story. Today is the first time the voice of Farhan Mohammed Saleh, the father of Suraida, will be broadcast nationwide. The following is a partial transcript of the interview that Amy Goodman, host of the radio and television show Democracy Now!, did with Farhan Mohammed Saleh in Ramullah.
Farhan Mohammed Saleh [FMS]: ...some of the neighbors, when they hear the shooting and saw her in the car, they call the ambulance... she stayed in the refrigerator [hospital morgue] from Friday morning up to yesterday evening [5 days]. ... I took her out of the hospital refrigerator with my own hands, and my wife and my older son with me, we took her outside and put her in the ground, just temporary, somewhere in the hospital, until they can take her to the cemetery.
Amy Goodman [AG]: You buried your daughter in the parking lot?
FMS: Yes, yes, she was with 2 more women, the men were buried separately. It is a temporary cemetery they make...
AG: How many other people are buried in the parking lot?
FMS: About 25 or 27 people. Three women were yesterday, and about 23 or 24 men.
AG: Why couldn’t you get to the cemetery?
FMS: Nobody can go to the cemetery, there was shooting going everywhere. They just give 1 or 2 hours to the people to see their dead. We passed from the side of the tanks and the soldiers, and we was scared... [my grandson] is with me now. He is 9 months old, I don’t know what’s going to happen with him without his mother. You know, he’s crying all the time, that’s what makes me suffer. [Crying of baby in the background]
AG: Has the US embassy come to see you?
FMS: Nobody, nobody up to now. My other daughter in Brooklyn, she called the Department of State in the U.S. and gave them all the information and they called the American Embassy in Jerusalem, and gave them my phone number. They called me Friday or Saturday, and I told them what’s happening, and they say they are going to come and nobody came. And they called me Sunday morning and say they’re going to come and nobody showed up, up to now. I called 2 or 3 times and I talked with some people working and nobody has shown up to now, nobody has seen me up to now. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the baby now. [He begins to weep.]
It’s a bad situation, a bad situation we have really, we just ask God to help her. It’s killing people everywhere, in the streets, in the houses. They broke down the houses, the buildings, they get inside the houses and the apartments and they kill people and break down everything. That’s barbarism. That’s the situation we have. I don’t know where are the human rights? The US and all the world, they’re calling for human rights–where are the human rights? Civilian people, they’re killing everywhere, in the streets and the houses and the apartments. Some buildings have 10 to 15 apartments, they get inside the apartments and houses and are killing everywhere,
AG: Farhan Mohammed Saleh, we’re going to try to get more comment from the US State Department.
FMS: They going to help me the kids, to make his life, I don’t know what they’re going to do, [the son-in-law] a very poor little guy, he wasn’t not working from the time when they were married.
AG: He’s in the hospital now?
FMS: When I go to the hospital, I took him with me. He saw her before the burial, and the doctor said go with me. He’s with me now.
AG: Farhan Mohammed Saleh, thank you for being with us, and we will check back with you.
FMS: I appreciate your call, thank you very much.
We go first to Bethlehem for the latest news.
- Kristen Schurr, activist with the International Solidarity Movement, at the Al Azzeh/Beit Jabrir refugee camp.
- Farhan Mohammed Saleh, father of Suraida Saleh, the 21-year-old woman gunned down by Israeli soldiers.
- Raeed Tayeh, American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice.
- International Solidarity Movement
- Jerusalem Independent Media Center
- American Muslims for Global Peace and Justice
- US State Department
- US State Department, Consular affairs: 202.647.6575.