On 10 April, Ghada set out to visit her uncle, wearing a hijab and long gown.

On the way back, the walk took her past the makeshift checkpoint.

As she approached, a soldier fired warning shots and shouted.

Ghada has "eye problems", her family said, adding that she did not speak Hebrew as she had spent years abroad.

In footage caught by a Palestinian TV crew that happened to be filming nearby, she appeared to panic.

But she kept walking. The soldier opened fire at her legs, and she fell to the floor.

It took several minutes for an ambulance to arrive. By the time she reached a hospital in the nearby town of Beit Jala, she had lost catastrophic amounts of blood.

She died in the hospital.

'She cannot be replaced'

Ghada was not wearing an explosive vest or carrying any kind of weapon.

Her family have been in shock and anger ever since she was killed.

"My sister went there and asked a soldier in Hebrew: 'Did she do anything wrong?'," Ghada's mother Houria Sabatien, 69, told AFP.

"He answered: 'No'. 'So why did you shoot at her?' she asked. The soldier said: 'Sorry'."

Around her sat her grandchildren, four of Ghada's orphans: Omar, Jamila, Mohammed and Moustafa, their eyes glued to the floor.

"They've become orphans. And me, I'm old, I'm afraid for them when they go out, I'm afraid for them because of the army," Houria said.

"I would like to feed them and show them life. But I'm afraid for their future."

Moustafa, 15, is struggling to comprehend the tragedy.

"When I lost my mother, it was as if life no longer had any meaning. She was the one who woke us up in the morning, she was the one who welcomed us back from school, she was the one who took care of us," he said.

"She was everything, she cannot be replaced."

He reminisced about Ghada's delicious maqloubeh, a Palestinian dish of rice and meat, and how she would help with his mathematics homework.

"She made me understand straight away," he said.

‘Mistake’

Born into a family of scientists, Ghada Sabatien graduated with a degree in mathematics at Bethlehem University and spent 15 years in Jordan, where she was a teacher.

After her husband died four years ago, Ghada returned to Husan with the children.

She prepared meals, helped with homework, read the Koran, visited extended family members, and occasionally gave private lessons.

"She was an independent, peaceful, educated woman who was not interested in politics at all," says Rafat, her brother.

He said he had received an apology from the Israeli army for their "mistake".

AFP approached the army for comment on Ghada's killing.

It said she had run "suspiciously" towards the checkpoint and that soldiers had fired at her legs.

"The suspect received initial medical treatment by IDF soldiers at the scene," it said.

"The circumstances of the case are being reviewed."

The tragedy sparked anger, both among Palestinians and overseas.

Read more from Middle East
Post Comment