Fighter for Peace in Palestine: Bassam Aramin

Peace Award Winner 2007: "Unknown Peaceworker"

Bassam Aramin, former fighter for the independence of Palestine, underwent an incredible change during his seven years in Israeli prison in Hebron and discovered the human beings behind his former image of the enemy.

Bassam Arramin was born 1969 in the small village of Sair near Hebron in the West Bank. Despite being handicapped, he decided at an early age to fight for the independence of his nation. He joined the Fatah movement and belonged to a small troop that planned attacks on various Israeli military targets. In 1985, at the age of 16, he was arrested by the Israeli forces and convicted of being a member of an illegal movement and possessing weapons.

Before his release, he committed himself to non-violence and the promotion of peace and dialogue in the Middle East. He married and started his own family. He taught his six children how important it is to strive for peace and justice. Bassam became one of the most prominent partners of Israeli peace organisations and movements in the West Bank. Alongside his work in the Palestinian archive in Ramallah, he founded the El-Outs organisation, which promotes democracy and peace and educates young Palestinians in the occupied territories in this respect.

In 2005 he founded the "Combatants for Peace" initiative together with other peace activists. The group comprised former members of the Israeli military forces and former Palestinian militant fighters who were imprisoned in Israeli jails. The initiative was intended to encourage Israelis and Palestinians to end violence and injustice. Bassam was also one of the most important partners of the Peres Centre in the West Bank. Together with its staff, he has been involved in the design and coordination of various projects aimed at bringing together young Israelis and Palestinians.

The harsh reality of the Israeli occupation put Bassam and his family to the test again this year: on 16th February, a border patrol soldier shot dead Bassam's 10-year-old daughter Abir. She had just come out of school in her home village of Anata with her sister and some friends when a jeep from the border patrol drove by and opened fire on the group of girls. Abir was hit in the head by a rubber bullet and seriously injured. Two days later she died in hospital of her injuries. But even this tragedy has not silenced Bassam's appeals for peace.



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