The murder of Rami Ayyad
GAZA CITY—The last time I saw Rami we were at the beach near Gaza City. A group of us were playing in the water and I
was trying to force Rami under. Rami was a big man, weighing at least twice what I do, and—needless to say—I did not
manage to get him to budge. When he in turn came after me, all I could do to protect myself from suffocating under him
was flee. Eventually, I was able to sneak up on Rami under water and pull his legs out from under him and escape again.
There are around 3000 Christians living in Gaza today. Rami was the office director of the Teacher's bookstore, a
Christian bookstore in downtown Gaza City. The store sells Christian books and offers computer and language lessons,
which are attended by Palestinians from across the Gaza Strip. When I would visit the place on occasion Rami was always
there on his swivel chair cracking jokes. Few people entered that did not already know him. Gaza can be a place of
sadness, but Rami always reminded me much more of the Egyptian mentality—laughing and joking no matter how depressing
On one Saturday afternoon, Rami closed his shop as he always did at 4:30pm. He had told his brother that three days
earlier he had sensed he was being followed home after work, but had not made much of it. Two hours after closing up he
called his wife and told her with much uncertainty that he hoped to be home in two hours and not to worry. He was not
able to say where he was or why he was there. Rami never came home.
Friends and family searched for him late into the night. At 5:30am on Sunday morning his body was found beaten, a bullet
through his head, another through his chest. His wallet, ID and watch were gone.
No one has made any statements, no group has taken responsibility. This is the first time in Gaza's recent history that
a Christian was kidnapped and killed. Sadly, such revenge killings do occur and are usually of political nature, but
never with religious cause. In Gaza, Muslims and Christians live and die side by side, sharing every element of the
Israeli occupation and containment that has been a reality there since most people alive today remember. Rami had no
political or factional involvement, nor was his family implicated in any family feuds. Rami's boss was quoted in the
Independent saying "We don't know who was behind the killing or why. Was it for money, or was it because he was selling
The heart of the matter is that Gaza is a place overrun with violence. Readers of my article and other articles on the
PalestineChronicle.com have followed the complexities of Gaza's social and political makeup, so I will not repeat again
what I have so often said before. Violence here has deep roots in injustice and occupation, but beyond this, every
individual, every political grouping, every community makes the choice of projecting their experience outward and paying
violence with violence. Gaza is deeply entrenched in violence. In Gaza, victims of bloodshed often become shedders of
blood. Rami experienced the harshness of occupation, the limitation of curfews, Israeli military incursions, civilian
targeted sonic booms, restrictions on travel beyond the 365km2 confines of the Gaza Strip and the strife of
Rami chose to respond to violence with laughter, love and peace. The strength to live such a life is what I hope for
Rami's killers, it is what I hope for every Palestinian living and born into the living hell of Gaza today.
* Philip Rizq is a Gaza-based Egyptian German writer who writes for the Palestine Chronicle. This article is distributed
by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) and can be accessed at www.commongroundnews.org.
Source: Palestine Chronicle, 15 October 2007, www.palestinechronicle.com
Copyright permission has been obtained for publication.