Aramin did not join Combatants for Peace after Abir, his 10 year-old daughter, was killed from IDF fire at the entrance to her school.
He was already a founding partner in Combatants for Peace in 2005, two years prior, after imprisonment in Israeli prison, where he served a 7-year sentence for planning an attack on IDF soldiers.
Since then, and even after the horrible tragedy that befell his family, he did not hold a weapon. His childhood in Hebron was intertwined with scenes of pain: soldiers invading houses, children-friends killed by his side. From that, grew a strong urge for revenge.
In the young organization they established they called themselves “freedom fighters”; the rest of the world called them terrorists. From stone-throwing they moved to grenade-throwing on Israeli jeeps. At the age of 18 he was sentenced to seven years in prison.
During the height of an incident where he was humiliated and beaten by his guards, he recalled a movie about the holocaust that he once watched. He remembered that he was first happy about the murder of Jews, but he also remembered that he was later brought to tears by the pain he felt for them.
He made sure to hide his tears from his friends, who would probably not understand his pain for the occupier oppressing him. Entangled in his emotions, he decided to try and understand who the Jews are and what motivates them. His main source of information was his guard.
From the complicated conversations between them grew a friendship, and it deepened the mutual understanding. An insight surfaced quickly: the only way for peace is nonviolence.
His release came near the time of the Oslo Accords. However, when disappointment outplaced hope, a group of Israeli and Palestinian activists who believed in nonviolence started secretly meeting. That’s how Combatants for Peace was born.
But Bassam’s commitment faced a great test - the killing of his daughter, which no one took responsibility for or apologized. However, Bassam did not choose revenge and going back to violence.
“After all”, he says, “one soldier killed my daughter, but one hundred ex-soldiers built a garden in her school and named it after her.”