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Despite loss of his child, Palestinian ex-fighter remains dedicated to peace

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On April 6, 2006, The Christian Science Monitor reported on the inauguration of Combatants for Peace, a groundbreaking group of Israeli and Palestinian ex-fighters campaigning for peace in the tense and turbulent region. Tragically, in mid-January, their mission was brought sharply into focus when the 11-year-old daughter of Palestinian cofounder Bassam Aramin was killed by a rubber bullet outside her school in Anata, near Jerusalem. (Rubber bullets, intended as a nonlethal way to disperse crowds, can be fatal if fired at close range.)

Mr. Aramin, a Palestinian ex-fighter who was imprisoned by Israel at age 16 and spent seven years behind bars, has been a key figure in Combatants for Peace's recent high-profile public campaigns, participating in public lectures in Israel alongside Israeli cofounders Zohar Shapira and his brother, Yonatan. A father of six children who range in age from 4 to 13, Aramin says he has sought peace ever since his release from prison in 1992 in order "to defend all our children, both Palestinian and Israeli."

His daughter Abir was fatally wounded Jan. 18, hit in the head by a rubber bullet that Aramin and Combatants for Peace allege was fired by Israeli border police. Abir was evacuated to a hospital in Israel where she died three days later, having never regained consciousness.

"According to our own investigation," says Mr. Shapira, "the children had just finished primary school for the day. Abir was going to buy chocolate from a kiosk around five meters from the school gate, when Israeli border police opened fire on the children with rubber bullets and stun grenades." According to one press report, the police were responding to children throwing stones at their armored jeep.

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