Gaber chehine was a young Palestinian boy aged 14. He was full of life.
Though you could see on his frail body all the signs of deprivation,
he always smiled. In a way, you could say he was mischievious. But you
had to say it with a lot of affection in the tone of your voice.
He would take away your hat, but before you could realsie what is going
on, the hat would be again on your head, while Gaber would present you a
candy. Every one of his mischiefs started so as to enrage you, but lasted
so little, and always ended so nicely, so elegantly, I would say, that
like hugging Gaber instead of being angry at him.
Gaber was always prepared to help. He would go to the grocery for an old
women, he would babysit a young woman's child to free her for some
important matter she has to attend. His ear would pick the cry of a
child among all distant noises. And that was his field of expertise.
Calming a child, replacing their tears with smiles. He would be for them a
clown, a story teller. He would take a child on a ride over his shoulders
or on his back.
He would not mind stealing a cookie from a near-by shop to calm down a baby.
He would then go back to the shop and offer his services, free of charge,
for some minutes which in his estimnate cover the price of the cookie.
The tanks and soldier were standing before the main building in the
square. Three children were hiding behind a telphone pole adjacent to a
tree. They had been throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers. They had not
yet been detected. They were in a precarious situation. Gaber, behind an
open door, was conversing with them by sign language. He told them to
observe the square till he, Gaber would distract the soldiers. The three
would then be able to run for their life.
The sign language had been invented on the spot. But Gaber knew how to
make the meanings of his gestures unambiguous. The three children
had understood him well.
Gaber put his hands in his pockets and avanced towards the Israeli
soldiers and their tanks. He clearly did not intend to throw stones.
He was walking, not running. He seemed sure of himself.
"Stop just here" shouted a soldier. Gaber obeyed but did not seem
afraid. "What do you have in your pockets" said one soldier pointing
his gun at him. Gaber took out his hands from the poclets while turning
the pockets inside-out. The pockets were empty.
"Why to you come close to us", asked another soldier.
"I was told" said Gaber "that you Israelis know everything" The soldiers
smiled. One of them said in a questioning way :"So?"
"So, said "Gaber, can you tell me where is my mom? I need to speak to
her, and I cannot find her. Maybe you can help me." Some soldiers
started to laugh. Gaber moved towards a soldier at the other end
of the group. All soldiers' eyes were fixed on him. Gaber did it
deliberately so that the soldiers would look away from the telephone
pole and the tree.
Gaber told him: "You seem smarter than the rest, you surely know were my
mom is. The soldiers burst laughing. And just as one soldier commented
to the other on the stupidity of the Palestinian children, the soldiers
heard the steps of the running three children. The soldiers turned
their guns at the three, but it was too late. The three had already
entered a narrow street.
Gaber than shoutet to the soldiers: "I can now find my mum without your
help" In their rage, the soldiers pointed their guns at Gaber and
killed him. He was singing a defiant tune when he was hit by the balls.
Who is Gabriel Chehine? He is the Palestinian Gavroche. Gavroche is
the child described by Victor Hugo in "The miserablea" He is
mischievious but adorable He has a golden heart, is totally dedicated
to his people's revolution. He represents the Parisian spirit against
Gavroche is celebrated all around the world. The Palestine people has
produced thousands of Gavroches. Gaber Chehine was such a Gavroche.
It is a coincidence, but the two names Gavroche anf Gaber Chehine are
Let us make from Gaber Chehine the Palestinian young hero who is not
surpassed by the French Gavroche. The French have their Gavroche, and
the Palestinians have their "Gaberche". I would accept any other name,
more Palestinian sounding. But when we will speak of a Gaberche (or a
better name) we will not mean a youth good-for-nothing, aimlessly
roaming the streets. We will mean an hero. as great as Gavroche, a
stone-thrower for his country, an example to praise. Palestinians
have their Gavroches, they deserve to be immortalised by a Palestinian
name. Any suggestion?