Qusra and Esh Kodesh Revisited

Ibrahim Wadi, Qusra

News of the killing of Ibrahim Wadi arrived Oct. 12, five days from the attacks that set off the Gaza war. My colleague Nida Ibrahim, who co-produced the Palestinian stories in Holy Land, emailed me with the news just hours after Wadi was killed, with a very frank and important statement that no, she is not OK.

We had spent half a day with Wadi back when we were filming. He struck me as an honest, intelligent and articulate man. Qusra’s mosque had been vandalized, and land and olive trees outside the village were facing encroachment and attack from nearby settlements.

What’s sickening, and bizarre, is that it’s very possible that Wadi’s killers came from the Israeli settlement that we also filmed for Holy Land. At the time, Esh Kodesh was a comparatively small “illegal outpost.” Mostly trailers and prefab homes. We followed Aaron Katsoff, an American expatriate, as he expanded his family’s home and planted grapes on lands outside the settlement. Settlers from Esh Kodesh often clashed with villagers from Qusra and from Jalud, another Palestinian village nearby.

Brutality now piles on top of brutality. Wahid — and his 24 year old son — were killed as they were on their way to attend a funeral for four other Qusra Palestinians who had been shot — either by settlers of the IDF — in clashes the day before (Haaretz, Oct 14).

According to the Palestinian Authority health Ministry settlers from Esh Kodesh were the Israelis primary involved in the new violence that broke out around Qusra since the Gaza war exploded (Times of Israel, Oct 11).

We spent time with Wadi in his office, then walked past the mosque wall that had been defaced with graffiti, and then drove out into the nearby farm land. These are happy memories, even though the situation we were exploring was grim. I remain grateful to Wadi for his generosity and kind welcome, and mourn his passing.

Interview with Ibrahim Wadi: here
Extended interview with Wadi, tour outside Qusra: here
NPR report from Qusra (10/18/23) here