Jamal Khalil Saal lives in Dheisheh, a camp near Bethlehem. This story is also a story told in Until then, a documentary by Dahna Abourahme.
When I was fifteen, tells Jamal, I was imprisoned once, then a second time, so I wasn’t able to finish school. I was forced to work and I worked in a restaurant and got started in this business. I was sixteen when I started.
I like this work, I like it a lot. When I was a kid, I used to joke around that I was going to be a cook… but originally I wanted to study.
About fifteen years ago, tells Emad Daoud (the one from the previous story, who works with Jamal), there were confrontations in Al Khader, nearby. There were shellings and a bomb went astray and passed right above the restaurant, missing it by one meter. A moment later, we looked around and everybody had run out, Jamal being the first. He was all the way downstairs, and nowhere to be found.
I got scared, Jamal explains, and I wasn’t thinking about where I was going. I saw people running around and I just followed them. The restaurant was full, the food on the tables. People hadn’t paid. This guy (Emad Daoud) left last and collected all the lighters on the tables. He left with a handful of lighters.
From the moment I could hear, tells Jamal later on, I heard the sound of shooting. From the moment I could see, I saw the army. The first time I wanted to go out, there was a curfew. When I wanted to play, over there was forbidden. Whenever I saw a gathering, it was a funeral. The occupation is in every pore of my being, my fingernails, my head, my brain, my legs, everything in me is formed by the occupation.