Moussa is eight years old and really likes marbles. But for the past month, this Palestinian boy, living in the occupied West Bank, has a new game: “Pretend daddy isn’t dead.”
He calls his dad, imagines what he did with his day, and acts like he is suddenly going to run into him.
But his father, Bilal Saleh, was killed on October 28.
The 40-year-old was shot in the chest while picking olives with his family near his home in the village of al-Issawiya.
Saleh is one of more than 250 Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank, according to a Palestinian government tally, since Hamas’s attack on October 7 sparked a new war with Israel.
“He was a simple man, attached to his land,” says his widow, Ikhlas, showing images on her phone of Saleh in the fields, reciting the Quran with Moussa and at a wedding.
She struggles to even look at them, let alone tell the story of what happened.
The children pressed around her to fill in the details.
Videos from the scene show four men wearing the knitted yarmulkes that are popular among Israeli settlers, shouting towards the family as they are harvesting.
One is armed with an automatic rifle.
The family flees, but Saleh has forgotten his phone and runs back to fetch it.
A few minutes later, a gunshot rings out.
The family rushes back to find Saleh bleeding from the chest.
He was taken to a hospital about 10km (6 miles) away but declared dead soon after.
The family says Ikhlas’s brother and father saw on social media that a man had been arrested for the shooting but released a few hours later.
The police and COGAT, an Israeli defence ministry body overseeing civilian activities in the Palestinian territories, did not respond to multiple requests for comment.