A photo of a slightly smiling Ahmed Khatib has joined the martyr posters on the walls of the refugee camp here. But the 12-year-old boy is shown cradling a guitar instead of the assault rifles brandished in the grim tributes around him. A large red question mark appears at the bottom.
"Why the Palestinian children are killed?" it asks in stilted English.
Ismail Khatib and his wife, Abla, have offered a response that has drawn praise from Israeli leaders and challenged Palestinians in this cramped refugee camp, a focal point of Israeli-Palestinian violence for years.
Ahmed, the couple's son, was shot twice last week by Israeli soldiers in what the military said was a mistake made during the heat of street fighting near their house. The boy had been holding a toy gun. He died two days later in an Israeli hospital, and the Khatibs made the surprising choice of allowing his organs to be harvested for transplant to Israelis.
Six people, including five Israeli Jews, have received the boy's heart, lungs, liver and kidneys since then. The recipients range from a 58-year-old woman to a 7-month-old girl, who died two days ago after failing to recover from surgery that gave her half of Ahmed's liver. The rest are recovering.
"My son has died, God rest his soul," Abla, 34, said Wednesday in the family's small living room, filled throughout the morning with women paying quiet condolences. "Maybe he can give life to others."
The donation, which the mechanic and his wife have described as a peace overture that others should emulate, has at least momentarily transformed a persistent conflict between two peoples into a shared drama of ordinary people looking beyond a war that Israeli human rights groups say has killed 672 Palestinian and 118 Israeli minors in the last five years.
Israel's finance minister, Ehud Olmert, called quickly to apologize for Ahmed's death and to thank the family for its decision. Members of the Israeli parliament, particularly the Arab bloc, have praised the gesture. Ismail Khatib was summoned Wednesday to meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who he said told him, "What you have done serves our cause." Even the guerrillas here say the family's sacrifice has proved more potent than their armed operations.
"This kind of action is a form of resistance," said Zakaria Zbeida, leader of the ruling Fatah movement's armed wing in the Jenin refugee camp. "Five members of the Israeli community are now carrying part of a Palestinian. I don't think someone with a Palestinian organ will now kill a Palestinian. Not to mention, these families now have a family in Jenin."
The Israelis who received Ahmed's organs are still recovering in intensive-care units in Israeli hospitals, including an 8-year-old boy whose ultra-Orthodox parents say they intend to visit the Khatibs here as soon as possible. Fewer than half of families in Israel agree to organ donations, many because of religious convictions. More than 500 people are waiting for kidneys.
But Riyad Ghadban is watching his 12-year-old daughter, Samah, gradually recover with Ahmed's heart beating inside her frail chest.
"It's like she has changed her whole body," Ghadban, 55, said from his daughter's bedside at the Schneider Children's Medical Center in the Israeli city of Petah Tiqwa. "She is feeling very nice, smiling and beautiful."
A bus driver for nearly three decades, Ghadban is an Arab Druze from the northern Israeli village of Pekiin. For the past four years, his daughter's genetic heart defect prevented her from attending school or playing outside. Tutors and friends visited her in her room. Ghadban received the call Saturday evening that a heart was waiting.
"About my daughter I feel wonderful, but about this boy I feel very sad," said Ghadban, who is trying to secure permission from Israeli authorities for the Khatibs to leave the West Bank and visit his home. "I believe in one God in this world, and that we are all family."
Ahmed, a seventh-grader at the U.N. school in the Jenin camp, rose before his five siblings on Nov. 3. It was the first day of Eid al-Fitr, the three-day feast celebrating the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. He dressed and left his house on a steeply sloping alley to pray at a nearby mosque and make the customary feast-day visit to the Martyrs' Cemetery. He would be buried there three days later.
According to his family and friends, Ahmed returned home and helped his mother prepare tea for the family. Then he changed into new clothes he received for the feast, crowing that "he looked like a groom." His cousin Tamer arrived, and the two boys disappeared out the door.
To the youths of Ahmed's neighborhood, the gunmen staring from the posters or swaggering around the streets were heroes. Ahmed collected the martyrs' posters, bringing them home only to have his mother tear them up. He threw rocks at army Jeeps. A few days before he died, he left a drawing of a heart on Zbeida's doorstep, said the guerrilla leader, who helped shoulder his coffin to the grave.
"Yes, he liked to do these things," Abla said. "Whatever the older guys did, he liked to do as well."
Not long after he left to play that day, several dozen boys arrived at the Khatib home, bustling with people gathering for the feast. They told Abla that Ahmed had been hurt by Israeli soldiers a few blocks away. The family rushed to the hospital to find Ahmed had been shot once in the head and once in the pelvis.
His mother said she knew there was no hope for him. "I saw his clothes full of blood," she said.
The boy was taken to an Israeli hospital in Haifa. But doctors there were unable to detect any brain function, and it was only a matter of time before he succumbed. In the meantime, Ismail asked his wife if she would "mind someone touching her son" to allow his organs to be harvested. Moved by the children suffering in the same hospital ward, Abla agreed to the donation after Ismail called the mufti of Jenin and the Muslim cleric gave his blessing.
"I don't have much to offer," Abla said. "This is what I had."
Ismail's motives were personal. As a boy, he watched his brother, Shawqat, die after a 15-year battle with kidney disease. That was 22 years ago.
"The moment the doctor told me my son was dead, I saw my brother in the flesh of my son," said Ismail, 39, a tall, wan man with charcoal circles under his eyes.
Abla, her soft, round face framed by a pale-blue head scarf, also wants the choice she made about her son to stand as a political statement.
"This is a message from us to them: that we are the ones who want peace and they break their promises," she said. Later, she said, "In our nature, we do not like the Jewish people because they are the occupiers."
On the streets of the Jenin refugee camp, Ahmed's friends appear uncertain about the family's decision.
"I say it's forbidden to donate your organs to Jews," said Imad Bitawi, 13. "Tomorrow they will kill us. If it were Arabs, it would be easier."
Ahmad Tawfiq, 11, was standing three feet away when the bullets struck Ahmed that day. He said Ahmed held a toy gun shaped like an Uzi and that the boys stood among five Palestinian fighters exchanging gunfire with Israeli soldiers in Jeeps.
"The organs were given to the enemy that killed him," Tawfiq said. But he added that Jewish children deserved Ahmed's organs.
"The children, like us, have nothing to do with this," Tawfiq said.