How can Palestinians resist the brutality of the Israeli military government. How can they survive it? One Palestinian journalist, a friend for the past year told me, “We chose non-violence and they occupied our kitchens.”
There are about 9,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails. Last night Israeli soldiers abducted 14 more. Since Sharon was re-elected Israeli soldiers have killed 28 Palestinians. This is just in the past eight days. In the last two months Israeli soldiers have murdered 72 Palestinians. This means that the Israeli military kills four Palestinians a day.
“All night it was explosions and shooting. They just shot everywhere to ruin the house. They exploded the door but everyone was sleeping. It was just the children in the room, just the small children. No one even knew what was happening. They put everyone outside in the cold and finished shooting the entire house. The buildings, my aunt has two, they’re five floors, so ten families, they destroyed everything. They grabbed G— and threw him, hit him. He said he is a doctor and what do they want from him. They called him a liar and hit him again. This after what happened yesterday.” This was last night in her family’s home.
Yesterday she was visiting with a friend when Israeli soldiers broke in the door and started grabbing people. “I thought they were going to kill all of us. They humiliated us. They took his clothes off in front of everybody.”
“Haram,” she says lightly and gives a small smile, thinking of G—, the man she is engaged to. “He just came over last night to bring sweets, to celebrate because he passed his driving test, you know. It was the first time he said I miss you too much, I must come…” she stops talking and starts crying. Her tears roll only for a second. Most people don’t cry here. There’s too much to cry over, they can’t. If they started I don’t think they could stop.
This is a young Palestinian woman who lives in Beit Sahour, just outside of Bethlehem. She’s at work, shaken, but it’s normal enough that she goes to work anyway. She’s breaking curfew to be in her office, in the NGO she works in. The Israeli military government declared curfew on the people of the Bethlehem area again. She told me once proudly, “We are the curfew breakers.” To go to work, to visit a friend, to buy bread or oranges, is an act of resistance.
A man tells me, “It’s funny, there’s life in Bethlehem. My fiance is at work. Just the shops are closed, and the schools, and the buses.”
My phone rang all night. I’m visiting friends in Bethlehem. A friend calling to say that there are Israeli soldiers surrounding the building where he works the nightshift. He’s only worried, wondering if everyone is okay in the camps. In the camp the people sit up all night listening, trying to move to where it is safe. Friends are calling from the hospital in Gaza where I live, telling me more about the devastation there. The other night Israeli soldiers shot two nurses in Al-Awda Hospital and destroyed much of the its infrastructure just down the street. Attacking hospitals is in direct contradiction to international law. A woman, over 50, living in one of the middle camps in the Gaza Strip, didn’t hear the Israeli soldiers who yelled at her to leave her houses. They decided they wanted to blow up her home. They decided to terrify her and make her homeless. Instead they killed her. Friends are calling from Rafah, more houses are demolished, the Israelis won’t stop shooting. Two more kids are dead. My friends in the water municipality tell me that more pump stations are destroyed and more wells are contaminated. Just in Rafah its at 60 percent without water. This is ethnic cleansing and in all cases of ethnic cleansing, a great deal of effort goes into makeing the public think those being cleansed are bad, are evil, deserve it, are terrorists. I saw the little boy who Israeli soldiers shot in one of the camps. He is on permanent crutches, no more than 50 pounds. He and his friend threw stones at a heavily armoured Israeli tank. He is permanently maimed, his friend is dead. The kids in the camp don’t have school again today. Only 50 percent of the entire last year was not under curfew in this area. This generation is being killed before they have half a chance to live.
Kristen Ess is a political activist and freelance journalist from New York City, who has lived in the West Bank and Gaza since March 2002, where she does solidarity work and reports for Free Speech Radio news and Left Turn magazine.