Nablus: ‘Can you go to Balata?’

‘Can you go to Balata refugee camp?’, I asked a taxi driver, who still tries to work in Nablus, a city under curfew, avoiding Israeli tanks when he spots them. All taxi drivers were laughing at me, when I asked about Balata refugee camp. How could I know that Israeli bulldozers destroyed the street that connects the eastern part of the city with the western part.

It is impossible to reach Balata by car. All refugees, residing in the three camps in that area, as well as the village surrounding Nablus, as well as Palestinians from other towns and villages won’t be able to enter my city.

This means that no one can travel from the western part of Nablus to Ramallah or to the refugee camps or to the villages.

I had to go. Doreen and Sabine, SCI representatives, needed to go to Balata. We could not wait until the curfew would be lifted again. This would mean, waiting another ten extra days. The occupier only allows residents out of their homes for four hours, every ten days. This is not sufficient.

We had to pass the western part of Nablus. I was shocked when I saw the destructed streets. I was even more disturbed to see the Governerate buildings, totally destroyed. An old woman was in a rush. She said: ‘Yalla, move, don’t waste your time. You have to rush to get to the other side’.

Nablus Governerate (AEF, 2002)

We started running. I was laughing and afraid at the same time. The Israeli tanks were no more than 500 meters away. Fortunately, we managed to get to the eastern part of Nablus.

‘What a nightmare’, I thought. In this divided city, the first thing I saw was my secondary school. I was thinking, ‘luckely, I have finished my highschool before the siege, otherwise I would have lost a lot’. The school looked sad and empty. I remembered how many events we organised and with how many students we were. Now, nobody is there. Everyone is locked up in their home.

Nablus prison (AEF, 2002)

On my way back to home, crossing one part of Nablus to the other, when we passed the destroyed buildings of the Governerate, the Israeli occupiers started to shoot hundreds of bullets. We had to run and hide behind damaged cars. We were running from one place to the other. We were confused and got lost. We found ourselves in a partly demolished entrance of the old prison, searching for the exit.

It reminded me of Scooby Doo and other American movies. ‘When will we finish this road of death?’ I thought.