Nablus: History under rubble

It has been a week now since the Israeli army left the old city of Nablus. Families are still recovering and haven’t yet coped with the drastic changes that affected their way of living since April’s invasion and occupation. The tears they shed on the loss of their beloved ones haven’t yet dried and the smell of their dead bodies under the rubble of their properties still stick their noses.

Israeli armored personnel carriers near Nablus (Photo: Sam Messier, 2002)

The stone of every home in the old city which has witnessed decades of Israeli brutality and Palestinian suffering is covered completely with hundreds of pictures of martyrs who resisted Israeli missiles, tanks, snipers and bullets, defending the honor and dignity of their city and people. The bitterness they feel seeing their beloved city destroyed was hard for them to overcome. However, they now realized that all what they have been through was only the beginning of their suffering and it will be a long way filled with sacrifices to reach its end.

Yesterday I went to the old city accompanying a reporter. The first place we went to was the Yasmina quarter. The first martyr in this latest invasion was from this neighbourhood. He was shot in his legs and died waiting for medical aid. Israeli occupation soldiers prevented medical personnel from reaching him.

The Johari family was the first to visit. The father is a physiotherapist who used to work at a Turkish bath, al-Hamam as-Somara, which was severely damaged in April’s invasion. His house was the first the Israeli soldiers entered in Yasmina. They forced themselves through an underground tunnel from the Somara neighbourhood. They detonated explosive and blew up the home next door and entered. His furniture, kitchen, and bathroom are completely destroyed and we could still smell rotten food under the kitchen rubble. Nothing is left except a bed room at the roof in which eight of the family members are sleeping in. The soldiers were too afraid to step into Yasmina’s streets. They made a hole in the kitchen wall that led them to the neighbour’s bedroom and destroyed it. They entered five adjacent homes the same way. They destroyed all their belongings.

The Khammash family was the second to visit. The father is an artist but works in a restaurant for living. Standing on the torn cloths and paintings and broken furniture and electrical machines under the rubbles of their kitchen wall holding a 2 yrs child, his wife thanked God they’re still alive. She told me she never new that behind their kitchen wall is their neighbors bathroom, but the soldiers knew.

Her two years old child told me that Israeli tanks shot him in his fingers but I couldn’t see a sign of injury. When I asked his father, he told me that it seemed that the kid dreamt it. He had been repeating this the whole day and said that he was pessimistic. He wanted the day to pass peacefully. Climing through the large hole in the wall of this home, we faced a mother and her son sitting on top of rubble and debris, leftovers of their home. Only walls that separated them from their neighbours, except a ceiling, remained. Other family members took refuge at their relatives, friends and neighbours. Her son told us that all men were tied and taken to Huwwara camp leaving their families behind them wondering what might happen to them and whether they’re be able to see them again.

The Israeli occupation soldiers were making holes in the walls using explosives and marking them with entrances and exits to guide them through. A child was muted from the shock she received seeing the soldiers destroying her home and the arrest of her brother. She still couldn’t say a word.

Families in Yasmina and other neighbourhoods of the old city have faced Israeli brutality and aggression. Despite all what they went through, people are determined to defend their city, they believe that the passport to their future is through resistance and not surrender.

Today is another day in the old city. Israeli occupation soldiers invaded the area at 2 am. They imposed a strict curfew, demolished more homes, arrested more people, and killed others. They announced that they will stay in the old city as long as it takes to arrest and silence any resistance to Israel’s occupation. They distributed a statement warning people that they will be vulnerable to attacks if they host any member of the resistance or facilitate their movements.

History has been destroyed day after day. They don’t have any respect or empathy with children and basic human lives. As I write my diary, I cannot stop thinking of that 2 years old child who dreamt that soldiers shot him in his finger.

Related Links:

  • Ghadeer’s diaries, Live from Palestine