Nablus: Home snaching, back to square one

After what seemed like four days of near peace, most people being able to get from one place to the other with less chances of getting spotted, a large number army tanks, armored vehicles and army jeeps re-entered Nablus. The buildings, residential ones, are snatched again.

The curfew has been enforced for 96 days since June 20. No breaks, no chance for students to go to schools, people to get to work and breadwinners to provide for their families.

On Saturday, schools were opened. The decision was taken mostly by students with the help of their parents and the series of talk shows in we adopted for that matter in Radio Tariq Al Mahabbeh.

On Saturday evening, it was decided that that day was a success. 76 percent of students attended schools, more than 40 percent of those, made a full day there — students in some schools took one class, some took two and some stayed for the whole day. It all depended on where the school is and whether teachers from out of Nablus could make it to their schools inside it.

Since Nablus was and still is under curfew, no one knew for certain where the army is, how many vehicles, where they are staying& etc. These details have taught us to know how many soldiers are in the city. On Sunday, the same unit of one tank, two armored vehicles, and some jeeps were seen roaming Nablus repeatedly. It was assumed that less than thirty Israeli soldiers controlled the lives of nearly 200,000 people in Nablus. Residents started timing the movements of that army unit in order to navigate their way to their destinations, mainly schools.

I have been driving my kids to school ever since Saturday. That day was the worst; the army were everywhere shooting, running after little kids, terrifying them and sometimes beating them up. The trip to school was a nightmare for students as well as their parents and guardians. Since Sunday, the trip was much smoother; people were calling friends, asking other commuters and keeping their eyes open, but they got there eventually. No incidents were reported.

As if jinxed, the army was suddenly in the heart of Nablus early this evening, Tuesday, September 24th. Their first target was a residential building near Al Najah University, the same building that was snatched in April for most of the incursion time. No one knows why there are back with such a new force, people are expecting the worst.

Not a week passed since I was taking to one of my friends who lives in that building. Eyad was explaining how the army had stolen big boxes of cigarettes, perfumes, a video camera and some little expensive bits and peaces he and Manal, his wife, collected during their trips abroad when they snatched his apartment last April.

I thought Eyad was joking when he called to tell me that three Mirkava tank and two heavily armed vehicles in addition to the special trucks the Israeli army uses for making transporting arrested Palestinians were outside their building. I learnt later that they have gathered all the neighbors in three small apartments while the Israeli soldiers enjoyed the rest of the big building.

How ironic and unbelievable things Israel gets away with. First, they get the United States backing in the United Nations with the VETO threat as a slap on the faces of most world leaders, then they influence a lenient non-binding resolution to which they were absent.

The president of the United States said two days ago that he refused to approve a resolution that will denounce one side over the other when it came to the Israeli offensive in Palestinian areas. He did, however, make certain that the United Nations know that he wanted the backing of a strong resolution by all members of the Security Council against Iraq.

With the strict curfew back, all schools in Nablus are threatened to close again, students are exposed to missing more school days or weeks until they get another chance to be educated again. Never mind, this is the new world order, this is American democracy and freedom at works.

It is true that the Israeli army bulldozers have left the presidential compound in Ramallah. It seemed that they left only to come back to Nablus. Will we face another military operation? The funny thing is: we are already under curfew, Is this a curfew inside another curfew?

Ninety six days have passed. The whole population of Nablus were and are still confined to their homes, Students have already missed eighteen days at school out of thirty one. The world is watching, yet has done little.

Amer Abdelhadi is general manager of Radio Tariq Al Mahabbeh, TMFM 97.7, Nablus