‘They ordered all of us to get down and stay in one room downstairs. They went to search our home. Did they check everything? Did they check our underpants? What else do they need?’
Ala expected the soldiers to come again. This is not the first time they raided his home. The last time, they used his little brother as a human shield and used the appartment to interrogate and beat people.
‘I had to delete my files. I threw away many, many pictures and deleted everything related to our identity. Just imagine, our identity. I threw away anything that shows my interests in my home and land, my identity and culture. I had to prove that I am not a human being’.
While Ala’s family waited for the soldiers to finish their search, they were not allowed to talk to eachother. ‘I was thirsty but could not ask for water’, Ala said. ‘I thought if I kept silent, the soldiers might think that I am afraid, which would indicate that I have something that frightens me. Finally, I asked some water for my little niece. After she drunk, I took some water. What a great taste, although it was not cold, for me, it was more precious than gold at that moment’.
The Israeli soldiers took the identities to the tank and spent much time checking them. Suddenly, one Israeli soldier brought back the identities, except for Ala’s and his neighbour’s.
‘We got scared. They took them for one more hour to check’, Ala said. Meanwhile, a well armed Israeli soldier, carrying enough arms to kill not less than a dozen Palestinians, started the interrogation. He wanted to find out whether there was any connection between them and Hamas.
‘I cannot believe how stupid they are. Don’t they understand that the popularity of Hamas grows every single day? Where there is poverty and lack of human life, Hamas grows. If they would have eradicated poverty and oppression, Hamas would not be as strong as it is now’.
The soldiers used sound bombs when they were in Ala’s building. There was no apparent reason to do so. ‘They just wanted to show us that they are no less than Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rambo’.
At last, after more than one and a half hours, the soldiers started to discuss the idea of occupying the complete building. ‘Ofcourse, my own appartment is empty and has lots of room’, I thought. The soldiers gathered in front of the window and phoned their superiors.
‘I was always afraid that they would do so one day’, Ala said. ‘I have spent a lot of money to repair the damages done during Israel’s previous invasion, when they occupied our building. I even spent the money which I saved to do my PhD one day. I had fixed the windows, the doors, and painted the walls. I don’t have neither the mood nor the money to clean and restore the appartment again. I am tired’.
When Israeli soldiers occupy a Palestinian building they destroy the inside, they leave a mess of destruction. They usually steal whatever they want. ‘As we expected them to occupy our building again, my mom carries expensive property with her. We left four hundred shekels in different places. As we were confused, we forgot where we had put them, and could not find them again. This is nothing compared to what we have lost in April’.
‘I am happy that they left’, Ala continues. ‘Not only because we are at home, once again, but also we liberated our feelings from waiting. The more they delayed, the more we were afraid’.
‘I am less afraid now, but I am worried that they will change their minds and pay us another visit. If they do, I will get really mad’.
The picture shows Israeli soldiers go door to door occupying homes in the Westbank town of Nablus Friday, Aug. 2, 2002 (AP Photo/Pavel Wolberg).