I left Palestine on Thursday night. Security at Ben Gurion Airport was tight. As always, thanks to my Arab sounding name, I got a special treatment. ‘Excuses for any inconvenience’, says the security officer at the airport, ‘it’s for your own security’.
I find it a bit strange to feel like a criminal, while that same airport is off-limits for any Palestinian, even with foreign passports, who resides in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
This racism, I find criminal. But then again, these security officers have no clue of what is happening in various Palestinian towns and cities, and the apartheid system he is representing and protecting. As I opened my email to see how friends are doing. Ala, provides me with some definitions. Nablus is again invaded. He writes: ‘I am now surviving the fourth Israeli invasion in less than three months.’
‘I think the words occupation or invasion are is not clear. Perhaps because not a lot of people outside Palestine have not been in such situations before, but I am praying for them they will never have to experience such disgusting conditions.’
Ala continues to define occupation: ‘a well armed stranger invade the city and imposes a curfew. The word curfew is as hard as the invasion itself, because it means you are not allowed to leave your house, or even to sit on your balcony, you have to ignore your existence, you should hide yourself, and pretend you are not here, even our voices were forced to be down, not only this, but also the lights have to be down, because this might confuse the occupation troops.’
‘Curfew means that you have to stay at home for a long time, may be one day, one week, or even one month. During the first invasion in April we had to stay at home for 18 days, we were released only three
times, in each one we had only 3-4 hours to buy bread or to visit the destroyed buildings, or to look for dead bodies.’
‘Curfew and occupation means that you have to get used being treated as less than a human beeing, your psychological health goes down, it is due to the long time you stay at home, either alone or with others. We get bored from seeing each other for such a long time. A man prefers to be alone sometimes, or to have some kind of privacy, but in such conditions, there is no more privacy.’
‘The occupation tanks mobile freely in our streets, invade some buildings to arrest some people. They use sound bombs not only to frighten us and scare our kids, but also to encourage themselves because they are afraid. They know that they are occupiers, and one of the local citizens might revenge.’
‘The word occupation means that we dont have the possibility to go from our house to our shop which is less than 50 meters away. I have to go there to close the water supply, because neighbors there called and said it is flodding there, but i cannot go. I might be shot and killed by one of the Israeli snipers, and water will continue spoiling the goods in the shop.’
‘Occupation means that you have to be always ready for the hard times, I have to dress well, put my ID in my pajama, and try to sleep as much as possible, because if the Israeli soldiers will arrest anybody he will not have the chance to sleep well. He will have to stay in the street for hours untill they will take him to the military occupation base. We also could not take a shower, because we expect that they will come any time, so, if anybody wants to take a shower, it should be really fast. Israeli occupation soldiers do not wait for more than seconds, otherwise they bomb the doors and the gates of the house. They normally give only 5 minutes to families to evacuate the house before demolishing it. Nobody can even take his essential needs, or even his remembrances album.’
‘Of course curfew means : no schools, no university, no shops, no market, not only this, but also no medical treatment, no ambulances, and even no world cup.’
‘Our spirits and feelings diminishes during curfew. The psychological health suffers, you can imagine that man does not has the mood to comb his hair, or even to shave his beard. What do you expect from somebody who has been forced to dress his pajama for a few days or weeks, or who has nothing to do but sleep. Yes, sleep for ten to fifteen hours a day.’
‘Fortunately, there is electricity this time, so, I can continue working. I have so much work to do. However, the majority of the people do not have such access neither the mood. ‘People feel down in such conditions. They feel that everything is useless.’
‘In such conditions, we normally wait for anybody to call or even to say “hi”. An empty email or just a forwarded one is also highly appreciated, and anything else makes us feel we are still alive, or that we are still part of this world.’
‘The effects are that people turn more and more religious in hard times. I am not religious but I was calling God when I lose hope. When Israeli soldiers are less than three meters beside me, while they were shooting hundreds of bullets and missiles, when they kept shooting for hours, when I saw that death is more close to me than the three meters, then I remember that there is nobody except for God by my side. I called him and I felt that he could be of help, eventhough I am not very religious. In these times, I realise that religion is the only thing that can still bring some security and destiny.’