Occupation diary (8-22 April 2002)

Here I am in the place where Jesus was born, now a most terrifying place. Monday last week we woke up at 1:00 A.M. I could hear bombing and shelling everywhere. At 4:00 I ran to my mother’s room and hid under her bed because the bombing was very close. My father looked from the window and counted twenty tanks all around our house. They entered the old town of Bethlehem near the Nativity Church. My father has a shop there. Since a week no one is allowed to walk in the street or to look out from the windows. We don’t see daylight, we have covered all windows with blankets. As if we are buried.

Our house has two floors, one for us, the other for my uncle with his three small children. We stay all the time in his place because it is safer there. I don’t move, I just watch TV. Bethlehem is really a small town in which Moslems and Christians live together, and we know everyone. We knew Omar Salahat who was killed near the church while he was checking his restaurant which is near my father’s shop. (They kill anything that moves, even a cat). The Israelis went into so many shops. My uncle’s friend has a jewelry shop; they stole 10 kg. of gold.

Bethlehem, 11 April 2002 — Today was the worst day. Not because of what is happening in Bethlehem � we got used to it. Tanks all around, I can’t sleep, I can’t study. I just cried all day what happened elsewhere, especially in Jenin. Hundreds of people killed. Many lie in the streets for three or four days, nobody can bury them. They don’t allow TV to come in.

Now I can hear tanks near my room. It has become normal. I don’t feel afraid. I wake up at the sound of bullets and I go to sleep at the sound of bullets. I was not afraid when, two days ago, I went out to buy some bread with my four-year old cousin. The tanks in the street started to shoot and shell. Two days ago a man was killed on the street while he was bringing food to his children. He went out during the curfew because his family was in need.

The situation in the church is still the same. I called father Rafael. He is one of the priests in the church. He told me that they had not eaten anything since six days.

I can’t really write everything because I can’t translate my feelings into normal words. In this world, the truth is buried. When you say a word of truth you are smashed and killed under their tanks.

Bethlehem, 12 April 2002 — Now I am sitting in the garden because we are allowed to go out for two hours. I can see the people rushing to the markets and stores to buy milk and bread. There are some children playing and others are talking to each other. Five minutes ago the tank near our house started shooting in the air while we were all out. Thank God, nothing happened and none was injured. Then two tanks approached us. Everyone went inside but I stayed outside.

Two days ago they buried a Moslem in the church. There was no place to bury him. I know so many people there and now they are without food for a week.

Everything changed in my little town. The roads are damaged, cars are crashed. Even trees are damaged. Bethlehem is not Bethlehem anymore. It is now a desert with destruction everywhere. There is no hope for us to live peacefully. Now there is no difference between life and death. I prefer death so I don’t see those evil crimes done to my people. Maybe it will be safer in the other world near God. My cousin asked: ‘Why can’t we play and have fun like other children in this world? What did we do to suffer?’ I laughed and told him that it is a crime to be Palestinian.

(Bethlehem, 19 April 2002) — Here we are: Another day of death and destruction. More dead people, more suffering. It really became part of our days and lives. Death is very near to us and any minute anyone could be killed. Yesterday I was watching TV with my brothers at seven in the evening when suddenly a huge explosion shook our house. My mother told us to lay on the ground and be careful. The tanks were in front of our house and started shooting everywhere. Then another huge explosion. It was dark everywhere and we could not see anything or move to hide in a safe place. After an hour of fear the tanks drove away and we found out that the Israeli soldiers suspected a car in our street to be full of explosives but the car was from our neighbours. The two huge explosions were from a plane which bombed the car, while the shooting was for nothing, just to make us and the other civilians here shake from fear and pain.

Today I woke up at nine, really desperate. I wish to stay sleeping for a long time so as not to see innocent people getting killed each day. I asked my mother not to tell me anything if they enter the church and a massacre happened, because I don’t want more pain, more tears and more suffering.

I saw today on TV a baby injured from a bombing on Gaza. His body was full of wounds and he was screaming from pain.

In the afternoon we went down to my uncle’s home and our neighbour told us to be careful. The soldiers reached our area, and they were going to enter the houses and arrest the men. My brother was very afraid.. He is fifteen years and very tall so they would think he is old enough to take him away. They entered a big apartment building near our house, checked every apartment and left without entering our house. They arrested many people from Bethlehem but thanks God our house yet� haven’t been entered.

No matter what, Palestine won’t die

Bethlehem, 20 April 2002 — Nothing new: more killing, more suffering.

Bethlehem, 21 April 2002 — I feel very sorry because each Sunday we go to church but today we can’t go as usual, and we just pray at home.

Bethlehem, 22 April 2002 — I woke up at nine in the morning hearing my mother talking in a loud voice with the soldiers. I went to see her and she told me that we have to go down. We went downstairs and I saw nearly twenty soldiers at the door, one came in and told us that we have to stay in one room. They took my brother and my uncle so as to lead them to the rooms.

They searched everywhere, they took out everything in the cupboards, drawers and everywhere. They made a mess in our house, everything upside down, nothing in its place. They stayed two hours. There was one outside and four were with my brother upstairs, four with my uncle in his house and another four in my grandmother’s house. A soldier came in the room where we stayed and told us, ‘Please, don’t worry and stay here.’

After a while they went but they are still in our area. Thank God, they didn’t take anyone. I thought that they will start ruining and destroying everything but they were not really bad. I think it depends on who is living in the house. In some houses they destroyed a lot., sometimes didn’t leave anything undamaged. The important thing is that they didn’t take anyone.

It is now 12:00. They gave the people permission to go out from two till six. So we are going to buy food.