I am sick. Sick and tired. Literally, physically and politically. I am in bed. My temperature is around 40, that is, double the heat outside. The last sentence written on yet another press release, demanding the international community to take urgent action, proved to be the limit of my tolerance. I could not handle it anymore. Before I knew what was going on, I was sitting at the clinic, next to my office, grasping for air, waiting for a doctor to see me. At least I had access to medical care. At least I could get some medicines.
The week before I was preoccupied with attacks on medical personnel. On 4 March 2002, Israeli occupation troops opened fire on an ambulance, killing 58- years old Dr Khalil Suleiman, head of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society Emergency Medical Service in Jenin in the West Bank. Four paramedics and a driver who were travelling in the ambulance were injured. An injured girl was being transported in the ambulance at the time. Four days later Dr Ahmad Nu’man Sabih al-Khoudari, the director of the small Yamama Hospital in al-Khadr, was shot dead as he drove to the al-Dheisheh refugee camp, on the fringes of Bethlehem. The doctor had received assurances from an Israeli official that his security would be respected, however, passing a checkpoint he was shot and killed by heavy Israeli fire. Since 4 March a total of five health personnel have been killed and several others injured. These killings illustrate Israel’s blatant disregard for the provisions of the Geneva Conventions.
The last thing my eyes had seen were the original pictures of the extra-judicial execution of Mahmoud Salah. It choked me. I could not breath anymore. Asthma and bronchitis, which had been dorment in my system for a while, came back as quickly as Israeli occupation troops entered the Palestinian town of Ramallah overnight. I collapsed. I was exhausted, but could not sleep. Apache helicopters, occasional shooting and other noises kept me from sleeping. I skip CNN, BBC, Sky News to prevent myself from hyperventilation. I do not watch Israel’s IBA English News. Too much, I hear the word “terrorist”, less the word “occupation”, less the word “humiliation”.
Fever struck me, a constant headache, high blood pressure. The weeks preceeding Israel’s invasion of Ramallah had kept me busy, working, writing, calling, urging, requesting, convincing, demanding, yes, demanding urgent action. “Inaction is complicity”, screams an unusual statement issued by Amnesty International. Indeed, “remaining silent amounts to condoning.” But the world remains silent. True, Slobodan Milosevic is not the only war criminal. He is not the only one who committed war crimes in order to cleanse an indigenous population. Even a warning in our press releases does not shake the world, nor move eyebrows. Of course we know what Ariel Sharon had done in Lebanon and Gaza. In 1971, under the euphemistic title the “Pacification of Gaza,” Sharon imposed a brutal policy of repression, blowing up refugee shelters, bulldozing large tracts of refugee camps, imposing severe collective punishments and imprisoning hundreds of young Palestinians. Numerous civilians were killed or unjustly imprisoned, their houses demolished and the whole area was effectively transformed into a jail. Sounds familiar. Even saying that he would hit the Palestinians hard, did not made people in the West stand up and say we must intervene. We must end this insanity.
No, we just watch, move our eyebrows and carry on. It’s Israel. It’s the exception. It’s the victim, the impossible aggressor, eventhough statistics, documents, UN reports, and other witnesses say something different. “Prednisone”, says the doctor, “you need prednisone”. Reading the side effects on the package, I am not surprised. Even without taking the medicine, I already suffer from depression, hypertension, nausea, high blood sugar levels, and increased susceptibility to infection. The package cautions: “you may need supplementation at times of high stress such as surgery or serious illness until your adrenal glands recover their function.”
I can’t stand it anymore. What are you waiting for? Another Sabra and Shatila? Another Sebrenica, Bosnia, Rwanda, East Timor, Kosovo, Kandahar or New York? Just tell me how many need to get killed, so I know when to start pressing my demands again. Just tell me at how many homes must be demolished, so I know when I can stop counting and demand compensation? Just tell me the number of crimes at which I can lay my pen to rest and demand the world to end the impunity.
For the time being, I’m in bed. Sick and tired.