A sleepless night, the shelling continues

AP Photo/Carina Appel

I haven’t slept last night. Apache helicopters hovering above our appartment, the sounds of impact of tank shells, and heavy machinegunfire. It sounded like 500mm ammunition that was keeping me from sleeping. Strange as it is, the longer I’m here, the more I become a military expert, recognizing ammuntion, types of missiles, and the countries the equipment originates from.

This morning both CNN and BBC World reported that “heavy gunfire was heard” near the headquarters of Jibril Rajub in Beitunia.

Yesterday afternoon, a colleague in Beit Jala informed me that five foreigners and a Palestinian cameraman were initially injured, during a peaceful march in the town. Israeli soldiers in armoured personnel carriers opened fire on international peace activists. At that time a group of more than 150 peace activists came within feet of the armored vehicles then opened fire into the road and wall in front of them, spraying shrapnel and stones into the crowd.

Among the peace activists was Jeremy Hardy, a British comedian, best known for his appearances on the News Quiz and BBC Radio 4’s programmes. Jeremy was not hurt, but went to help one activist who had a shrapnel wound to his hand.

According to eyewitnesses the soldiers aimed towards journalists covering the march and hit one who was clearly marked as “PRESS”. The injured, including 59-year old James Budd and Aisa Kiyosue were taken to hospital and later released.

Overnight, Israeli forces entered and are completely occupying Qalqiliya, Tulkarem, and Bethlehem. Last night, while having dinner at a friend’s home near the Old City of Jerusalem at 9.00 pm, the telephone rang. It was friends trying to find out how we were.

Apparently, shortly before their call, a car had exploded near a Jerusalem checkpoint, this detail the only one reported in the news. At that time it was not clear where exactly this had happened and we could only hear one ambulance outside. Later we found out that an Israeli police officer and a Palestinian were killed, and two other persons were injured in the blast. The roadblock at which the blast occurred is one of a number erected between the eastern and western parts of Jerusalem over the past week.

- picture AP Photo/Carina Appel