It’s 2:30AM in the West Bank. A while ago, tanks roared on the main road in front of Dheisheh. We see an APC (armored personnel carriers) parked at the entrance to adjacent village of Doha, into where several Israeli military jeeps have just rolled. As they conduct an operation in the darkness, we sit and wait in silence, in the curfew imposed refugee camp.
In the last several days, Israelis have been demolishing houses belonging to families of martyrs throughout the occupied territories. There are at least 4 houses in Dheisheh and 3 in Doha with demolition orders. In the Bethlehem area alone, over a dozen houses are slated for demolitions, as a punishment for their family member carrying out an armed resistance against the occupation. The Israeli troops I now see have mostly likely come for them.
Right now, I just received a call that tonight they are going to destroy 2-3 houses in Dheisheh, and 1-2 houses in Doha. Dheisheh is so densely crowded and destroying one house means damage to many many houses around them. My friends living in those neighborhoods are going to evacuate their homes in coming hours.
A large boom sound vibrates the air. A house belonging to —- in Artas Village, behind Dheisheh, has been destroyed.
Two more tanks roll into Doha. Although the entire Bethlehem is awake, holding breath at home, it is dead silent outside because of the curfew. I hear roars coming from Doha, but can’t tell if it is an APC or bulldozer. Shots ring in the air. My stomach turns. No dawn prayer calls from the mosques this morning.
A huge huge huge blast just shook through the entire community. My hands are shaking as I type this. Right before this happened, I saw lights of heavy vehicles moving about through the trees, in Doha village across the street. Then, an enormous military vehicle, which I could not tell if APC or bulldozer came out of the village, parked in front of Dheisheh, turned off the light. 2 minutes later, the explosion shook through us, all of us from in and out, and I heard shattering glasses all over. We are ok here in our building, for having predicted this and opened all windows to minimize the damage. I am still shaken.
It seems they ended the operation for the night. Several Israeli military vehicles left for the direction of Bethlehem. A three-story house belonging to the Nabatiti family in Doha village was blown up into pieces, and all what is left is piles of concrete debris, pieces of which flew over into our building. I don’t have the name of the family in Artas village at this point.
I sent out my last email in such a shock state, but the pre-dawn prayer calls did start around 4:15AM. With the prayers flowing out of the minarets in the background, I heard heavy equipment noise and saw yellow lights of military vehicles, the exact action of which now we all have experienced.
With the sun rising, people have started to gather around the demolition site.
The last several nights, people of Dheisheh camp have been anxiously bracing themselves in anticipation of these actions. Tonight, they did not come to Dheisheh. But as I recall the enormous force of explosion, it sends chills down my spine because I begin to grasp in a more concrete sense what this could mean to this densely packed refugee camp. And how this will be another one in the chain of Israeli destructions that have devastated - economically, physically, and spiritually - the lives of so many of my friends whom I hold dear to my heart.
And what these two families had to go through tonight is just a fraction of the thousands of properties destroyed in this Intifada.