A two year old girl, along with a growing number of other civilians, has been killed in a village where I have friends. Terrified people have been calling, telling us that they and their entire family are under a table and everything is exploding or asking to please help to get an ambulance because their wife’s breathing became so strained that she is miscarrying and close to bleeding to death. Phone call after phone call there is no answer to give which makes everything worse.
It has been over a week now under house curfew and now the Israeli invasion has spread everywhere. I have tried to call to the towns in the North but the lines have been cut. After the curfew lifted briefly, I moved to another house where we have no water but where we do have a functioning television, and can therefore watch the news. CNN reporters were being kicked out yesterday.
Meanwhile, we are seeing on the television news a man who is sitting in a living room in Bethlehem with the bodies of his mother and brother, their corpses are unburied and he is not permitted to move them. What can he do? He must sit there with the bodies of his loved ones, all he can do is bring the cameras while the world — some of it anyway— watches.
CNN was kicked out today. There was a report but it was on CNN International and most Americans do not see that. CNN insists that they are being directly targeted by live ammunition. Also on CNN International was a story of reporters being turned back in Bethlehem and shot at, they had filmed two blindfolded Palestinians held on a stairwell before being told to go back.
They also aired an interview with one priest from the Church of Nativity pleading that there are children inside while the Israelis are attempting to invade and that the priests inside the Church are not, despite Israeli claims, hostages but remaining inside voluntarily to protect people and keep them from harm .
We see footage of water pipes in Bethlehem, broken by Israeli soldiers, with water streaming into the sky while Palestinian civilians have nothing to drink. People who are completely without water must now risk their lives to find some. The elderly, the pregnant women and newborns and people who are ill are endangered by these conditions.
Some water workers risked their lives to restore some of the water mains destroyed by the Israeli soldiers, but they could not proceed for long because they were shot at by the Israeli forces.
The Israelis lifted the curfew in Ramallah for a couple hours yesterday, only the second time in over one week. Some sporadic gunfire was heard. It is really something to finally feel light on one’s face, even for one hour.
Some American news is reporting that the curfew has been lifted, but it is not the case. We have had a couple of hours to go out only on two occasions and I still could not make it more than a couple of blocks.
People were trying to hurry and get food, but most fresh food was already rotten in the shops and people are going hungry. Water is becoming more and more scarce. Rushing to find supplies, I was squeezed against some men trying quickly to move a coffin.
The world seems to realize that the Israelis have again invaded the UNRWA refugee camps. There is no outcry that the Israelis are invading a place for civilians who are refugees meant to be especially protected by the UN.
The people from the camps carry with them the memory of fleeing for their lives from their original towns and villages within ’67 borders from waves of massacres carried out by the Zionist forces in 1947-1948. In some cases, a few men with guns are trying to resist, but somehow in the media the reasons why are not understandable, neither their right to resist Occupation under international law and heaven forbid anyone dare to speak of their right to return provided under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and according to umpteen UN resolutions now.
How heinous it is to invade a refugee camp? How appalling that the US, after Sabra and Shatila, looks on and allows this? How miserable that a world full of civilians who have undergone inhumanity and racism cannot make state powers serve the needs, deliver the rights and guarantee the basic protection of human beings. It should be our common priority.
It is still totally unclear in the Western media that it is Israel violating international law here, it is Israel which acts lawlessly and thus creating and perpetuating this terrible situation. It seems that according to Israel and with the green light of the US, the only right of Palestinians in the camps and Palestinian civilians in general seems to be to die or disappear.
Half-baked attempts at conflict resolution in the region dry up, and fail to concern Israeli politicians. Justice, which should be square one in any search for coexistence in society is too much of a bother too strive for. Better, according to the powers that be, to kill and terrorize enough that no one dare speak up for their legitimate rights or dreams ever again.
How ironic that I – solely because of my Jewish ethnicity and with the compliments of Zionism — have subsidized luxury condominium apartments waiting for me any time I want on the land of these refugees.
In the newspaper ads for these condos, my bedroom would even come with a hot tub in it.. But any refugee who presses for his or her right to return is a “terrorist”.
According to the news, one should not consider that residential areas being rampaged. No, these are “terrorist nests”. As if people here do not live with their families in homes as human beings but gather bits of branches and barbed wire with their beaks. How convenient dehumanization is to expedite war crimes being carried out.
On the television, an Israeli representative today insists that the nonviolent internationals in Arafat’s compound are “terrorist activists”. I can only laugh, thinking of my friends in there. One of them, a die-hard vegetarian pacifist who balks at a piece of meat, gets upset if she steps on an ant, meditates most of the time, and finds me “too negative”, who I lovingly refer to as a “hippie”. A “terrorist activist”!
What’s in a word? Apparently the potential to brand an entire people with a categorization that makes their lives expendable and their murders unaccountable for by anyone. What’s in a word? The right to possess terminology to the extent that the Israelis and Americans have no problem calling it the “Sedar Massacre” on the television, while I have been told to call what is happening here “casual killing”.
I put a bucket outside to catch some rain, but I better “casually” forget about bringing it inside because the guys on the rooftops keep shooting down towards our house, their “friendly” way of letting us know they are there.
So friends, family out there, remember if a SOB Israeli sniper shoots me dead to eulogize my death as “casual”. Please wear khakis. Two more internationals were shot and injured by Israeli snipers in Bethlehem yesterday. That makes at least seven that I know of so far.
Reportedly, a boy from a family who were shoved all in one room by soldiers needed to go to the bathroom. The soldiers let him out and then beat him to death. Reportedly via telephone, two children were in the corner with the body of their dead mother decomposing for two days before they could be helped.
Hospitals from all over the West Bank have too many bodies and do not know what to do, as diseases can spread. Another injured person up North has been reportedly shot, left to bleed for two hours and then shot again on the steps of the hospital. After this person was shot for a second time, the soldiers said ‘okay now you can take him”.
Yesterday, we walked up to the center of town. The tanks are stationed in the Manara. The entire street, leading up to the main plaza, both a residential and commercial center is blown out and charred.
I hardly recognize the main street. The windows are gone, glass and pieces of steel litter the streets. Tanks have smashed their way into everything. The Internet café where I used to sit and work appears to be just demolished along with much of the upper floors of buildings which appear to have been hit with missiles. A friend of mine also explored other parts of the city, she said that she saw the insides of many buildings, just destroyed from beginning to end.
A journalist from the States called and asked me to describe Ramallah prior to the invasion. She was put on the story but had no background information about this region. She had the concept in her mind that prior to last week people were skipping down the streets merrily rather than already suffering for 35 years under a military occupation, living under a brutal siege for over a year, under horrible apartheid practices which had become the design for “peace” — living under daily humiliation, deprivation and collective punishment policies of closure.
How to explain that students cannot go to university, that friends of mine have been shot over and over again just trying to go to school? How do I explain that almost the entire senior class of boys from the local high school in a village I was often staying last year were taken last spring and detained without trial, without charges?
How can I explain what it was like to return after a couple of days away and find my young friend’s school books open on the table, his English lessons, and him gone, taken in the night and beaten with his baby sister clinging to him now to traumatized to speak?
How can I explain the meaning of the soldiers yesterday storming the schools here and confiscating and destroying school records and grades?
There is still more shooting regularly in this neighborhood, without resistance fire. Again, one can only wonder at who or what the Israelis are still shooting. There were incessant explosions all last night and the floor of our house was shaking. Right now we can hear the sound of a sniper shooting and shooting again, of course, with no resistance fire. We doubt that anyone is outside at all and are only left with the question… is someone being killed or is it psychological terror? Why?
A week ago, when the Israelis stormed the media centers, they put in tapes for viewing. Those who had electricity at the time report that the Israelis were broadcasting special tapes of, edited together cuts from horror and porn films. I spoke with a friend today who confirmed this. She recounts vampire films and other clips all mixed together. This was actually someone’s job to put together. What will they think of next?
We sat around today and were talking about what the Nazis did during WWII. We spoke of ways that psychological terror is used in many different instances when ethnic cleansing the aim of the State institutionalized violence. My friends here know more about history during WWII than I do. We are speaking of the Warsaw Ghetto.
The day before yesterday, on television, there was a program commemorating April 4th, 1968. It is the day that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. It has a lot of resonance here right now. The television stations here aired more footage of the civil rights movement than I have ever seen at home in America in my entire life.
MLK was assassinated only 4 years before I was born and in my public school education, it was really a time period sold to me as ancient history. I was educated to believe that goals were all reached in the struggle against racism. My friends here have more education about racism in the States than I do.
From an objective perspective, watching the Americans largely failing to understand what is going in Palestine and failing to fight its reflection in the States, I realize that the decades from the 70’s to the present to be something like the Oslo years here.
I wonder when people will wake up in the States. Everyone will have to pull together to stop this. I am trying not to feel despondent. I send a call out to everyone there who is trying to do something to keep trying and not to give up.