Tragedy and inspiration in Nablus

Today no-one is being allowed to leave Nablus, not internationals (who the Israeli military are usually happy to see the back of), or the family with five small children who Freda saw while at the checkpoint this morning, waiting in the overpowering sunshine.

This morning Freda left to travel to Tulkarem, a city not that far from here. She was going to a meeting with some French people who wanted to visit Nablus and her plan was to bring them back here this afternoon, no plans of insurgence, no devise ideas, or direct action.

This is a small example of how the Roadtrap to Peace is going nowhere for the people on the street.

I don’t really know what to write, I have so many conflicting feelings in my mind and have experienced both lovely and awful things out here, met beautiful and horrible people, and heard inspiring and tragic tales. Some hours the occupation seems distant, and at other times it is overwhelming and oppressive. The mood can change in minutes, seconds even.

I’ll be chatting with a family, them speaking fair English and me speaking terrible broken Arabic, about the weather, gossip, why I am here, how beautiful Nablus is at the moment with the people on the streets, enjoying the cool summer evenings in the park, then the conversation inevitably changes abruptly, perhaps to Nasser the journalist I met last year, shot in the head by the Israeli military, or to the prison experiences of my new friends, or to how many hours it took for Soha to get to Ramallah last week with three children, only to be refused entry because she was from Nablus, the journey should take 30 minutes.

It is hard sometimes to hear all these tales, but so vital so I can return to the UK and tell everyone the truth about what is happening here every day in Palestine.

This is the point that people seem to miss, they talk about what has happened in the past so freely and both sides use historical atrocities to justify present day crimes.

Just one of the crimes committed out here against Palestinians, or Israelis, be it the racist discrimination suffered by the students trying to get through checkpoints to sit their exams, or the indiscriminate occupation and destruction of Palestinian homes, or the hate-filled killing of civilians on buses, should be enough to get the governments of the world outraged, to spur them into intervening in a real manner to secure peace here. Calling for “peace” while simultaneously giving more than $3.5 billion of aid — mostly in the form of weapons to one side — doesn’t count, Mr Bush.

What more will it take for you to do more? Have we learned nothing from the genocides of recent years, form Guatemala, Chile, East Timor, need I go on? If not now, then when?

Jenny Gaiawyn is in Nablus to get involved in “Project Hope”, a scheme to provide classes and recreation for Palestinian children, and to voluteer with a medical relief team. She is a peace worker from Britain and first came to Nablus in April 2002.