Today is day 11 of the re-occupation of Ramallah. We hear less shootings but from time to time we hear explosions of forced entry into houses and I keep hearing the same stories over and over again. Ask everyone to gather in a room, they start their ‘searching’. It is supposed to be a search for people, but in many cases they were ‘searching’ for something else, money, jewels, laptops, mobile phones… etc.
Jenine Al-Bina gave me a call to tell me that she cannot be connected via e-mail first because she has no electricity and second because they stole her laptop during their ‘visit’. She is neighbor to Elan Halevy who is in France. They ‘visited’ his apartment and turned everything upside down. Majdi al Malki is also a nearby neighbor. They used his house for two days, used the bath, kitchen, food, sleep, then stole his wife’s gold and his two girls gifts. They did not forget to urinate on his carpeted floor.
Today, I managed to get finally a bottle of gas for cooking, it took me one hour to find it, I was so happy to get one, everybody was asking me from where I got it. The usual shops for cooking gas were empty, the shopkeeper told me you are our customer, I will tell you, they allowed us only one truck to bottles, but it is in the industrial zone you have to get a taxi, if you find, and get one. This becomes so difficult, but I have to get one, since two days I am using my electric oven to heat water and also for cooking. I found a taxi, take my empty bottle, go to the place, get a bottle and come back full of happiness. I paid 35 NIS for the bottle and 30 NIS for the taxi ($12).
In my house, Amal was waiting for me, we have to go and give some money to a woman who lives in downtown Ramallah. This is the second case today I heard about, without having any money to buy food. We gave her some money. Her baby had an infection for two days with a fever. We told her to take him to one of the Medical Relief clinics.
We went to the market to buy some vegetables and fruits, forget it. One kilo of tomatoes cost 10 NIS ($2). On normal days we get 4 or 5 kilos for that price. I was angry, and said to the man, “Are not you ashamed, why you are raising the price?” He denied and said “This doesn’t stem from us, they allowed very little quantity from Israel. Our gardens where we get the good vegetables are sealed. Not even a bird can get out of Jenin and Nablus now.” We left without buying.
I wrote down a list of things to buy, but when you see the devastation in the city, shattered windows, the dirty streets, the clouds of dust filling the air, the provocative presence of the Israeli troops in al-Manarah square, I lost the desire to buy anything.
I ask Amal about our friends in Nablus. She tells me what happened to Inas. She lives very close to the old city, the hottest point now, they visited her at 3 a.m., searched her house and asked her to come with them. They took her as a human shield to her neighbor’s house about 20 meters away.
They ordered her to knock the door, she rang the bell, they laughed at her and told her “Stupid! Don’t you know that we cut all power in the city?” She knocked with her hand, but was pushed aside and they put a kind of dough on the door. It was blown up in a second while she was close to it. She started to shake all over.
In the house a family of 10 people, half asleep. To wake them up, they threw a stun grenade with a huge reverberation. The mother started to weep, saying, “Please don’t harm my children.” Inas started to cry to see her see her very proud neighbor weeping like this. They ordered Inas to leave. “How, and what if they shoot me?” she askes, “It is curfew and almost dawn.” They pushed her out but she insisted.
The officer called out to let her go and she returned back to her home in her night dress and her slippers. I said to Amal, the story I heard on ANN t.v, an Arab satellite channel, at 3 a.m. They interviewed Dr. Tariff Ashour, he is the head of what he calls a ‘field hospital’ in the old city of Nablus.
During the interview you can hear clearly the cries of injured people dying. He said that in front of him were 18 corpses, and 3 on the way. They were mostly civilians, “one was shot dead when he came to give us some blankets to cover the bodies, another one was shot when he went to dig a grave in the courtyard of the hospital”. The field hospital is located in an old mosque with very simple equipment.
“We could not get out of the Old City even a single one of the injured or any of the bodies,” he said. “We have no morgue in this place. What we have are plenty of first aid staff who can treat light injuries, but for serious injuries we have to leave them to die. These are the ones you can hear crying now and we can do nothing to help them. I have another one with serious injuries in his leg, we have to cut it tomorrow at 7, we have no other choice.”
“For your information,” he added, “we do this under continuous bombardment, this place was hit several times, but we have to do our duty. Where are our Arab brothers? Where is the world to see this?”
I was telling Amal what I heard. I felt so angry. Why did no one prepare a proper hospital there? Why did no one provide needed equipment there? She replied that no one ever expected that, “They will go to this limit.”
I tried to calm myself down, and said at least they are better off than injured and killed in Jenin refugee camp, where they have nothing. I heard Dr. Mohamed Ghali, head of Jenin public hospital saying on Al-Jazeera t.v that he gives directions to people in the camp what to do and after 5 days of fighting and heavy bombarding in Jenin refugee camp and the Old City, and the Old City of Nablus, they did not allow one single ambulance to get to these places or to evacuate any injured or killed.
Kamel Jaber from Jenin tells me too that his friend Ibrahim Said has the body of his son Walid of 19 years old in his arms since two days now. He does not want to bury him but even if he did, he cannot. The Apache helicopter did not stop firing missiles and nobody knows what to do with their dead.
On al-Jazeerah too I heard the voice of Hussam Khader, a Palestinian MP from Balata refugee camp. “Yes, they fired three missiles at my door step. My young daughter could no longer speak and we cannot take her to a doctor.”
Then Mahmoud Al-Alool, Nablus governor, “The situation is horrible and catastrophic. I keep getting calls from the Old City about the killed and the injured. If the Red Cross cannot manage to get them out, who
On April 7th, they demolished Hendeya building with an F.16 bomb, a building of 7 floors turned to rubble. An old woman refused to leave her house. She is buried now under the rubble. They commit war crimes
but who will punish them?
“But people in Jenin refugee camp manage with their injured,” said Amal. “They have a ‘field hospital’ ”, she insisted. I was surprised and I wished that what she is saying is true. I said “But yesterday, I heard the head of a first aid clinic there and he does not say that they have a ‘field hospital’ ”
“No,” she adds, “I have a friend there and she told me that some shabab (young men) in the camp collected all towels and keffeya (the checkered Palestinian scarves) and put them in a big pan of water and boiled them on coal because they have no electricity, of course. They use these towels as sterilized bandages.”
“These might be useful for light injuries,” I asked her, “but what about serious injuries?”
“No, they die,” she said.
I felt so depressed and angry. We saw a big poster of Yasser Arafat in al Manarah square written on it ‘Just decide what you want, you are the great knight of this time’. I noticed that something was written in Hebrew over the Arabic writing and asked some passing by what is written. Nobody could tell me. When I came back home, my daughter told me that they wrote over Arafat’s picture, “Mother, mother, where did you leave me?” or something like this.
In al-Manarah square we meet many other women, all say Hamdulla assalama, (“Thank god for your safety”). “Yes, for the time being,” we answer back.
We were a small group of women but we shouted at soldiers. “Go away, go back to your mothers! Sharon, get out of our land!” They just stared at us but after few minutes they threw a stun grenade with huge sound, and we ran away.
Amal was laughing and said history has to register that the first bomb thrown at demonstrators was probably thown at women. “As usual,” I said, “women are always the first to demonstrate after each occupation.” This happened after the 1967 war and in 1987 in the first Uprising.
I came back home exhausted as usual, my hair felt like metal wires, so dry and full of dust. I need to take a shower. My daughter cooked some spaghetti again. I feel no desire to eat. She forced me, saying “You have to. This might go for a long time. We have to survive. At least we are lucky that we are not
dead or under ferocious fire like in Jenin or Nablus.”
When she mentioned Jenin and Nablus, it was too much for me and I started to cry. She left the food and joined me crying too. “It is good for our survival to cry sometimes,” said Yasmine.
By 7p.m, I hear the news. “We extend our hand to the Palestinians for peace. We want to live side by side with them. They have to abandon their leadership. They brought on them catastrophe after catastrophe,” Sharon said.
I felt that he was not talking to us. He talks to some aliens he sees. He addresses the outside world with this talk but us we know how he speaks on the ground. How can politicians lie like this?
Sharon decided to add three ministers to his government, all right wing. One of them, Eiphy Etam, is an ex-general who says publicly that “The land of Israel cannot contain two nations, it is us or them. We will not bring buses to force them into but we will make their lives so difficult to leave by their ‘free will’.”
What a free country, what a free people, what a free spirit! With these people in power, I think the worst will happen, although we did not see it yet.