Nablus Invasion Diary I: Occupied Homes and Minds

6 March 2007: We arrived on Sunday to help volunteers from the UPMRC (Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees) deliver food and medical services. Dozens of jeeps and hundreds of soldiers had surrounded the Old City and declared curfew on all of Nablus. Their stated mission was to capture or assassinate eight fighters from Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the armed wing of the Fatah movement. Meanwhile, the 40,000 residents of Nablus Old City were trapped in their homes, inside a war zone, unable to go to work or school, or even to buy food for their families. 

Nablus Invasion Diary II: Human Shields and Medical Obstruction

7 March 2007: Most of the jeeps pulled out late Monday night, but we all knew they would be back. Israeli officials announced that the operation was not over, as they had not yet achieved their objectives. Typically, the army will withdraw for several hours or a whole day, hoping the wanted men will move around and be spotted by a collaborator working with Israel, and then the army can pounce. Soldiers also remained in occupied houses, where they typically set up hidden sniper nests. 

Nablus Invasion Diary III: Resistance, Hypocrisy, and Dead Men Walking

13 March 2007: What most struck me about the Nablus invasion wasn’t the killing of unarmed civilians. It wasn’t the obstruction of medical workers and ambulances, or the indiscriminate detention of males, or the occupied houses and curfews. What I will remember for the rest of my life is the steadfast resistance of the people of Nablus. I came to Palestine to document and intervene in human rights abuses and to support nonviolent resistance to the Occupation. As I delivered bread and medicine with medical relief workers throughout the invasion, I wondered if I was really fulfilling my mission. 

A Day in the Life of Nablus Under Curfew

Nablus, 26 February 2007: Dr. Ghassan Hamdan, Director of the Palestinian Medical Relief Society in Nablus, got up at five o’clock this morning after just two-and-a-half hours sleep. Until that time, he had been distributing medicines and food and providing emergency healthcare services to the residents of Nablus’ Old City, who had been under an Israeli-imposed curfew and thus forbidden from leaving their homes since early Sunday morning. He was woken up by a call saying that a house just outside the Old City had been set on fire by Israeli soldiers and that there may be civilian casualties. 

Why I came to Nablus, despite my family's pleas to stay away

When I finished teaching my English class in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Nablus a week ago, the most pressing thing on my mind was getting to an Internet cafe to check my e-mail. It’s impossible to walk the streets of this crowded city without running into someone you know. Had I realized what was in store for me that night, I might have lingered with the friends who insisted I join them for a cup of coffee. Instead, I hurried on my way. But before I could get to the cafe, I was grabbed by two men, forced into a car and driven off. 

I went to Nablus

There were many places I wanted to see in Palestine this June and Nablus was certainly one of them. Many people were telling me not to go. It was not safe, and my plan to go on to Jenin afterwards was madness, they said. But I had things to see in Nablus, and memories to collect for friends who have never been able to go back home. From Jerusalem, Abu ‘Issa, his wife and I made our way, hoping that we would be able to drive through Huwarra checkpoint to Nablus. Abu ‘Issa had obtained a clearance from the Peres Centre in Jerusalem for passage in his car. The Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint had other ideas. “No car - walk!” 

A dialogue at Huwara Checkpoint

Why were you traveling in Nablus, he asks. There are beads of sweat on his upper lip, the stubble on his chin is fair. He has found a way to prop his M-4 carbine against the wall behind him so that its sling rests loosely on his shoulder. The blue-eyed corporal next to him slams his palm against a steel beam inches from a woman’s face. She startles and retreats to the imagined line behind us, corrects her hijab along her hair line and stares through him. 

Bombs and tanks in the night

It’s taken me a while to get used to being back in Nablus and my sleep on the first few nights was broken regularly by bangs, explosions and the 4 AM call to prayer. Lying in bed on the first night, I moved my mattress away from the window, feeling too exposed to the soldiers who have a large base at the top of the hill. In 2003 there was safety in my nationality to some degree - the Israeli soldiers were not so likely to randomly shoot internationals. Now, this feeling of protection doesn’t feel quite so strong in the light of what the Israeli military have been doing in Lebanon, indiscriminately killing anyone regardless of nationality, status (civilian or combatant) and age. 

The recurring scenario of death at Qana

It is mid-morning here in Nablus and the sound of bullets are ripping through the air from somewhere very close by. Sirens are wailing in the distance. Yesterday, around midnight, special Israeli forces assassinated two activists near the old city of Nablus. The scattered volleys and the sound signatures of different caliber bullets are tell-tale signs of a funeral procession. But what I see in front of me on the television screen is much more disturbing. Videos of little boys and girls, all dead, being pulled out from under the rubble of a building. It is much too painful to look for more than a few seconds at a time. 

Terror and Occupation in Nablus

17 April 2006 — This is just one personal account of a shocking situation I witnessed in in Nablus. In the week I have been here, Nablus and Balata refugee camp have been under regular daily and nightly attack from the IDF. All of the incursions have involved live ammunition, demonstrating little care for the hundreds of civilians in these highly populated areas. We recieved a call at 10 AM to say that a house in the center of Nablus has been occupied by the army, with the family held prisoner inside.