Daily disruption in Balata: A four day overview

The time of relative quiet that the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) initiated during the Palestinian Authority elections, in order to please international observers and media, is now definitely over. While before the army kept coming at night, the IOF now also causes trouble during the day. The main target of these daily IOF attacks on Nablus is, once more, the Balata Refugee Camp. With almost 30,000 inhabitants — the largest camp in the occupied West Bank — it is situated on the outskirts of the city. 

Back to 'normal' in Balata

Nablus, 15 January 2005 — Lately the Israeli army has been showing up regularly at night, but after some quiet days following the elections, military activity is becoming “normal” again. This morning two jeeps destroyed a few market stands at the main entrance of Balata camp and provoked the kids in the street, who responded with stones. The jeeps kept driving into the camp for about two hours, but they finally left after the bigger jeep’s front window was hit by white and blue paint, leaving the driver unable to see anything through it. 

"Democracy" under Occupation

Perhaps you saw images of flag-waving youth in Ramallah. Or maybe you heard the optimistic words of George W Bush and other world leaders about new opportunities for peace. Yet from where I was sitting in the West Bank city of Nablus, one thing was clear: voting for a president in a state that does not actually exist will not change much in the lives of the people here. It is clear how much the Palestinians want peace and good government, but after hearing the glowing, yet often patronising, cliches about ‘Arab democracy’ that have been bandied about in the media recently, the fact remains that Palestine can never experience true democracy while it remains under occupation. 

Mahmoud Abbas campaigns in Nablus

Three days before the general election in Palestine - the first since January 1996 when Yassir Arafat was elected president of the Palestinian National Authority - Abbu Mazen a.k.a. Abbas was to visit Nablus. He had waited until the end of the campaign possibly because his nearest rival, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi is well loved in this, his mother’s native city. But on this day, January 6, 2005, the Israeli soldiers stationed at the Hawarra checkpoint were unusually polite as people passed through without incident or excessive waiting as international television cameras recorded the historic moment. 

Interview: What the IDF is doing in Nablus

Some of the claims herein are shocking. I honestly hope that the interview - originally conducted in Hebrew - will impel people to action and that the commanders responsible for such abuses will be held to account. It is worth remembering that the soldier’s unit was ‘exemplary’ in that it was considered to be one that had relatively good discipline compared to other fighting units in the IDF. The interview is thus testimony to the real nature of a military force that is often portrayed as ‘the most moral army in the world.’ After reading this interview, it is hard to understand how such a mythology can be sustained within the Israeli body-politic and in the mainstream of US public opinion. 

Nablus: When does it stop?

“Where is your howiya?” shouts an Israeli soldier at me. “I don’t have one,” I reply. Huwara checkpoint seems quiet. Israeli women from Makhsoom Watch try to speed up the process by watching at the scene. Palestinians are standing in line awaiting inspection. “It’s forbidden to enter Nablus for foreigners and Israeli citizens,” the soldier says. Since my father left Nablus in 1963 and since I was born in The Netherlands I don’t have an Israeli occupation identity card, also known as “howiya”. It takes some time to explain the immigrant soldier that I want to visit my family. 

Violent invasions, extrajudicial killings, and suicide bombings

The Israeli invasion and siege of Nablus city ended two weeks ago now (Wed Jan 7), with a return to the nightly machine gun fire from the mountains, daily mini-incursions, and deadly proddings by jeeps and the occasional tank. With the invasion competing with the horrific Iranian earthquake, aircrashes, Sharon’s speeches and the Christmas holiday, media coverage was minimal, in Israeli, international, Arab and even Palestinian media, adding to the Nablus perception of abandonment by the world. Mika Minio-Paluello writes from occupied Nablus. 

Nablus: Resistance Under Occupation

In the midst of an already month-long invasion, the sheikhs announced over the mosques for everyone to yell from their windows and their roofs “Allahu akbar” (god is great) together for an hour. It began with the voices from the mosques, together, “Allahu akbar” again and again, the voices growing louder and prouder with each chant. Then, a chorus began from the old city, and then the mountains and the camps. Thousands of different voices, in different rhythms and tones, yelling and chanting together, their sound almost drowning out the noise of the tank fire around them. Kelly B. writes from Nablus. 

Act immediately to lift the siege off Nablus, Balata and Beit Foreek

Nablus has been under siege for the last 10 days while Balata refugee camp has been under siege for the last 18 consecutive days. We have just heard that every single entrance/exit to Balata has been sealed off completely. No food or medicine is allowed in. Medical relief teams are being obstructed and at times completely prevented from passing through. Activists from ISM (the International Solidarity Movement) were attacked while carrying out their missions to observe and bear witness on what the Israeli occupation authorities are brutalizing the Palestinian population. 

An American surgeon in Nablus

“For the next two days I examined many horribly injured children who were shot by Israeli soldiers or were injured when their homes were bombed and destroyed by Israeli F�16 bombers. I later operated on several of the children to repair their disfigurement and deformity.” The following text is a personal account of a September 2003 humanitarian mission to Palestine sponsored by the Palestine Children Relief Fund (PCRF), where Dr. Edward W. Gallagher worked at Rafidia Hospital in Nablus. Note: images illustrating this article may be upsetting.