A Tale of Two Sisters: Witnessing an Undercover Israeli Operation in Ramallah (1)

Four hours ago my sister Emily, her curator Carolyn and I were shot at by the Israeli army. My nerves are still shaky. We’ve been drinking ever since. My legs are weak. I feel I can’t stand on them…I was alone in the front seat. Emily and Carolyn were in the back. Suddenly, there was a van directly in front of our car. He veered a bit towards our car. I slowed down, wondering how I was going to pass him. And then he emerged from his window… pointing an M-16 across the street and spraying bullets. The three of us hit the floor of the car. All around us… shooting, shooting, shooting. So close. So close. 

"Your heads will be on the stones" - Settler and military violence in South Hebron

“Your heads will be on the stones if you don’t leave this place”, threatened an Israeli settler from illegal outpost Havot Ma’on (Hill 833), to members of Christian Peacemaker Teams in the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani. Captured on video, but ignored by district Israeli police, the threat is part and parcel of daily life for Palestinians - and the reason for the continuous presence of international human rights workers here since 2004. A few days later, during a “routine check”, I witness my neighbor being physically abused by Israeli soldiers. Such abuse often ceases when soldiers become aware that internationals are present, filming their actions. 

Immersion Crash Course In Medical Arabic

I am now working with a different medical crew, this time in the Salfit district. This Mobile Health Unit is also sponsored by Medical Relief Society. We started at our base in the town of Salfit and had to drive around the huge settlement of Ariel, the second largest settlement, (after Ma’ale Addumin) in the West Bank. We passed through the major Israeli military checkpoint of Zatara, which controls and stifles the flow of traffic between Ramallah and Nablus. I am getting used to all this oppression which now has a strange sort of normalcy. Going out through this checkpoint was uneventful; coming back in to Salfit will be another story. 

Photostory: Ramadan in Ramallah

With the coming of Eid al Fiter and in spite of the depressed economy and Israel’s chokehold on Palestinian revenues and customs, traders and vendors in Ramallah are hoping to make some money. Some of them are children, since government schools have yet to open in the West Bank because of the strike by government employees. The vendors’ merchandise is all cheap, but it is colorful and maybe affordable. Popular items appear to be plastic weapons — plastic guns and swords. To Palestinian children, the scene in downtown Ramallah is as exciting as any Christmas season is in downtown New York to American children. 

One year after disengagement, ghosts remain

Bloodshed, destruction and fear are the remnants of the Israeli occupation army across the Gaza Strip since the Israeli settlers were evacuated on September 12, 2005 army. A year has passed since the Israeli ‘disengagement’ from Gaza, and since then there remains only the Israeli occupation’s ghost, moving from one place to another throughout the Gaza Strip — home to 1.3 million Palestinians, one of the most crowded places on earth. In myths we learned that a ghost can never kill, but instead sabotages one’s life by haunting its victims - causing panic, leaving no room for peaceful sleep. 

A moving dark cloud

In wintertime, we are used to having heavy rains sometimes in some places, while in other places nearby, there is no rain at all. You know why, simply because a cloud might be somewhere else. In Palestine, our climate is arid, dry - normally we only have rain in winter. But this summer, for the first time ever, we have been experiencing “summer rains”. Since June 27, they have been falling very heavily, with a few brief pauses when the cloud moved north to Lebanon, a region with a climate very similar to Gaza. This very dark cloud has moved back to Palestine, where people had just begun to lift their heads after the first deluge. 

Israel's rain of missiles on Gaza and Tae'er's legs

The most tragic event can easily happen when two ambulances from two hospitals start collecting the remains of the flesh of people who were killed. The collection of body parts within the chaos and destruction is definitely not an easy task, especially when there are groups of people being killed and two ambulances take the share of delivering all the victims remains to two different hospitals. Within this horrendously difficult process, one ambulance will have body parts of a victim that will take to a hospital, and the other ambulance will take (not knowing) other parts of flesh… leg, or arm, owned by the very same victim to another hospital to the north. 

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. 

On those "birth pangs"

I was in Ramallah over the past two days, visiting friends and documenting a fierce demonstration yesterday morning in the city center as Condoleezza Rice paid a truncated and pathetic quasi-visit to PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinian and international journalists from all over the West Bank crossed humilating checkpoints, braved thick traffic and fought over press credentials only to find out, one hour before the scheduled press conference, that the important question and answer period was canceled by the US handlers. It was just handshakes and rhetoric for the PA president, then off to some other part of this tumultuous region to lie some more. 

Nameless and faceless: The anonymous killed

There will be no statistics in this journal entry because what difference does 10 shredded children in Gaza, or 15 sliced children in Lebanon, or 40 smashed children in Iraq make to the international community anyway? What difference does it make when the twisted and sick US corporate media doesn’t even mention their names, or their ages, or their favorite color — something to put a human face on the mangled mess made by the latest US-manufactured, Israeli-fired missile that destroyed what used to be a nose, a mouth, two eyes, freckles, cheek, or forehead?