Anna Baltzer

Existence is Resistance

My last day in Nablus I got to discover another one of the city’s gems: An-Najah University. I immediately took to the old architecture mixed with modern sculptures on the main campus, but what inspired me most was watching thousands of students return to the frantic bustle of daily university life so soon after soldiers had released the city from hostage. Resilience is a defining character of Palestinian identity in my experience, and I was more impressed than surprised to see Palestinians asserting their determination to get an education even in the most difficult circumstances. 

War and Irony in Hebron Hilltops

The small Palestinian Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron is home to some of the most violent ideological settlers in the West Bank, who have moved into local homes by force and parade the streets with guns, terrorizing local residents including children on their way to and from school. Unlike most settlers in the West Bank who move to the Occupied Territories because the Israeli government encourages them to do so with financial subsidies and other programs, the settlers in Hebron are here because they believe the city of 150,000 plus Palestinians belongs exclusively to the Jewish people. 

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.