Bearing Witness

Nablus: “It is our life”

Every night the city of Nablus is shaken by the sounds of war, sounds that drive away sleep. One awakens with a start, not knowing if one has slept, not slept, or if we are in a waking nightmare. There is shooting, nearby explosions resonate, go off in the distance, and return as an echo. You don’t know what is happening or where it is happening. At first, you are very worried, then you stop thinking about it. One waits for daybreak with resignation. The people around tell you it is like that every day of the year here in the district of Nablus, that nothing has changed since 2000, that it is simply part of the panoply of the war of terror waged by Israel, added on top of the countless other repressive measures.

Soldiers regularly penetrate the small alleys of Nablus or its villages at night. They break down doors, throw grenades. House by house they search for men they say are “wanted”, are “suspects”. They force families out on the street, then they search, breaking everything, and if they don’t find what they are looking for, they order mothers to call their sons to hand themselves in via the loud speakers. If the “suspect” doesn’t appear, they may arrest the father, the brothers, or blow up the house. They leave before dawn.

The shooting ceased after midnight. But the fiercest fighting started at 4:00 this morning when the city was shaken by a strong explosion. Then intense shooting. The sound of the shooting was twice drowned out by the voices of the muezzin, voices going far, returning as an echo as we held our breath.

What happened tonight during the raid was not the usual. Israeli troops arrived around 4 am without making a sound, by surprise. Generally, the soldiers don’t come face to face with combatants because the wanted men hide. They know they are hunted and, with their poor rifles, are no match. But this morning, the lookouts resisted. The fighting lasted several hours. The Israeli army lost one dead and six others wounded, several very seriously.

Four young Palestinians were captured and taken away by the soldiers. They are undergoing interrogation by Shen Bet. The information that they will manage to extort will serve to justify the next round of raids and punitive actions.

We are waiting for the army to return at any moment and know that the repression will be all the more severe as the dead soldier is the son of the commander in charge of the region.

The people are at the end of their ropes. Israel has humiliated them, starved them, taken away all of their rights. They live here as prisoners. When people present themselves at the checkpoints – which are military zones where the soldiers amuse themselves by installing a reign of terror – they are humiliated, arrested, beaten. The young those between 14 and 30 years old – are not allowed to pass. They must take, at great risk, the mountain paths. A student at An-Najah University was arrested at the checkpoint one year and one-half ago and is still being held for having slapped a soldier who gave him a body search.

After six years of deprivation and massacres, one senses the people are all the more revolted and on edge that, beyond the persecutions of Israel, that they will also undergo the strangulation by world. A scandalous world that punishes and starves an entire people for having voted for Hamas.

It only reinforces their spirit of resistance. To rebel is the only thing that remains for them to protect their battered dignity. Because of this, one senses they are determined, ready to hold out against the entire world until that moment when the latter finally feels the full shame of having committed such a horrendous crime, until it understands that demanding the respect of their stolen rights is the legitimate right of the Palestinians.

It remains that what happened tonight will not be without serious consequences for them. The Israeli army will return to punish them all the more ferociously. But they continue on with their work, proceed as if nothing had happened. They look at you with the calm regard of those who know they have humanity on their side. It is their strength. “It is our life,” they calmly answer when you worry for them.

* Written by Silvia Cattori on the 18 July 2006, available @ www.silviacattori.net

While things have calmed down slightly in Nablus since the end of “Operation Hot Winter”, a major Israeli military incurrsion in Febuary 2007. I have still haerd of many miliatry incursion since I have been here, about one every second day. Where “suspects” are arested, beaten, their families put out in the street and on two occocation that I have heard of killed. Unfortunately It’s is their life.

 

Advertisements

November 25, 2008 - Posted by | Media | , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: