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 Ramallah invasion—a personal account
 Neta Golan, Israel
 January 19, 2002
 
Since the assassination of Raid Karmi [Fatah activist and leader of the Al-Aqsa militia] in Tull Karem four days ago I've got that creeping feeling again, the one I get when it is obvious that the already hellish situation here in Palestine is going to escalate. The feeling I get when I see that once again Israeli policy under Sharon's right wing government is doing everything to set this land ablaze. "Sharon, wants a bombing before Zinni returns", we told others, and sure enough he got it. There is a line from a Hebrew song I love—

"Things that you see from there you can't see from here".

I know that outside of Palestine the thought that Israel's policy makers knowingly provoke suicide operations must seem ludicrous. From here it is an undeniable fact. Ariel Sharon is a master at provocation. He knows how to hit exactly where it hurts and more accurately, he knows how to humiliate a people to the point of suicidal recklessness. Raid Karmi's assassination, the home demolitions in Rafah and then in occupied east Jerusalem on the one hand and pressuring president Arafat to arrest the head of the second biggest political faction in the P.L.O., thus losing his legitimacy as a leader of All Palestinians did the trick. The horrendous Bat-Mitzvah killing has now legitimized renewing the military offensive against the Palestinian people. Prime-minister Sharon is back on his home turf.

I have been spending the last few days in lower Ramallah. Earlier today I met my friend Haki in the street. He lives on Al Arsal Street which was occupied two days ago. He carried a plastic bag with his pajamas in it. He was coming to stay with us in Lower Ramallah. I was going to the internet café and would see him later. Or so I thought. With nightfall Israeli tanks entered Lower Ramallah and advanced until they were five minutes from the city center. I was at the internet café which hurriedly closed when we began to hear the shooting from the street. Me and my friends found a brave taxi driver that agreed to take us home. Well, he almost took us home. As soon as we got out of the taxi we saw that there was shooting—red balls flying across the night sky—right above our house. Immediately we were called in by the neighbors who served us tea, and the daughter in law told us not to be afraid in proud of her fluent English, as their little girl huddled closer to her mother with every explosion we heard from outside. Israeli forces are currently occupying four neighborhoods one on each side of Ramallah—Lower Ramallah, Al Irsal Street and Um el-Shirayat and Al-Bireh. The Palestinian Authority has issued an order that no one should shoot at the tanks. Nonetheless we hear some gunfire which is responded to with rounds of heavy artillery from the tanks.

I collected my courage and after wishing our hosts and new found friends goodbye we held hands and walked back towards the city center. We walked close to the walls hoping to avoid sniper fire that way. We found an open internet café in the city center—the owner lives in one of the occupied neighborhoods and can't go home. Here we checked out BBC/CNN/Haaretz, someone must be mentioning this somewhere, but we found nothing. Has the reinvasion of area "A" also become non-news like the siege and the killings of unarmed youth?

Now that I've written this report we will again venture into the streets to sleep at other friend's house, and Ram Allah the night has just begun.

Neta Golan is an Israeli peace activist and founder of the International Solidarity Group. She lives in Ramallah.