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 Sharon's Solution
 Anonymous, Palestine
 February 21, 2002
 
Dear Bat Shalom Friends and Allies:

Unwilling to negotiate, unable to win militarily, Sharon's policy is to intensify the daily punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in order to break their spirit. Below is an excerpt from a Palestinian woman to an Israeli friend this morning. If you would like to respond to her, we will relay your message.

Yes, there is no question things are changing in the Occupied Territories...from a policy of selective hits and terrible humiliation, we seem to now have a war approach intended to break ordinary people in worse ways than before. Just a glimpse of my life events in the past two days can tell you that this new policy is vile and extremely destructive, in fact beginning to be unbearable.

Two days ago, at around 6 pm, the now routine phone call from our friend who lives right at the Tireh checkpoint alerts us to 'movements and sounds', so we know we are going to have a hard night, as each of the three times before that this friend called, either we were occupied or we were shelled. And we have our routine preparations—windows opened, last minute shopping (the last time we were under occupation for 8 days).

At around 4 am, we wake up with those awful sounds of planes... F16's this time...you get sensitized, so instead of getting used to the event, the sounds initiate a panic attack. Sure enough...shelling... and then the phone rings: Saida, our Institute's administrator is frantic on the phone, shell shocked, rocket landed just next door, house damaged, the entire street full of civilian homes with damage not only to the physical structures, but to people, children crying, people in shock, rubble all over. And our office car, which was parked outside Saida's house was badly damaged, probably totalled. I tried as much as possible to support Saida and her mum, saying in my mind: there go 40 thousand hard earned dollars (the price of the car) but better in materials than in lives.

Early in the morning, we rushed to Saida's house... You know that the F16's are a very unique and frightening experience. The impact is like an earthquake...and when you go through it, it takes you a long time to stop having flashbacks! The damage of these things is phenomenal, not only physically but to people's psyches.

We then crossed the checkpoint to Birzeit, walking of course, watching the humiliation of our students, being asked to stop, go down on their knees and wait. This tears you apart, if you try to intervene, you end up on your knees and late for your classes. If you don't and simply cross, you are torn by what is happening to your students and by the guilt you feel for not having done something about this inhuman situation.

In the afternoon, as students were crossing back, going to their homes after classes, a few students were stopped, I think four, and the soldiers began to beat them up, just like that, one student fell, and started bleeding from the eye, people intervened, tried to stop this awful situation, but could not, the student was finally blindfolded with the blood dripping from the eye and taken away on a jeep along with another. The rest of the Birzeit crowd then went home in quite a state.

In the morning, and despite the big hits, we went to work as usual. I crossed the checkpoint walking at 7:50 or :55 in the morning or around that time. We had classes for our post-graduate students that come from all over the West Bank. At 8:10, we heard that they have closed the checkpoint even for pedestrians now. So about 3/4 of our staff and students were still in the Ramallah area, and about 1/4 of us were at the Institute already. So now, we had to figure out how to get back home, and, more importantly, how to get our students who come to us from far away—Tulkarm, Nablus, Dura, etc. back to their homes safely (they had slept in Ramallah for 3 nights to go through the intensive week of teaching). We felt like we were trapped like rats... Yes, this is how it felt.

I arrive home at around mid-day to a ringing phone... Our assistant now has bad news... one of our students, trying to head home to Tulkarm in a taxi, along with 6 other people, was caught on the road and sent to a settlement, Kadumim I was told, by Mghayyer. She had managed to call one of her classmates and inform him that now they are stuck in the taxi inside the settlement, not being allowed out or in. By that time the student—a 35-year-old nurse—called and told us they were freed. Half an hour later, she called again and now she said that the army has stopped them… Reason: the car is not supposed to be on the tarmac... When they asked how else they can go home, the soldiers pointed at the hills and wadis! Again, about an hour later, they were freed... She had set out to get home at around 8, I think she called us at around 4 or 5 in the evening, I can no longer remember, especially since we were worried about the other students.

In the meanwhile, the roads to Nablus were extremely bad, apparently the worst. We had two female doctor students, both in their 30's trying to get home. I brought them home once I got out of Birzeit and we began to contact people and ambulances and everything moving... no way to Nablus. One of the doctors has a 5-year-old child with a very high fever being taken care of by his 8-year-old brother. Where is the father? A doctor who was out of the house at 5 am because of all the murder and destruction that took place in Nablus that night. The two boys were alone and the mother was desperate to get back. We were on phones till about 3 pm trying to see how to get them through. They eventually got back home only because they are doctors and they can help patients in ambulances... They got to work in order to get home.

And then, I remembered to call my mother. It turned out that the night before, she had spent a good part of the night, because of the planes and the shelling, in the bathroom. She did not sleep she said. My heart was broken, my friend, because I had forgotten her in all this melee. At least I had not forgotten my child, she was well taken care of by my brother's family.

And...last night, once again shelling at 4 am. But as you can read in this email, what is happening to us here in the occupied territories with this new policy is worse than the physical destruction that has happened in the past year... Now it seems that the policy is directed towards breaking people and destroying any evidence of hope for a better future. But what Sharon need to realize is exactly what my mother always says: for 50 years, they have tried to erase us from the face of the earth, but we are still here...