Regional Programs > Israel
& Palestine > Next Story
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
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...