Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Struggling Under Occupation (3rd December ’06)
Many things enrage and sadden me about this incredibly common occurrence. I will never get used to a child handing me a rubber bullet, picked off the street in the wake of the army's departure. I am getting used to a shift that has occurred in me, where I experience relief that it is only a rubber bullet.
A car screeched to a stop. We jumped in and were driven high speed through the back roads to the next village. The army was operating a flying checkpoint, preventing the injured man from reaching hospital. My fear was far outweighed by my outrage. After negotiation, a lot of phone calls and precious time the army left.
Army incursions, flying checkpoints, harassment, intimidation, threats....none of these things are new, but they certainly seem more prevalent at the moment.
The rest of the past week has been consumed with work around threatened house demolitions. It is a depressing story. In the villages in Salfeet district alone we have heard of at least 100 houses who have demolition papers. According to the Israeli army the houses are 'illegal', built without the permission of Israel, even though they have the agreement of their village municipality. The pattern of demolition seems to be following the planned route of the Apartheid Wall.
Yesterday we were in the village of Burquin, where there are more than 50 houses under threat. The journey to the village is broken by a road block; huge boulders and rubble make the road impassable except on foot. Besides the damn inconvenience of it, Palestinians, already trying to exist in a struggling economy, have the added expense of broken journeys. An elderly woman squeezing through the gap in the rock, struggling to negotiate her bags is another image of Occupation. Barkan, an Israeli industrial settlement, along with a settler only road, dominate the landscape around the village of Bruqin.
A couple of days ago we returned to the village of Hajja, where we witnessed several house demolitions last week. I do not speak Arabic but it was clear the family we visited were still devastated by what had happened. A woman stared blankly into the distance and spoke with a quiet, flat voice. As we sat outside their house drinking strong Arabic coffee a depressing uncertainty hung in the air. Their home will be demolished, what they do not know is when. Their extended family lost one house last week and will certainly face the same again. The enormity of such situations is hard to internalise. It is the little things, like seeing a blue plastic baby bath hung up in the bathroom, or a rose bush in flower, which brings it closer. On the hill behind me was the remains of the agricultural demolition, huge pieces of mangled corrugated iron strewn across the landscape. And in the distance the illegal Israeli settlement Qedumin, whose existence determines the route of the Wall in this area. The Occupation of Palestinian land by the army and Israeli settlements is stark. To see photos and video of the demolition go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UHAcun3qaU For more information about demolitions go to www.btselem.org (buildings) or www.icahd.org