The Occupation

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“… it is the duty of the [Israeli] leadership to explain to the public a number of truths. One truth is that there is no Zionism, no settlement, and no Jewish state without evacuating Arabs, and without expropriating lands and their fencing off.”

(Yesha’ayahu Ben-Porat, (Yedi’ot Aharonot 07/14/1972) responding to public controversy regarding the Israeli evictions of Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza, in 1972. (Cited in Nur Masalha’s “A Land Without A People” 1997, p.98))

Jerusalem é Amjad, Mohmund, Asraf, Abeer, Ahmeed and Khaled left from the Tulkurim area yesterday to work in Ramallah. Normally, they walk for 10 minutes from the village to find a taxi off of the main road and go to Ramallah. This time the road was closed and they had to walk around the closures through the mountains. They left at 8:00am trekking through the rough mountain terrain in the hot sun, watching for snakes and Israeli soldiers. They were in the West Bank where they should have the freedom to roam upon their own land within the territories. While they were hiking some soldiers spotted them and started shooting with live ammunition towards them without any warning. Abeer was shot in the leg. The men had to carry Abeer until they found a village for her to get help. The trek took the group 8 hours to arrive in a village near Ramallah where Abeer was treated.

On June 2, 2002, a 19 year-old resident, was walking to work in North Jerusalem (get this IN Jerusalemé) when he was apprehended by four border policeman (IDF) and removed to a nearby secluded uninhabited area where he was randomly beaten for two hours. One of the policemen told him to put his face to the ground and pulled out a razor then proceeded to cut his face and arm. “I saw the blood dripping from my arm, but the border policeman warned me not to look or he said he would kill me.” He later saw that the policeman had cut the Star of David into his arm. The policeman suddenly stopped when they noticed that local residents where starting to come home and the area was getting populated.

On May 25, 2002, A Palestinian woman and her niece were killed by the IDF while they were grazing their animals in the Gaza Valley village. The IDF started shooting at the women for no apparent reason and then started shooting at the nearby farms. The grass started on fire from the bullets and the woman could not leave for help because of the shooting, later their bodies were found burnt from the flames.

Israeli Brutality

On May 30, 2002, at the West Bank Qalandia checkpoint (located on a road that leads from Ramallah to Jerusalem) hundreds of Palestinians with Jerusalem ID cards (The Palestinians need to present their ID’s with permission from the Israeli government to enter) were prevented from crossing the checkpoint into Jerusalem. Many of the residents live on the East side of the checkpoint and work on the Westside. Hundreds of trucks with yellow registration plates (The Israeli automobile colored plates) were also not allowed to enter. The IDF fired rubber coated metal bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd and imposed a curfew/closure. During the shelling a child was shot in the head.

On May 31, The IDF entered once again into Nablus imposing a 24-hour curfew on the residents there. They shelled at Balata Refugee Camp. In the camp the soldiers informed the inhabitants that all males between the ages of 15-45 had to turn themselves in. (For sitting and drinking coffee?) On June 3rd, it is reported from a local source that approximately 1,500 men have been arrested. The actual number is not known because of the closures and curfews. The men and boys were blindfolded, handcuffed and made to sit in the sun for hours before being transferred in buses for interrogation. Few of those arrested have been released into random areas away from Nablus and told that they are free. The risk is great while walking in the mountains for the fear of being shot is paramount. There is a curfew meaning that locals are not supposed to be outside of their homes yet; they cannot help but hike in the sun looking for a place of refuge. “They have no place to go.,” reported the source. So far, no one has heard from those that are released because the telephone lines are cut off in most of Nablus and once again, without electricity and in turn without water because the locals pump for their water. On June 2, Tareq Kharaz, 23 was shot and killed by an Israeli sniper in the old city area of Nablus.

On June 2, 2002 a 27-year-old Palestinian woman lost her eye due to the firing of rubber metal plated bullets onto a crowd at Qalandia and a 30-year-old male, was wounded when a bullet hit his leg and a different checkpoint at Surda. In the Meantime, Marwan Barghouti who is a respected top Palestinian leader, arrest has been extended for another 22 days for further interrogation. It is reported that he is being deprived of his sleep by setting him upon a chair which front legs are shorter than the rear legs, tied and handcuffed. His average amount of sleep is 2 hours in 48 hours.

One does not really know what occurs during the interrogations the detainee’s family and lawyers are not allowed to represent the prisoners or allowed any visits. However, there is evidence of sleep deprivation, the use of tight fitting hoods and shackling that force the prisoners to remain in torturous positions for long periods of time. Stories are heard regarding hygiene and toilet deprivation for extended periods of time with threats of beating, shooting and insults that come along with a request. The family’s of the detained cannot find out if their son has been arrested or killed because the Israeli army does not reveal who has been arrested and where they are located. Mothers, Fathers and siblings wonder throughout the days in attempt to hear news of their loved ones.

Susan Brannon (a.k.a Amanda White) is an American Freelance Photojournalist and MMN’s correspondent in Jerusalem.

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