Day 2: Saturday, March 30
Palestinian Land Day ... Reports of soldiers shooting Palestinian police forces in Arafat's compound. I know one of these police officers. He's not a terrorist or a militant, as the army has labeled them. In fact, he and his family are extremely poor and he works as a police officer for the Palestinian Authority simply to feed the family, whom he hasn't seen in two years. (if he's caught by the army, they'll arrest him-simply because he is in the police force; he's got nothing to do with suicide bombings.
Day 3: Sunday, March 31
Went shopping for food today. Still no military activity in our area, so got food for families in the building. Samira, other neighbors, and I sit around watching various news stations for hours on end. The worst station to watch is CNN. Their reporter in Ramallah does an excellent job, but then we watch programs interviewing analysts and U.S. and Israeli officials and I want to crawl into a hole ... I know that average Americans would never stand for what's really happening here. Bush said Israel has a right to defend itself in this war on terror; so who defends the Palestinians? I'm not living among the members of the Taliban. These people aren't terrorists; they're regular families who have been deprived of their land and rights by Israel's occupation for the last 35 years. If anything, they're being terrorized by this army. I know I'm terrified. We're seeing pictures of the five Palestinian old men who were executed (shot in the head) in the compound. The Israeli soldiers are going house to house day and night, looting, pillaging, stealing, and harassing.
Day 4: Monday, April 1
...Men over the age of 15 are being taken out of their homes and sent to schoolyards while their i.d.'s are checked. It's freezing cold and rainy out. Tonight the army has been bombarding the Preventive Security building; there are 400 people inside, including 60 women and children. It's near our apartment building so we think our turn is next. ...
...Samira and I are afraid to go to sleep. She's terrified they're going to enter our flat and take her away or make me leave. They've already taken some students from Birzeit University to Gaza. As a student, she's afraid (since some of her family lives in Gaza) that they'll take her there, too. We sat on the living room floor and listened to our refrigerator hum, waiting for the army to come to our neighborhood. Maybe we sound silly, but if you try to imagine knowing that men with M-16's are invading neighborhoods all around you and actually entering people's flats, you can begin to imagine the fear we're feeling.
Day 5: Tuesday, April 2
... It's our turn. Around noon, the tanks started rolling into our neighborhood, like cockroaches. Eight drove around and three parked on our street and let out soldiers. They (most of whom are 18-22 year old boys) began scattering and going into buildings. We watched from our window as they took over two empty buildings on our street and behind our building.
... they stationed themselves on every corner in the neighborhood and began shooting - trying to provoke shooting from Palestinians who might have guns in the area. We live near Am'ari refugee camp, so when/if there was any return fire, it probably came from there, where a number of people are armed with guns (though the army pretty much cleared the camp of any weapons or suspected "militants" the last time it invaded Ramallah). We spent the entire day on the floor-afraid of going to the window where we could be targeted or caught in crossfire.
At around 4 PM, the tanks began firing at unknown targets. Listening to tank-fire from nearby is like listening to thunder while sitting on a thundercloud. I went to the window when I thought they'd finished and I noticed the tank below me on our street was aiming at some target across the street from our building. It fired; we screamed and hit the floor. Talked to our neighbor later. All of the neighbors have children under the age of 5 who are terrified. Can't imagine how our neighbors above explained to their 2 year old son Laith why he has to sleep on the floor.
Day 6: Wednesday, April 3
All quiet at home. Tanks rolling around, but not much else. Action seems to be in Bethlehem. Now I'm worried about my friend's brother, the one in the Pal. police. He, others like him, and some 200 civilians have sought sanctuary in the Nativity Church. (In order to enter the church, they had to disarm themselves). Also worried about my friend's mother and sister who have just moved back to Bethlehem from the U.S.
We found out for sure that Ramallah's main water pipeline has been destroyed. We're going on water from the storage tank on our roof. Haven't washed hair in 6 days for fear of running out of water, and we're using disposable dishes so we don't have to wash anything. Considering I was a microbiology major in college and that my research is about water and disease, I had a complete breakdown about the water today. We can't even flush the toilet regularly, and we've only had this going on for 2 days. Others in Ramallah haven't had water since Saturday. We're also running low on gas for cooking. The whole building shares the gas tank-that's six families. All the food we bought is going to waste, because we can't cook it. The electricity goes out every so often. I sincerely hope it doesn't go out for a long period--then the food will all spoil. Politicians talk in terms of land and borders and militants. The real occupation, the real humiliation, the real roots of the problems come from things like no water, no constant supply of electricity, wasting food in some parts while people starve elsewhere.
Last night we watched doctors and nurses from Ramallah Hospital bury 29 people in one mass grave. There was no room for the corpses at the hospital and the electricity had been cut. The soldiers wouldn't let the hospital staff take the dead bodies out until yesterday. One mass grave. Reminds me of pictures of Bosnia. We also watched a story about a man in Bethlehem whose mother and brother were shot and killed in front of him and his two children. The army wouldn't let him take the corpses out for 2 days. He had to keep his kids in the bathroom so they didn't have to watch their uncle and grandmother decompose. All these events are more ingredients added into the pressure cooker.
I am paralyzed. I just cant bring myself to post sometimes - the ferocity of the bias that pervades my favorite websites and pundits is disheartening. I've been reading the Diary of the Invasion of Ramallah and it's been sobering - it's a day by day account from a US citizen living there. Some excerpts:
Posted by Aziz P. at 4/05/2002 03:27:00 PM