Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Anger and Tears at Israel's Apartheid Wall, A Wound Slashing Palestine to the Bone

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Anger and Tears at Israel's Apartheid Wall, A Wound Slashing Palestine to the Bone

Article excerpt

Today Israel's attempt to murder, destroy 1 and to break the will of the people of this Mountain of Fire-Jabal an-Naar-as Nablus is known, has escalated to an intolerable level, though we expect it to get much worse. Our lovely mountains are ringed with fire as in past millennia, but now it is the bright searchlights and floods of the illegal Israeli "settlements" and military camps which light up the night sky. We are completely encircled by them, and with their powerful American weapons colonists can see any one of us at any time and shoot us dead. And they do. The Siege of Nablus is tightening, with invasion, murder, maiming, arbitrary arrest and destruction increasing exponentially.

The Journey

We are hoping that, today, the UPMRC mobile clinic will get through to Qalqiliya-a city of some 45,000, enjoying an enviable climate, gloriously set across hilltops and sweeping down into fertile vales. We leave at 8 a.m. with the Women's Clinic, directed by Dr. Haala Hanani. The dangerous road out of Nablus is via the horrible Beit Iba checkpoint, and today many jeep- and tank-points are positioned along the short way: it is clear that something sinister is afoot in Nablus. At Beit Iba there are five ambulances held on either side, and more arrive by the minute. The soldiers' aggression is alarming. So we wait. I call another UPMRC driver, Feras al-Bakri, on my cell phone: "Where are you now?"

"I am at Beit Iba checkpoint where are you?"

"Look in your mirror," I say-and a few brief, light moments as our eyes meet in the mirror! Our driver, Riy'ad, wants to know the English words to describe the seemingly un-driveable surface upon which we are travelling, and I realize there aren't any-surely this has never existed anywhere on earth before, but perhaps on the moon.

The Colonies

Then-we see a paved road! But, alas, it is not for us-it is what the soldiers describe to me as "a Jewish-only road," solely for the use of the illegal colonists in the illegal colonies, dishonestly called "settlements," which have mushroomed everywhere: Kefar Save, Ari'el, Qarne Shamron, Indumin, Korne, Ma'ale Shamron, Sheken, Ac'ale Shamron, Qedamiun, Homesh, Enav, Avne Hefez-the names of a few I noted. These are built on stolen Palestinian land and render the rest of the land unusable by the farmers who have tilled it for thousands of years-because the illegal usurpers, cozily called "settlers" by the U.S. and Israel, shoot at them if they enter their own fields. As if this were not enough, extensive areas along the road have been taken to build shopping malls and industrial parks-closed, of course, to Palestinians.

The town of Azzun, producing the best kalamantiina (clémentine oranges) in the world, now completely walled-in and ringed with these illegals, has only one locked entry, behind which 18,000 people have lost their livelihood and land. Every sign and notice along this road is in Hebrew, because the whole area after the Sarra T-Junction is now clearly "Israel." At the Azzun roadblock, incidentally, the IDF soldiers demand cigarettes and coffee as an "admission fee." The choice is to give it or go back. All along the way, checkpoints appear literally from nowhere. Jeeps simply pull out of junctions with five or six Israeli soldiers jumping out, brandishing guns-all part of the plan to disrupt all aspects of normal life and destroy the potential of a future Palestine.

The Landscape

The "roof" of Palestine is a fertile area of outstanding natural beauty, a scented land clothed in self-effacing greens, the gentle olive everywhere interspersed with the darker tones of cypresses, billowing clouds of cherry and almond blossom, red roses growing wild, and fragrant wild thyme and sage, the prized za'attar and mammiyya of Palestine-the last named for Mary, mother of Jesus. Under the trees is spread an emerald carpet scattered with narcissus and purple iris, crimson anemones and tulips, tiny white camomile and daisy, yellow buttercup and cowslip. …

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