Report from Palestine VI

[This is a report of Donald's latest communication from Steve in Palestine, written this morning in New York.]

In the last report, I mentioned that the army was occupying a large
house in Nablus, with the original 20 occupants confined to a single
apartment. Outside this house were two Palestinian trucks that the
army had impounded. The army had taken one of the driver's ID
papers. Internationals were advocating for the trucks and the ID to
be released.

I spoke with Steve this morning 8/20 around 7 am New York Time. He
was in the Askar refugee camp outside Nablus.

He had stayed for a long time with other members of JATO outside the
abovementioned house, advocating for the truck drivers, while JATO
members also brought food and medicine for the people in the house.
The area was under curfew, but the presence of so many internationals
encouraged other neighbors to come out of their homes. They brought
food for the JATO folks. This ticked off the army, and soldiers
ordered all Palestinians out of the area, including a representative
from the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees. The
soldiers did not order the internationals out of the area. Steve
left at that time.

Over the time they stayed in front of the house, JATO people
witnessed blindfolded prisoners brought to the house. One of them
was obviously beaten up.

Late at night, about 25 soldiers left the house in various armored
vehicles, as Steve put it "to go out capturing and murdering". When
the soldiers came back around 3 am, they had something in writing
identifying the area outside the house as a "military area" and told
the internationals to beat it.

The truck driver whose ID was taken eventually got it back, as well
as his truck. The other truck driver still hasn't gotten his truck
back. This truck is filled with vegetables, which will rot, and
Nablus is full of people who are hungry.

Steve was in Nablus today for a meeting, and heard gunfire as
soldiers deployed in the Kasbah.

ISM is working to put together some strategy around dealing with
occupied homes. Right now everything they are doing at occupied
homes is ad hoc.

Steve says he has heard about an apartment building in a nearby
village where several apartments are occupied by the army, and the
other residents of the building are locked into their apartments.
They have to pound on their own doors for up to two hours to get food
or medicine (like in prison).

I forgot to ask Steve if occupying homes was common throughout the
West Bank, or was a practice isolated to Nablus.

Steve says that it serves no purpose except to harass Palestinians
and make life difficult for them. Nablus is completely encircled by
the army, and they could run their operations from their camps, but
choose to take over homes because it is more intimidating and
offensive. Paraphrasing a remark made by Moshe Dayan regarding
harassment of Palestinians 30 years ago "Let them live like dogs.
They can leave if they don't like it"

End of report

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Published on August 20, 2002 11:52 AM.

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