report from Palestine VIII

[This report from Steve himself just came through. The photo links are my own doing.]

First: The end of the truck story is that both guys got their trucks back. The one guy got his back after all the vegetables rotted.

Early on Thursday morning Steve and other folks went to a roadblock
outside a village called Tel. There was an outbreak of hepatitis in
the village, and there was an ambulance scheduled to come and set up
a mobile clinic. Steve and company set to work on the roadblock with
picks and shovels. Along came soldiers in a tank (Steve calls tanks
APCs for Armed Personnel Carrier). They weren't interested in negotiating anything and told the internationals to be gone in 5 minutes. Steve says "We saw one of them giving another one a tear gas grenade. We talked about it and decided the best thing was to leave." There was another roundabout way for the ambulance to access the village. A confrontation wouldn't accomplish anything, and people might get hurt.

In a previous report an occupied apartment building [in Nablus] was mentioned, with all the occupants locked in their homes. Steve and company went there. Soldiers told them to leave. Steve talked on his cell phone with a woman locked into an apartment in the building. People from across the way waved the internationals into another building, and brought them to an office. This was very timely, as it turned out some tanks were coming down the street.

Steve says this is life under curfew. You go outside your home, but not too far, and when tanks come, you get back inside and lock the door. Nablus has been under curfew for 60 days, during which the curfew has been lifted a total of 60 hours.

Curfew was lifted for 4 hours Thursday afternoon. Steve went with others to watch the checkpoint outside the occupied apartment building. Women and children were allowed through, but all men were stopped, their IDs taken and added to a big pile for examination. The delays for men were substantial, so that by the time their identification was checked, it was almost the end of the break in the curfew.

Among other things Steve witnessed: A woman in labor came to the
checkpoint with her husband. They were meeting an ambulance on the
other side of the checkpoint. The soldiers said they would let the
woman through but not her husband. She wouldn't leave without him.
They added his ID to their pile. Eventually, the soldiers got their
list of "approved" men who would be let through. They made no effort
to even look at the man's ID until they got this list, and even after
they got the list, they did not prioritize checking for this man.
The end result was that the woman in labor stood in the hot sun for
half an hour.

Another man had been waiting a week to rejoin his wife and children
on the other side of the checkpoint. His wife came with the kids, to
advocate for her husband. He was not let through, but the soldiers
said they could come across. The wife wouldn't cross because she was
afraid she couldn't go back, but she sent the kids. There was barbed
wire across the road that adults could step over, but was completely
impossible for the children to cross. The soldiers would not allow
any Palestinians to help the children. They were persuaded to allow
internationals to help the children. Steve was very upset by this

Steve stayed in Askar refuge camp in the home of family who has lost two sons, so their home is at risk of demolition.

Two internationals stay in Askar camp at all times, and Steve was one
of them today. He heard about Erica's arrest. He wants people to
know that she was just walking down the street, in the company of a
young Palestinian man. This man was arrested along with Erica. He
was taken inside an occupied home, his hands were bound, he was
blindfolded, hit and kicked. After two hours, the soldiers told him
he could leave. It was after dark, and curfew was in effect, so the
man asked what he should do if he was stopped by other soldiers. The
soldiers who detained him answered that they would be glad to hold
him for longer if that is what he wanted. He left (and did not come
across any soldiers on his way home).

Steve says there is a big demonstrations being prepared for tomorrow. Everyone is "hunkering down" because a tank was overturned (in Nablus??). Apache helicopters have been heard overhead.

Also, a soldier was killed in Balata refugee camp and a heavy
retaliation is expected.

Steve says: "I can't imagine how the Palestinians live with this day
after day. It's really very stressful."

That's the report.

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Published on August 23, 2002 4:58 PM.

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