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Balata, ou la mort à petit feu 12/12/2003 |
The International Solidarity Movement members based in Naplouse-Balata... 12/05/2003
BBC: The child victims of repeated lies 12/14/2003
Une douleur d'homme 12/09/2003
To not give up is to stay alive 11/27/2003
Going to Palestine Nov. 2003 (Anis Online Guest Essay)
Don't be Afraid 09/30/2003
Wonderful Jean Ziegler 09/25/2003
Israel doesn't even respect the living, it could at least respect the dead 08/25/2003
The unilateral war 04/26/2003
Jenin under hatred 04/2003
Nablus withstanding 04/2003
Gaza, the land of the sad oranges
Rafah the cursed 04/2003
I protest 01/25/2003
For complete web bibliography see Silvia's Room
Balata, ou la mort à petit feu
Silvia Cattori, 12 décembre 2003
Les sirènes des ambulances hurlaient. Ceux d’entre les enfants qui n’en avaient eu que pour la peur, avaient des mines défaites. La rue était terreuse. Les marchands ambulants remettaient - pour la énième fois - fruits et légumes sur les étals avec des gestes empreints d’une grande lassitude. Les hommes rasaient les murs.
Les femmes s’étaient mises, qui a balayer, qui à jeter des seaux d’eau devant le seuil de leur porte, avec une insistance qui trahissait leur indignation. Les « jais » étaient venus cinq fois pour commettre crimes sur crimes. Cinq fois où il avait été impossible aux mères de garder leurs enfants sous clé.
Victimes du jeu pervers mené par les « jais », dont les irruptions ponctuelles et perfides, les attiraient dans un piège, des centaines d’enfants partaient à toutes jambes dès qu'ils entendaient le bruit angoissant des tanks ou des jeeps. Une fois lancés, ils ne connaissaient plus la peur, motivés par une seule chose : la revendication de leur liberté et le respect de leurs droits.
Les enfants parlaient des « jais », (les israeliens) sans émotion, comme s’ils parlaient de quelque chose d’incompréhensible, d’irréel. Ils disaient « les jais» sans haine, comme chez nous on dirait « les Arabes ».
Depuis leurs véhicules blindés, systématiquement, méthodiquement, à coups de bombes assourdissantes, de grenades asphyxiantes, de balles réelles, les « jais » invisibles incitaient les enfants à répondre à leurs provocations, avec des pierres.
Quand les « jais » ont terminé leur jeu macabre et se sont retirés, il y avait vingt petits corps gisants sur le sol. Dont trois grievement blesses. Le plus jeune avait 4 ans. Le plus age, 14 ans. C'etait un jour triste, un jour pareil a un autre, ce 3 decembre a Balata Camp. Il y avait là des photographes, des cameramen, tous palestiniens, et des internationaux de l’International solidarity movement, atterrés à l’idée de savoir qu’il y avait en Palestine, tant d’enfants perpetuellement livrés à l’horreur, et que nul, au-dehors ne se souciait vraiment de protéger.
Qui étaient ces soldats perfides au point de tuer des etres totalement innocents ? Pourquoi faisaient-ils aux enfants palestiniens, ce qu’ils ne voudraient pas qu’on fasse aux enfants israéliens ? Avaient-ils un cœur ?
Affamer un enfant, persécuter un enfant, tuer un enfant, est un crime ! Un crime odieux.
The International Solidarity Movement members based in Naplouse-Balata accuse the Israeli army of leading an absurd war against children.
Silvia Cattori, December 5th, 2003
(Occupied Palestine) Every single child has the right to stay alive.But the children of Palestine - exposed to the Israeli army's violence - face death constantly. We, the members of the ISM, present in Balata camp - while in Geneva, the world's greatest men are uttering striking Peace declarations.- are deeply shocked by the Israeli army's continuous invasions of children's home. Every day, soldiers leave their camp to take position in very populated area with hundreds of children in the street, only to shoot at them with war artillery. These invasions targeting already dispossessed children, have no justification whatsoever, no reason to be carried out. No one threatens these soldiers who come to provoke them. The world must stand to it that these children , exposed to the soldiers' violence are not given the right to a normal growth and happiness like other children. Today we witnessed acts of absolute madness from the Israeli soldiers . What we saw is not new . But it is not less scandalising. The world can not go on leaving these children to themselves, defenceless and traumatised by an army in war against them. We ask the international community to do whatever is in its power to stop the terror and murders that hurt the children of Palestine.
BBC: The child victims of repeated lies
Silvia Cattori, Dec. 4, 2003
Translated from French by Dean Thom
During weeks the military occupation forces lead an atrocious battle against the children of Balata, the small refugee camp near Naplouse. Miltary forces, it must be said, entered their forlorn camp with orders to terrorise and provoke the children, in order to lure them to their armoured jeeps where they lay hidden, like mice to a trap from which they would never escape in one piece.
This is the commentary that accompanied the BBC's televised pictures of Palestinian children from Balata camp (1) throwing rocks at a tank : "The violence in Palestine continues ».
And so he who sees these pictures, real, but accompanied by a distorted commentary, only sees a pack of aggressive children throwing rocks at a tank. A tank, attacked by the rocks of these little monsters, which doesn't look good.
If the journalist's commentary that accompanied these pictures had said " The Israeli violence in Palestine continues", it would have painted a different picture.
He who sees these children at the foot of the tank, but with commentary explaining that the violence was provoked by the Israeli army, would have noticed an entirely different reality: he would have seen the tank as something terrible and the children as innocent victims.
When I saw these televised pictures, distorted by the BBC journalist's commentary, I forgot that the day before, I had seen violence against the children of Balata, brought about by Israeli soldiers. Therefore the victims became the lynchmen.
By not specifying that the "violence was Israeli", the children who threw stones appeared to be the aggressors and the Israeli army who responded with machine gun bullets, wounding 20 children, the victim.
Therefore, whether through negligence or intentional omission, the journalists betray ther viewers.Just how far does their biased presentation of the facts, covering the injustice and the crimes of Israel, go towards influencing others?
To be a true witness, whilst trying one's best to detach oneself from the current impressions that are only too real, is to shed light on the intolerable things that are happening to innocent lives.
Now, that which the Palestinian children suffered so terribly on this bloody day in Balata, perfectly captured by the cameraman who risked his own life in order to do so, has been completely erased by a commentary that distorts the facts.
These children, injustly targetted by the insanity of soldiers who seek them out in their homes, to such an extent that they are driven to throw stones against attacking vehicles - without ever hitting any of the hidden soldiers - deserve to be recognised as the true victims of the barbaric acts of these soldiers who incessantly persecute them.
Une douleur d'homme
Silvia Cattori, Naplouse, 9 décembre 2003
Quand je suis arrivée au check point d’Howwara, il y avait une grande tension. A cause des soldats, plus nombreux que d’habitude, et des véhicules militaires qui passaient sous votre nez à une vitesse folle, comme pour vous faire sentir encore plus vulnérable.
De l’autre côté du check point, une foule énorme attendait de pouvoir rentrer à Naplouse. Parmi les hommes en état d’arrestation j’ai reconnu R. M., étudiant à l’université, le jour, employé à l’hôtel Al Jasmine, la nuit. Il était au désespoir car, contraint à rester là depuis plus de six heures, il n’avait pas pu se présenter aux examens. Il a encore eu le temps de me dire que les hommes qui étaient dans la fosse avec lui, étaient des étudiants universitaires. J’en ai compté trente deux. Ne pas se battre pour les arracher à leurs cruels geôliers, eut été une impardonnable lâcheté.
Je suis allée dire à l’officier - un Russe d’une trentaine d’années - que je ne partirais pas tant que ces hommes n'auraient pas recouvré leur liberté. L’officier m’a signifié que si je ne partais pas, il appelait la police militaire, et qu’il faisait son travail de vérification. Il ne vérifiait rien du tout. J’ai vu les cartes d’identités que les soldats avaient séquestrées, empilées dans un coin. Tout cela était du harcèlement et n’avait rien à voir avec la prétendue sécurité. Ce sont des milliers de Palestiniens au-dessous de 35 ans qui sont chaque jour punis de cette manière, horrible à observer, quand ils se présentent aux 500 check points semblables celui-ci, dans tout le pays.
Après plus de six longues heures d’immobilité sous un soleil accablant, avec interdiction de bouger, de parler, il s’est produit ce que les soldats escomptaient : que l’un ou l’autre de ces hommes captifs sorte de ses gonds.
Un garçon s’est mis a crier qu’il voulait retourner à la maison, qu’il voulait ses papiers. On aurait dit qu’il était prêt à mourir plutôt que de se faire humilier davantage. Un soldat, s’est précipité sur lui avec la violence de la foudre et lui a donné un coup de pied aux fesses en hurlant: « Je te tue ».
Le garçon a aussitôt soulevé sa chemise et, la poitrine a découvert, il a crié : « Tire, tue-moi si tu en a le courage, tire, moi je n’ai plus rien à perdre ». Ses compagnons le regardaient avec angoisse, avec passion. Ce garçon, engagé dans cette lutte inégale, était courageux; il résistait vaillamment, il suscitait leur admiration.
Six soldats sont arrivés, l’ont empoigné, qui par un bras, qui par les cheveux; ils l’ont cogné à le faire saigner, menotté, embarqué dans une jeep. Il s’agissait de Ra Fat Alzafadi, étudiant de l’université de Najah, âgé de 22 ans.
Il y avait quelque chose de pathétique dans cette muette communication qui unissait les Palestiniens, plongés dans leur douleur d’hommes. Quelque chose d'impressionnant que ces brutes, dont les traitements avilissants ont continué jusqu’au soir, étaient incapables de percevoir.
To not give in and stay alive
By Silvia Cattori, Occupied Palestine 27th November 2003
Tr. from French by Itani
What I witnessed today was very hard to stand even if not a drop of blood was spread. To watch these soldiers taking satisfaction in humiliating and insulting other men without being able to stop them, is a kind of torture that leaves its marks for ever.
Today is the last day of 'Eid el Fitr'. A day supposed to be a day of kindness and love . There is nothing of this kind here, in theses lands haunted by the Israeli soldiers fanatism.
When I arrived at this cursed place, a great number of people were queuing, waiting to be authorised to get into Naplouse. Others were waiting to get out of it.
Watching armed men put others who are unarmed in such a position of servitude, and being unable to change what is happening, makes one very angry towards the politicians who govern Europe . these leaders who pretend that they are concerned and worried but who, afraid of the critical consequences they could face, driven by cowardice and indifference, condemn the state of Israel only hazily.
A state that, in the eyes of the tormented Palestinians, only young scornful soldiers represent and act for.
One also feels fierce for all the supporters of Israel like Adler and Finkelkraut-only to mention the most dangerous ones- who, for a very long time, have been doing whatever is in their power to embellish the Israeli who commit crimes and defend what is indefensible. Dishonest people who want us to believe that the State of Israel is a democracy, that the courageous Jews who live in it and engaged war against all of their neighbours are the victims of the Arabs and of our wickedness. And who finally want us to think that the Israeli torturers-because they are Jewish - are great people.
Down here, one feels even more keenly, how important it is to point at these impostors and fight them. Because these men , who are highly regarded, are the representatives of a state that engaged war against children and established Apartheid. Journalists, politicians, honest people can not keep silent any longer by fear of being called by them anti semitists.
Finkelkraut, Wolfowitz, Perle, Adler; are each one, part of the whole scheme that can not be dissociated from what is tragically happening in the Middle-east.
These men, during the long cruel years the Palestinians suffered, prevented the truth to be heard, facilitated the wars and covered up for criminals. Voices we hear ,here and there, who claim that these people are harmless and that they should be ignored , are making a huge mistake . The men should be strongly opposed to, exactly like Sharon should be , and for whom they are only puppets used for propaganda .
That's all I was thinking about when I found myself in the middle of all these people kept in confinement between concrete walls; watched by ugly soldiers, threatened to be killed if they do not comply with the abuse. I had time to verify the ugliness and the dirt, this never cleaned up place is full of; and where neat people arrive to only to have their dark clothes covered with dust.
Facing the cruelty of these barbarians in uniform , I was filled with anguish and the air became unbreathable, but the Palestinians, who have been engaged for a long time in this unequal fight, are wonderful: despite of it all, they are stoical:
It is one of the reason they deserve to be cared for.
"Are you scared?" I asked a young woman, her baby in the arms wrapped up in a pink blanket. She shrugged. Then she said, in a tired voice: "One must stay alive, one must forget the fear."
When I turned over to my right, I could see, lower down, three young men, kept at a distance from one another, their hands tightened in the back, crouching.
They looked frightened, as if the whole word's cruelty was painted on their face. When one of them tried to get up to take the numbness of his legs; a soldier ran towards him, threatened him with his gun that he stuck on his tummy; It seemed like a dance of death with an handcuffed man , who had the courage of his fear, and an heavily armed soldier showing off his inhuman brutality .As the young man was getting back with fear, the soldier kept on tormenting him with even more rage.
The whole scene took place without anyone being able to intervene, not a sound was heard. When I called upon the soldiers' conscience , he just answer me in a sarcastic tone : " I have no conscience for people like you."
When it was my turn to get to the check-point, I was surprised to hear that I was not allowed to get through to the very near Naplouse where Z was expecting me.
How could I possibly be a threat for the security of these criminals if I entered in Naplouse ? Their security! It is them who spread confusion , who sat up injustice, only to justify the despotism and violence they enforce on the Palestinians as well as the system of apartheid they established to lead them to hatred, revenge and outburst.
During those long atrocious years, the European diplomacy, instead of taking the bull by the horns and take action for the Palestinian population got confused in futile declarations and other peace deals as absurd as they could be illusionary.
The world should immediately send international observers; in each vehicle that transports a Palestinian, there should always be a witness, as well as on each check-point and at all the other places of persecution; Not hunted and despised witnesses, like the powerless volunteers that we are, but witnesses to whom we guarantee that they are allowed to record on video to show the rest of the world, the frightening truth that Israel wants to hide and that our media, accomplice to its violence, skilfully glosses over.
With a middle aged Palestinian-American, we tried our luck at Awartaa check-point. A check-point situated down low an aggressive Jewish settlement . There was a long line of men dressed in dark clothes waiting. The vision of these tall, stout and silent men lined up like sheep was impressive. With my comrade, we could see that nobody was moving forward ,so we took up to walk up the queue; our passports for only shields. We found observation posts and a crowd of soldiers snarling in an incomprehensible language in order to make us stay at a distance. They made us step back.
When we got back to the line, the men looked like meditative in a kind of peaceful thoughts. They had no other choice but to stay there and wait for the soldiers to consider allowing them through to get home. Their deep eyes talked about respect, friendship and unsubmissiveness.
We crossed over the freezing open country, we dragged our luggage and bumped into men who were , like us, looking for an opening. We went through the Bourin check -point without any difficulty, then another. At the third and last check - point, soldiers were blocking up the road. We tried to talk to them , to call upon their mercy: but there was no way.
We took the road back up until we found a taxi driver that offered us to try the impossible: take the road overlooking Howara check-point and exclusively reserved to the Jewish settlers. We drove by a settlement surrounded with electrified fences and reached an Arab village. We thought that we had finally succeeded, but at a road block, we were stopped and asked to drive back.
All this shows how much the Palestinian have no way of breaking loose from their torturers : their hands and feet are enchained.
When we came back to Howara check - point in order to find a vehicle that could drive us back to Ramallah that we left in the morning ; the crowd was even bigger : children were crying , students had to waste time and money , parents and grand-parents had to stay all day without food , without a drink, without being able to go to the toilet.
And the 3 handcuffed young men were still there at the bottom of the bank; their eyes imploring the people in the crowd who wanted so much but could not.
In these moment in time, the air is difficult to breathe ; no one moves , no one shows a feeling.
At that point, I realised how much coming out and face the soldiers, as hard as it can get - was important to the Palestinians.
Don't be Afraid
By Silvia Cattori, September 30th 2003
Tr. from French by Olivier Roy
(Translator of Edward Saïd)
The shattered eyes of Palestine are staring at us. They are craving for unity, for justice, for truth, for humanity. Those are the eyes of generations of children who have been deprived of the happiness of their age.
The eyes I am talking about are those of this young Palestinian kid whose gaze, straight and profound, came to rest at us with curiosity, with warmth. Green eyes oddly contrasting with the apocalyptic landscape of greyness of this April morning, when, horror-stricken, we entered the ruined historic quarter of Nablus. The eyes of this young kid were talking about F-16, tanks, machine guns, of corpses still warm under the rubble, of made up soldiers who sowed terror and destructions beyond imagination. Eyes hurted by the pain and humiliations inflicted upon him by those barbarians, brandishing the Star of David, who withdrawned a moment ago. We were the April 22nd 2002.
When we asked him : " What message would you like to hand out to the world? ", the child didn't hesitate to retort to us, with his eight years old : " Don't be afraid. "
We were pinned down to the ground. This children gaze was saying to us with strenght that the Israeli soldiers could do anything, but that nothing, neither the crimes nor the collective punishments nor the Merkava, nothing would make his people surrender, never…
The crying green eyes with their long black eyelash of this Palestinian kid never left me.
I turned back to know what happened to this little kid whose courage guided me, without me knowing it. I didn't find him.
" Don't be afraid. "
Those few words, violent and soothing, I haven't been able to unveil them until now. By fear of distorting their meaning. By fear also of not having been able to figure out all their scope. Today, I want to render thanks to them.
" Don't be afraid. "
Help us to give all its meaning to the cry of the child bearing all the sufferings of Palestine inside him.
" Don't be afraid. "
The child thrown into the dark by Israel's cruelty was saying to us, with rage, passion and confidence, not to fear being on the side of the resistance, not to fear challenging tougher than us. That there is no middle way… that we have a duty toward truth and perceptiveness. That we must be able to choose on which side we stand : beside the shooting Israeli soldier or beside the shot Palestinian?
Among this huge disaster we meet this Nablus kid drawing us out of this mess and with him, a society, certainly ravaged and confined, but which remain lively, free and creative, despite all opposition.
" Don't be afraid… you must not be afraid of the toughest… together, united, we can beat them… we have beauty and justice our side… Them, with their tanks, they are dig their own grave. "
It's often in times of distress that humans reveal their greatness.
It's the gaze of this child which must encourage us to serve their cause, as humbly and efficiently as possible and incite us to side with those who, without compromise, without ambiguity, commit themselves in the fight with dignity.
Edward Said tried hard until the end to indicate us the way of dignity and solidarity. His ultimate message has now become a legacy for everyone of us.
Wonderful Jean Ziegler
By Silvia Cattori, September 25th 2003
Tr. from French by Dominic Fitzgerald-Kühl
Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, payed an official visit to Palestine in July 2003. This was the first time a UN rapporteur was allowed to investigate the situation in the occupied territories.
Jean Ziegler submitted his report in early August to the High Commission for Human Rights, as well as to the two parties concerned. He is due to present it to the General Assembly in New York in the autumn -unless Israel succeeds in having its presentation postponed sine die: Tel Aviv understands all too well the threat posed by this report and is doing all it can to undermine Ziegler's findings it has already complained to the UN that the High Commission made the report public before Israel had the chance to officially acknowledge it.
The report states that the hunger and malnutrition present since the beginning of the occupation are directly linked to Israel's punitive and apartheid-style policy, and are in no way induced by natural causes. The report shows with extreme precision how Israel has attempted to cow Palestinians in the territories it occupies through combined military might and a deliberate starvation policy.
"Around 60-percent of Palestinians are now living in acute poverty … and are now completely dependent on food aid; less than one in two households has access to one meal a day." You cannot fail to understand the despair of a parent who has no means to feed his family.
In his 25-page report, Jean Ziegler doesn't mince words. He shows great courage, firmness and directness - qualities all too rarely present at the United Nations. His assertions, as precise as they are striking, should make waves and land Israel in the dock, if the media would only give the report the importance it deserves. All is there: violations of the right to food, human rights the wall of apartheid, confiscation of land and water sources, humiliations, deportations …
According to Ziegler, the escalating food crisis in the occupied territories is definitely meant by Israel. As a result "over 22 percent of children under five are now suffering from malnutrition … about 15 percent suffer from acute aneamia, which for many will have permanent negative effects on their physical and mental development." These statistics are all the more disturbing as they apply to a fertile land that was always self-sufficient before the Israeli occupation.
Ziegler has compiled evidence that Israel has resorted to the silent weapon of hunger and slow death while simultaneously launching sporadic attacks.
Continuous destructions of Palestinian homes and the closing-off of entire parts of the territories, preventing people from reaching their work places and farmers from getting to their fields, have brought the economy to its knees. These measures alone are "directly responsible for the slow agony of the martyred people of Palestine".
The members of the mission led by Jean Ziegler returned in a state of shock and were astounded, by the massive difference between reality on the ground and perceptions of onlookers. "whereas the media report the targetted assassinations and suicide bombings whith tunning regularity, not a word is said of this unseen tragedy."
Appalled by such a humanitarian catastrophe - "worse than I imagined", Ziegler hasn't felt inclined to pull his punches. The wall under construction, he writes, "constitutes yet another violation of the right to food by Israel, which, de facto, confiscates thousands of hectares of fertile land at a time". "This eight-metre-high wall is Sharon's latest idea when pushed by the international community to accept the creation of a Palestinian state.
"It is unacceptable that military measures meant to protect the Israeli population are imposed in such a way that they endanger the food security of the whole Palestinian population," Ziegler adds. "There can be no justification for harsh internal closures that prevent people from having access to food and water; otherwise the imposition of such military measures amount to what has been called a 'policy of starvation'. The widespread impositions of curfews, roadblocks and travel permits is the source of the humanitarian crisis."
Furthermore, "the totally disproportionate security measures … bantustanisation of Palestine, unprecented destruction of trees, irrigation systems and infrastructures, deprive many Palestinians of their right to food", thus making their very survival impossible.
As I write these words, the debate is raging and gaining momentum about Jean Ziegler's report. The Israelies do not accept its content, judging it to be polically biased are accusing Jean Ziegler of a 'political attack that will lead nowhere' and have announced they will be lodging protests with the UN.
For his part, Jean Ziegler is unflappable - a man for whom only truth and justice count. "My mandate is precise: the respect of the right to both solid and liquid food. That is my only concern. I aw a horrifying humanitarian disaster which worsens because of the occupation. I have carried my mandate to the letter; I have reported the drastic deterioration of the dietary situation of the Palestinian population and the reasons for its being. I have merely reminded the obligations of an occupying force as regards the population under its control. Therefore I have only done my job".
All those who have fought hard over the years inside Palestine and from outside Palestine for the truth to come out can take their hats off to Jean Ziegler. He will undoubtedly be Israel's next target and will know the fear and intimidation of all who dare speak out against its criminal policies.
Jean Ziegler knew what he was letting himself in for. He could have chosen a less intimidating region; many other countries await his arrival. But after Brazil and Bangladesh, he has chosen to go to occupied Palestine and to give a hint of justice to the Palestinian people.
He is ready to pay the price from his courage.
Israel doesn't even respect the living, it could at least respect the dead
By Silvia Cattori, August 25th 2003
Transl. from French by Oliver Roy
Parties, associations, men and women of peace and justice, where are you?
Why don't I ear you scream " Enough! " when faced by this injustice.
Every day which pass with your silence allows Israel and the United States to go farther in this horror. Where are the Human Rights champions, those fighting against racism, always so fast in accusing us of anti-Semitism?
Last night, I was watching the news on CNN.
I was shattered in front of those images, always repeated, of men, women, children, killed in Gaza by those missiles droped from planes.
Palestinians can no longer be in harmony with their sky because it has become synonymous with horror. The horror permanently brought down on them by the Israeli pilots, flying over the Gaza Strip day and night. How can it be that the world still tolerates silently those States killing human beings so brutaly?
I was there, shattered, in pain, thinking to the families of the victims of this blind violence, when Dan Gillerman appeared on the screen, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations.
To my surprise, Dan Gillerman, talking about the Palestiniens, drumed out twice : " They are animals, they are animals… " He said that with disgust, with violence, with satisfaction, while at the same moment, frightened Palestiniens were gathering up their injured and deads, screaming of pain.
Dan Gillerman is an ambassador. One of the highest representatives of the Jewish State of Israel. If he says that like this, it must be that the Israeli citizens agree, in great majority, with his crazy words.
Most of the Israeli extremists firmly believe that the Palestinians, therefore the Arabs, are " animals walking on two legs. " The word is henceforth officially proclaimed on this 24th of August. This means that, if Palestinians are " animals ", Israel can exterminate them all and, us, we should not shed a tear for such a kind of people. There lies what the Israeli ambassador is preparing us : their crushing. We had sensed it.
If the Palestinian ambassador had proclaimed, after the Jerusalem massacre, in order to minimize it, that Israelis are " animals ", the world would have rised up like a single body to condemn him.
What are you waiting, men and women of this world, to take a stand against the crimes of Israel? Does human beings have the same value, either they be Palestinians or Israelis?
Should we all abandon the Palestinians to their gloomy fate and support without conditions the military occupation, colonization, the Apartheid Wall and the racist policies of Israel or otherwise be considered all like anti-Semites?
We don't want this world. We will fight it with all our strenghts.
Today, Israel is the only State which dare to challenge the governments of the world by its total lack of respect toward the laws and principles governing the most elementary rules of humanity.
In today's world, there is not another State exerting a so cruel tyranny over a defenceless people.
The unilateral war
By Silvia Cattori, April 26, 2003
Transl. from French by Veronique Itani
Batala camp, Occupied Palestine. At 11 :30 a , we received a phone telling us that a tank was entering Jerusalem street in Batala camp. 7 members of the International Solidarity Movement ( ISM) went there right away only to discover that the worst was actually going on. 2 Merhawa , 3 jeeps , 1 APC , a bullet proof vehicle were in position against a non existing enemy. In this agonising street , there were children and elderly ;there were home. What did these soldiers come there for ?There is no explanation to their presence but one can easily suppose that , since the mise-en-scene has been staged over and over again in the past: They had come there to kill blindly , to terrorise , to abuse , to cause so very much pain. The ISM members did not disturb them at all : They shot at them in the legs, above their heads to make them go.
They killed a 18 years old young man , injured 7 other persons- including 3 very badly-As soon as blood had spread out, the UM/PMRC and UHCC ambulances took off to the rescue of the population. Soldiers hidden in their vehicles shot at them too, to prevent them from getting through to the injured. Then , children started to throw stones on this iron made junk ; the only way they have to defend their territory, their home. And that is exactly what the soldiers were waiting for : a confrontation. They made their war in this already bleeding street ; and it lasted for hours on end. Tear gas grenades: everyone choked; deadening grenades, etc . By now , there are Apaches or may be M16s .The sky is rumbling. It's a war taking place in a desert , against lifeless people who go on walking in the street as if nothing was going on: It's their daily life. May be we can pretend that we are facing a civilised country ,a democratic army , as they send soldie rs to fight against children with a massive arsenal ? An arsenal built to annihilate another army that would have missiles , tanks , etc .
What right does Israel have to invade camps and towns where the Palestinians try to live feet and hands tight under siege . At night they are thrown out of bed to be captured , during the day ; they are taken away in the street . It is immoral , it is horror. Nevertheless , international correspondents do not seem to be any astonished. Their duty is to inform us , to denounce injustice : the daily crimes against civilians. On the contrary , these journalists are not at all interested in what is really happening , and keep it all off the record.
Jenin under hatred
By Silvia Cattori, April 2003
Transl. from French by v.i.
(Occupied Palestine.) To get to Jenin, there is no other way but to drive across Calandia. We have to take a 'taxi service' after the checkpoint at the junction between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
I took the last seat left in a mini van. I glanced at my 8 companions: they were young , modest and looked shy. The driver was just about to start off the engine when suddenly , a police jeep came out of nowhere , followed by another with a loudspeaker: They shouted in arabic that everyone had to stay still.
In the mean time , a crowd of silent Palestinians was moving down and up the dirty street that no one ever cleans.
I could clearly see the policemen, of course they were Israeli ;they took the men' s- of suitable age- identity cards .My companions did not utter a word. With the Ids in hands ; the policemen moved back in their bullet-proof vehicle. The men , still full of dignity , were forced to stand under the rain until their papers were given back to them while the policemen were laughing at the humiliation. Were they going to arrest them or let them go?
In one year only , tens of thousands of Palestinians have been kidnapped this way. They have been thrown in jail illegally. I learned the other day that in Sharon's time, 35 000 Palestinians have been jailed for different length of time.7 500 are still behind bars. What were they feeling , all these men who always keep their emotions to themselves ,when they were taken away?
The trip was fascinating and difficult at the same time. Fascinating because my companions gave me a spontaneous and warm welcome. Difficult because of the sadness they bore of having their land stolen.
We barely see any Palestinian on the road. It gives you an idea of how efficient and harsh the restrictions are set up on the population. We only see Jewish settlers and military vehicles with Israeli flags.
In the countryside , when we arrived near a checkpoint , the men seemed to apprehend , but they got ready to show their IDs once again. Their gestures became slower , their eyes sadder and their faces froze. They came out of the van with their arms high above their heads , defeated..
I knew I had to hide the fact that I was going where I was actually going (…). They are obsessed and have very strong suspicions over Jenin and the people who want to get to it..
I was still in the van when the soldiers asked the men to get undressed. So they did right away. Except one. They took off their jackets , their shirts and timidly pulled down their trousers.
The Israelis pointed their guns at them while one was walking towards the men with a threatening attitude. None of the men put their eyes down ; they kept looking at the hostile soldier. There was a real magnetic strength mixed with humility in this look. My eyes came across the stubborn man's. I understood he would not give in. May be my presence helped him. he had not been any unpleasant to me , he had even tried to get my sympathy.
When the soldier threatened him with his gun and asked his colleagues to take him away , I pulled on the last and unique rope left and hope that he would find , deep in his heart , something that would look like a sense of humanity.
I don't know how or why , but the atmosphere gradually turned. While they were searching them, they found a little painted box made of cardboard. It intrigued the soldier who stepped backwards as if he had been threatened by God knows what. He ordered its owner to open it up. A tiny chick showed its head out. Easter was near. The soldier looked silly. The Palestinian with his baby bird had succeeded in one second, in disarming the soldier. The atmosphere was less tense. When the van drove off , each one of us was a lot more appeased ..
When we reached Jenin , I felt my companions worried and apprehensive. The driver whom I learned to really appreciate in these anguishing minutes tried to get some information here and there. I understood then , that we were in an army patrolled zone. Soon enough ,the driver saw a tank and soldiers in position.
Before they even ordered him anything , he turned the engine off , went out of the van arms high above his head , our IDs in hand and his shirt wide opened. He walked slowly , his pace showed fear.
It was not a check , it was worse. It was one of those antechambers of death like many others in Palestine. That's why we could not possibly bump into many people. Jenin is still under siege .Its children can not get in and out without risking their life. It's unbearable. Soldiers are not belonging to an army but to a gang. They are gangsters.
Among the Ids , there was my passport. Soldiers knew that there was a foreigner on board. There was a threatening tone in their voice , their faces were scary. The driver examined them with fear.
This man was doing this job so well; fighting each day on the road to pay his new van back and feed his young family who have to put up with the permanent soldiers' threat.
The others, like him ,were workers and were going back home to see their family in Jenin. Because they were from Jenin , they had to incline and accept the idea that they could eventually be shot at, their integrity , identity and body could be threatened at any time.
It's unacceptable, why no one understands that we all have a moral duty to protect the Palestinians against all these death squads?
It was obscene. They made us all get out. They threw our belongings on the floor, they kicked it. The Palestinians were watching them silently. They did not move an inch , maybe asking themselves to what extend they would go time now that a foreigner was witnessing it.
At that point , it was clear to me human that these humanlike robots driven by the hate of a race had a mission: Eradicate. They were educated to hurt for the sake of hurting . Nothing to stop them and that is the reason why they were so dangerous.
Everything went fine as they gave us a sign to leave.
In the van , we kept quiet. The pressure had been intense, it had taken all our energy.
When we separated , they felt they had to thank me. I watch them with sadness as they got in their poor homes. Their life is insecure . Tomorrow , we will be gone.
As soon as I entered Jenin, I saw tanks and other scary vehicles. Invisible soldiers started to shoot with real bullets at anyone who was unlucky enough to be in their firing line. Then , they threw tear gas and deadening grenades. It was panic everywhere, ambulance's sirens were screaming, people were yelling. It was terrifying. They then announced the curfew through loudspeakers.
Witnessing this cruelty , their ability to destroy , one can only be revolted and disgusted and ask oneself when will Israelis stop invading the Palestinians' home? When ?
Jenin is covered with a thick cloud of white dust that winds uphold by waves. Everything is sadder and more devastated than last year. One can not breathe in there. The West could have helped it; it would have been enough. But nothing happened. Everything is just the way it was and worse. 4 000 Palestinians have been thrown out in the street after their houses had been destroyed in April 2002.They are still in distress.
I met Tobias , an ISM member based in Jenin 6 months ago. He is depressed: His visa is ending soon and the idea of having to leave is very hard for him to take. He is now bounded to the population and is very concerned by the situation.
Tobias was with Brian Avery , the 24 years old American young man to whom the Israeli soldier disfigured half the face. Brian who underwent surgery after surgery is still in a fine mood; even if he has to stay in Haifa's hospital for one year for more surgery.
To the growing violence towards the internationals and the harsh life here , Tobias gently answers " What is happening here is atrocious. Palestinians bear a very heavy burden. I only help them to bear part of it. My pain is nothing compare to theirs after 38 years of continuous and daily hardship. I would very much like to stay here. I want to go on and be part of it even if sometimes I am submerged with powerlessness". Tobias is nearly 30, he is reserved. Everyone knows in the ISM that we can count on him. He is even an essential link.
About Sweden , his country , his future; he says :"Swedish or Palestinian ; it makes no difference for me. Anywhere we come from , when one really believes in something, one can easily contributes , any way he can , to changing life."
About death that is part of the daily life here , he replies :" I feel quite down these days. I will be forced to leave and it saddens me very much. What we may feel here is nothing compare to what the Palestinians endure. Yes , I do believe that the dead and the injured I saw shocked me. I saw 38 people die before my eyes. I would not be human if I said it did not affect me. But I would like to tell everyone that anyone who comes here can help change the situation. I admire the volunteers who , after having come here , go to tell the rest of the world of what they have witnessed."
About the generosity of the Palestinians , Tobias says with emotion : " In Jenin , people are poor. They collected school books to send to the Iraqi children . They already suffered a lot and when they saw the Iraqis under the US shelling , it affected them a lot.
At that moment of the conversation , Tobias raised from his chair as he heard tanks. As usual , he peeks through the window to see where they came from this time. We then heard helicopters and planes flying over Jenin. And we looked at the infra red balls of light hanging in the sky ,lighting up the night so much so that it felt like it was daytime.
We felt great sadness for the Palestinians that those machines were targeting and hunting down.
By Silvia Cattori, April 2003
Transl. from French by V. Itani
I love this city built in a basin. I love it the way one can love whatever men's cruelty may have torn down.
From the heights, we can overlook it resting indolently, bestowing itself to our eyes: set out in a landscape like a precious jewel in its box. Nablus could be an idyllic place to live in.
One can not stop gazing at it. One can not stop asking oneself, why Israel brutalises it this way.
Its army illegally occupies Nabluses' highest parts, it can then control the whole area and even further.
It gives you the shiver : we do not see them and we know they are here ,watching us. How many of them are there? No one knows.
There are hundreds of Israeli military bases in Palestine stuffed with soldiers who only wish to express their hatred with weapons and they are always close to the colonies which keep growing in number. Their canons are now targeting Nabluse, even when it sleeps , ready to hit it , rape it , make it bleed.
"What can we do!" .It's awful. Natives are here, trapped, voiceless, hanging on to the idea that justice will be done one day.
The occupying army's only purpose is to spread death.
Walking in the street, opening up one's shop in the morning means defying the soldiers. To live, to breathe means resisting. Nablus resists in silence ; a heavy silence.
We look at each other, we watch each other, we never know who is trust worthy, who is not everyone is suspicious of everyone else. Another uncertainty that adds up to many other.
Israelis have a hold of people by all sorts of means ; corrupting them , perverting them.
There are young men here, so handsome ,who hold on to their dignity by selling all kind of things in the streets. They stand in hell, threatened to be shot at any moment in time. Only because they are young.
But they are determined to face up to the Israelis.
There are the ones called 'the fighters'; they look like the others, they have studied in universities and there is no way they can get a decent job .Full of dexterity , they are exactly like 'our' youngsters back home.
They are tall , very tall. They are handsome, very handsome. Women too are so beautiful.
They wear jeans, their hair is gelled, cut short. They support the Hamas, Jihad, FPLP, etc…Parties that refuse any compromise with the occupant, any negotiation before it gets back behind the 1967's borders.
And their dream of freedom, leads them to be on the very long 'wanted' list of Israel's criminals. And now, they can track them like livestock.
From one place to another, we feel that we are repeating ourselves by telling the same stories. But the stories tragically repeat themselves from villages to towns.
The hundreds of houses that were smashed open and looted in 2002 remain in the same state. Those which are still standing seem empty; nobody peeking at the window, no one on the balconies. Windows are covered up with wooden boards; we can not see through. People barricade themselves any way they can to avoid the Israelis' gun shots.
As soon as the sun sets, streets get empty. We do not even hear the sound of a voice, not a child's cry, although houses are large in number and numerous members of one family live inside. The lack of noise, of life is striking. What becomes of all the youngsters at night, trapped down in their home? Weary in this death camp. Young people from whom childhood has been stolen, whose youth is today being slaughtered.
It's impossible to sleep one whole night straight. Night time starts with the infernal sound of tanks, jeeps and every other vehicle packed with soldiers. They invade pathways; patrol ; shoot at houses; ransack.
I spent my first night in anguish : trying to guess where the engines , the shooting came from .I was bewildered not to hear the sound of even one voice. It's weird: fear mutes people; but not the animals. When the infernal machines come near, animals are strangely enough, humanised. When during the day, we can not hear or see chickens, donkeys ,cats , at night they scream and cry : they tell us that something terrible is going to knock on our door. This noisy complicity brings to the scary night, a certain kind of humanity that soldiers, blinded by their will to annihilate cannot perceive.
At 2 a.m., I was taken out of my sleep. I heard planes flying in circles over our heads, tanks driven driving around houses. I was so near to them but not scared.
We must stay, live with them this terrible experience ,we have to know of this persecution Israelis inflict on them , we have to yell until the media tell the truth , until governments denounce to protect them, and force Israel to leave.
It's all very clear ; all these murders are carried out in order to disorganise the resistance , to paralyse it ,to kill it.
The Israeli military strategy is killing the only wealth the Palestinians have :their children. A key strategy founded on shocking, asphyxiating , eradicating.
But how can the Palestinian fight back ? Mothers are terrorised that someone comes and takes their children away, fathers are scared for the life of every member of the family, young already traumatised are afraid of being shot at.
Hitting them , killing them , mutilating them , breaking their bones , demoralising them stealing the few shekels left, jailing them :all this is routine for the Israeli soldier: he grew up hating the Arabs. It's as if they were enjoying humiliating and killing the Arabs. So , the soldier is surprised when an embarrassing ISM witness tells him that he is violating international laws. He just did his job , followed orders. A few weeks ago , they were ordered to shoot in the head of the international pacifists , not above .In this extreme situation ,it is not an easy task to try and help the Palestinians. We need to thousands more; the day they will have thrown out the volunteers come here giving out their own money and sometimes their own life, there won't be any evidence of their daily violations based on racism and hatred.
The sun rises in Nablus, the same way that the night has gone: in despair. People get out nicely, get to their work .the mood is peculiar. At 9 am, patatra ! We hear canons. We will learn later on that the army came back to the heart of the historical town, already half destroyed: people were killed, others injured. When we arrive in Balata camp , we learn that a child exploded himself in Israel, and we start trembling for what is going to fall on the population again, soon.
I'm impressed by the patience of Nablus's proud inhabitants. They look as if nothing could touch them any more, they go on with their life, as if it was normal.
There is no hatred towards the Jews or even the Israeli people. There are a few European and American Israelite among the members. Palestinians only hate the soldiers that put them down, that treat them like animals , that brutalise them harshly; that's all.
We did not say it enough ; in no other country man has been treated this way, or children have been killed this way. Why Israel?
Gaza, the land of the sad oranges
By Silvia Cattori
Transl. from French by V. Itani
To those who went martyred for the land of the sad oranges…
And those who have not been martyred yet…
(Occupied Palestine) Mothers, Fathers, brothers, sisters, friends. To you all who can still find in yourself some kind of indignation; where are you?
The damned of Palestine are searching for some sense of humanity and they put their hopes in you.
In you, the international volunteers members of our movement, find their strength to go on when the faces, all covered with blood , of Rachel , Brian and Thomas break our hearts.
With your support , we would so much like to break the silence of the media and expose the misery , the terror that Israel inflict on the Palestinians..
We count on your genuine help for people as generous and politically aware as Rachel, Brian and Thomas, to join the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).
I will never let anyone say that these people; images of great beauty, who gave so much of themselves in Palestine, died because of their lack of consciousness.
These ambassadors of Peace only died because the State of Israel, that refuses any kind of dialogue toward peace, do not like them.
It is true : the ISM members are always there when the Palestinians are particularly threatened. Consequently, they are the first and very disturbing witnesses of the Israeli army's deeds. They dare say out loud what no journalist has the courage or the will to say: The truth about Human Rights violations occurring in Occupied Palestine.
Israel succeeded until now, in hiding to the rest of the world the horrors its occupying army, only driven by its desire to expand, inflicts on the Palestinians daily. The massacres can go on as long as they are kept secret.. That is the reason why, even if the context is one of the most frightening, we can not abandon the Palestinians. Our duty is to stand by the victims and unveil the oppression they live under.
As long as Israel violates the UN charter demanding that each side finds peaceful means to reach an agreement; we should still have the right to help the Palestinians.
What is Switzerland, my country, doing to stop Israel murderous madness? What is Europe doing to prevent this racist state from persecuting the Palestinians with a massive arsenal?
If this so called international community did fulfil its duty to protect the Palestinian population from Israel; the international volunteers would certainly not be today , paying off with their life.
Thomas, Brian, Rachel are examples of righteousness and virtue that we have to go on following and be inspired by. Among others , Tobias, Swedish , in his 30's , based in Jenin 5 months ago; Tom , British,18, based in Raffah 6 months ago; are too , great examples for us all.
The Palestinians in agony, still find the strength to look at the situation in Iraq with compassion and say "Here is now better than in Bagdad."
We feel so tiny in front of the huge disaster. We do not have enough to give candies to the children whose distress-break our heart.
We are so powerless in front of the world's lack of courage and the media's lies!
Nevertheless, in this place outstanding hell, our presence give them the strength to hope that all is not lost. Khaled, an energetic and active man confided in me this morning:" In Bagdad , we lost our last chance to be part of the human society."
All this, is not right, and Israel does not want us to witness it. So its heavy artillery targets our international volunteers; That way , they will not tell about the violations.
My mind is bawling with distressing stories. I am overwhelmed. They do not let me sleep. I wanted to free myself by writing them down to you. I tried. I did not know which end to take to begin with the right word. Which word can describe what is indescribable?
I did not tell you yet about my pain in Hebron when teenagers came to me in a hurry to tell me about their sad experiences, as if my knowing was an urgent matter. I did not talk to you about the sadness I felt when , stuck with Palestinians from Gaza to Raffah ,the bus zigzagged between the craters the Israeli bombs left on the road we were using. I did not write about what the Palestinians feel when they are forced to stand, threatened by the Israeli soldiers in their miradors to be shot down at any moment.
I promised myself I would tell what , along the roads of Palestine ,afflicted me; but today, I can not bring myself to say a word about it. I feel crushed. I understand why the Palestinians are discouraged and I now understand their silence.
Nevertheless, I would so much like that these untold stories, talking about terribly oppressed men and women , be heard by your souls with fairness: to be taken further…
Rafah the cursed
By Silvia Cattori, April 2003
Transl. from French by V. Itani
(Occupied Palestine.) The tens of thousands of soldiers sent by the Israeli army to Palestine are not at all the angel like beings that the media strive to picture us. But they are not nazis either.
The reality is that the process of Apartheid they sat up and that consists in asphyxiating the whole population, is far more sophisticated and far more atrocious than what has been described to us until now.
Nothing looks like life in this no man's land. Situated on the border of Yibna, a refugee camp where Egypt is at sight; like a mirage. The only left are women , children and elderly who try to hang on to their walls. Half of the houses are already deserted . those who stayed will die here: "this is our life". Israeli fired mercilessly at close range on the houses for their inhabitants to leave for good. That way, they were able to grasp every month , a little bit more of the land.
Egypt , that one can gaze upon from the minaret - the only thing still standing erect- is over there, but only brings despondency. Between that country and the dilapidated houses that unluckily , were on the front line ; there is a huge desert like zone and it is strictly controlled by Israel. To feed its greed, the invader decided that it would become a 'restricted military zone". The bandits pulled down everything, metamorphosed it all. There is not a living soul around any longer. The minaret is the only thing that one can hang on to, looking at it makes us realise that there is still some kind of human life around..
The old Abu Ahmad, who has been deprived of all his lands in this ugly device, gently talks to you about the old times ; before 1948.Listening to him , you start dreaming about all the houses growing back out all around.
Rafah used to be the natural frontier between Egypt and Palestine. Israeli settled in, confiscated everything and threw the people out of their home. Since then, they brutally occupy the wide empty land situated near this very silent neighbour that is Egypt.
The land, harassed by the anxiety of the unknown, wounded by Israel's guns, looks like the end of the word. It is today the most dreadful place in Palestine. At any time, vehicles raising the Israeli flag can burst in.
It was not long before we saw a tank driving at an amazing speed along the border of the restricted area. Then a second one, and a third one .It was an awful feeling. We were not in Rafah by chance, but because the inhabitants of these out of state houses had asked us to come.. their houses were about to be pulverised like the others bordering the zone : taken one after the other , in turn. There is no trace of those houses .Abu Ahmad whose house had , at the time , become the Israeli main target , asked us to stand by the lamp post a tank had knocked down , while the men were raising it back up.
The presence of a TV crew who came to film the place where Rachel and Thomas had been savagely crushed down , helped us overcome the anxiety we were in : after having witnessed Thomas' fall under the Israeli merciless shots the day before , his friends were miserable. When I could see the 3 tanks crossing the land towards us, I asked T. if he thought they had seen us and if they were going to spit out on us their shells, he reply positively. There was no way we could move anymore. We were stuck. Running would have been suspicious on the desert like plain. Standing or laying down; you are a dead man anyway. I understood T. was worried when he raised his hands. The tanks were 400 meters away. The day before he had seen Thomas blood coming out of his blond head. He was still under shock . he had lost all trust in his status as an international and suspected the Israeli soldiers to have deliberately tried to kill 3 of his comrades in the last few weeks. T. did not want to be there that day , but the member s of the group had committed themselves to Abu Ahmad. Francesco, a young Italian man , described to us what he had witnessed in a week ; broken hearted , he looked like a sad clown.
We heard shots, we heard screams, we saw children running away. I grabbed the youngest , pushed the eldest forward. When I saw a white taxi with so many bullet holes that it looked like cheese, I literally jumped in it and managed to put all the kids inside. then, I thought to myself that if the world had seen all these hopeless children with those frightened eyes , It would have done anything to give them back their rights.
After having given back the children to their parents, I went to an internet shop. I just wanted to tell the people out there what my broken heart was feeling, why it was yelling in pain. I knew my words would get lost in the huge disaster that is indifference.
Yibna is a refugee camp on the edge of Rafah; it looks like many others in Palestine. It has been there for 55 years and was not set to last. Houses in bricks replaced the provisional tents.
In the last past years , life conditions , already disastrous , worsened to unbearable. The Israeli invaders did everything in their power to keep the Palestinians enchained. Only few of the men still have a job. When you approach them, they answer bitterly: "They want us to live like animals". They own nothing. They rot in hell.
The fertile lands nearby were monopolised by the Israeli settlers. The sea nearby along the Sheekh Ejlin coast to Der Elballa is for the Israeli settlers only.
I do not know what to say really about Rafah. Only that it is a place very difficult to describe. To me , it appeared like a prison like, full of children, rubbish bin . I remember very well the first time I stepped out of the taxi, I thought I was going to faint. I remember the small window of a bank , a petrol station , and the passers by. But the outlines of anything I would look at would strangely stand out against a dark background. The deeper I would go in Yibna, the worse was my fear of the invisible soldiers of Israel , standing there , at a few hundreds meters away.
Rafah stands on a hill and is quite fragile. ,in the way that children are not kids , homes are not houses ,roadways are not streets and the standing bodies lining up in front of the shops are not men. It's a place that tears your heart apart .A frightening sight. One can never forget that behind this weird big ditch that lifts up clouds of dust , behind the dark grey walls of what seems to be haunted houses ; there are guns ready to fire at anything left that can still breathe. Fear paralyses you even more when children , turning around you as if you were some kind of attraction , pull your sleeve down ,amazed that you would want to come here. They repeat with anger "Thomas, Rachel…Israeli !"showing you with a movement of the hand that Israel had cut their head off.
You feel like a tiny little thing ; so much so that when the dark mass of a tank looms on the horizon, you are stirred by different feelings : nearly delighted to actually see what was still uncertain because unseen. It is then that you start dreaming , hoping that maybe some hearts beat inside these mastodons driving at speed towards you. Hoping as well that the pilot of the hunter flying low with his bombs under its wings ,will have pity on you.
But even if you hang on to your illusion, fear runs back to you. It is harassing to switch from one emotion to another. We know that these feelings haunt the nights and the days of the Palestinians , tearing their heart apart. Palestinians who are condemned to live in this huge jail that is called Gaza. In the West Bank , the other Palestine cruelly separated from its little sister on the seashore; Israeli soldiers are as dreadful and destroying as here. Nevertheless , at check points , one can from time to time , see their face and talk to them. Keeping in touch with reality. It gives you a chance to appeal to the human being sleeping inside them: Who knows! Dreaming is not yet forbidden.
Rafah! Oh Rafah! Even if being there was painful , I don't regret a thing. I can now understand better those wonderful children of the ISM who loved it so and who died for its children. I went back to Rafah many times, in the amazing area of Yibna; and I felt very much with its dignified inhabitants , unfairly stricken by death, who resist by staying …until death.
Gaza is the despaired mother of Rafah's eviscerated children. It is not a good place to live in; once again because of the Israeli settlers and their army guilty of the worst violations. The Palestinians are stuck between a settlement , a check point , a military base , do not know where to turn to. Then , when their mind blows out , when men throw themselves under a tank ; Israel yells that it is threatened by terrorists. It is a very good opportunity for them to send to Gaza even more soldiers and shoot even more bullets with their machine guns and kill even more civilians. I saw bullets, 500 mm to 800 mm long making a hole as big as a prune when it enters the body and opening a wound as wide as a plate when it comes out of it.
Heavily armed, the Israeli soldiers , for other reasons , are too, very scared of the Gaza strip's streets. That is why they do not come out of their armoured vehicles. We do not even see them through their observation tower's horizontal windows. These impressive towers made only to frighten the population, target the children who have managed to be out of their parents' care. The soldiers do not watch you from the towers 'glass: They watch you from a computer screen , target you with precision, and just need to press a key…In your imagination , it makes them become even more frightening: they have no other face than this concrete made tower with its khaki top .How hard it is to know that they keep still up there, dominating , cold , retracted behind hangars , armoured machines , towers: like in Guch Katif , where they yell in loudspeakers , order you to stop, step back , step forward , or forbid you to go through for hours; only to humiliate you more. If your taxi van is unlucky enough to breakdown wh en they ask you to drive forward: you are already half dead. Everyone stops breathing , gets out fast , raises his hands in panic and starts pushing the van. It is in this tension that the inhabitants of Gaza live in every single day. They never know what horror the next minute will bring….
Shouldn't we be concerned about the Palestinians, whom Israel - that hides the worst horrors it is inflicting from the rest of the world- is desperately trying to isolate ?
When you are discouraged , you are full of anger for the leaders of this injustice. How can we possibly understand the Israeli, victims yesterday, brutalising a whole population today?
The Palestinians who welcomed us feel no hatred. They have nothing against the Israeli population, they only hate the ones that oppress them.. When an ISM member tells them that he/she is a Jew - 15% to 20% of the ISM activists in Palestine- , they are welcomed with even more emotion. They hope for a little while that the solidarity the outsiders bring with them, will take them away from the terror. Israel locked up the Palestinians and the Arabs in a cheap cliché. The West, that does not know a thing about their culture , never considered them as human.
Their Arab brothers are not allowed to enter Palestine and help the Palestinians because Israel keeps tight the key of this massive jail and forbid them to enter the country.
On April the 14th, 2003 ; a herd of journalists got to Rafah to immortalise the arrival of Thomas Hundall 's parents. they recorded them at length , interrogated his friends at will. His parents who were in despair, came from London to grieve on the spot where their son had lost his life. They had understood that the Israeli soldier who pointed his gun at him , shot him in cold blood. They faced the cameras, express their anger with firmness and emotion.
The world did not hear or see a thing about it.
No TV channel showed what people all over the world could have easily understood :that Israel had ,for a long time , been over all the limits…
By Silvia Cattori, 25 January 2003
If telling the truth
Means being prosecuted,
Then we are ready.
Remarks made by the CRIF president on 25 January 2003 on a France Culture radio programme deeply revolted me. This man accused "leftist party militants" - in fact International Civilian Society members who feel it is their moral duty to protect the Palestinian people threatened in its integrity by the Israeli occupation forces - of "incarnating the new age of anti-Semitism". And he went on to threaten us with legal prosecution.
His allegations mean that helping the victims of Israeli oppression is an offence, which is preposterous. What this self-appointed bean counter of allegedly illicit acts fails to acknowledge is that each demonstration against Israel as a racist state is the result of blatant aggression. Understandably, acts of anger are on the increase whenever an overwhelming expansionist military power intensifies its violence in the occupied territories. The Palestinians are merely replying to violent assaults with the pathetic means at their disposal.
Living in Switzerland, I do not know this person; but his remarks, which are obviously meant to disqualify the testimony of those who denounce the crimes of the Israeli army, are loathsome. By trying to discredit through repeated accusations of anti-Semitism anyone who does not consider the Palestinians as criminals, this man merely succeeds in discrediting himself.
The CRIF president is not afraid of using words that kill. But what he is really afraid of is the truth - truth that may sully Israel. Intellectual intimidation has for far too long been the recourse of those who seek to preserve the status quo to their benefit, those who, in Israel, take advantage of the weapons they carry - I mean the Jewish settlers and military forces that dispossess the Palestinians of their land. All means are good for the Israeli to go on lording over the occupied territories.
The Jewish community should not be considered to be any different from any other community. Neither should Israel be considered to be any different from any other state. It can be criticized like any society, like any state can be. Why would one want to conceal the truth?
Why besmirch honest people who have been deeply moved by what they have seen?
What they have seen is that once the Israeli wear uniforms, they are capable of the worst atrocities. I too have shared the powerlessness, guilt and shock witnesses feel once they are home. What they have witnessed is a burden they must bear and cope with, a burden only compounded by the well-orchestrated lies propagated by unconditional defenders of a policy of massive repression against the Palestinians.
Anti-Semitism is but a scarecrow set up in order to muzzle us.
Anti-Semitic, have the courage to bear witness to what they have seen so that the rest of the world can no longer claim ignorance? Expressing one's anger against the arrogance of a people intent on destroying another has absolutely nothing to do with anti-Semitism. No one can ignore any longer where the "new anti-Semites" are: they are in Israel. And it is the Palestinians that, every day, are their victims.
The new anti-Semites are not thousands, but hundreds of thousands. They belong to ultra orthodox parties, extremist religious parties. They flaunt their superiority over all that is not Jewish. They cultivate the hate of the Arab and take advantage of the very sophisticated logic of apartheid and other barbarian colonial tenets.
It is something that is hard to explain: one has to see it to believe it.
A South African met in Hebron - a town in agony which the most extremist armed Jewish settlers are strangling day after day - said that compared with the Israeli apartheid, apartheid in South Africa was a lark.
What is unique to the Israelis is that they can be openly racists and even worse, they can kill children, steal land, oppress a whole population: they will not be prosecuted for it. No one will ever think of prosecuting them; they are untouchable. Especially not the lawyers mandated by the World Jewish Congress. Since 1995, the WJC and some lawyers from New York City have been going after countries like Switzerland, a favourite target of theirs: yesterday to make the country pay ludicrous amounts for valuables kept in Swiss bank coffers, today to make it pay for commercial ties with South Africa. Switzerland gave more than a billion dollars to these frightening people for crimes against humanity that we never committed - whereas the crimes that Israel commits daily against the Palestinians are totally ignored and stay unpunished.
Switzerland gave in to guilt and fear: the fear of facing those cunning men.
Whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, a person has the right to dignity, respect and recognition. An Israeli is worth a Palestinian. And vice versa. I do not understand why the Jews who are asking for recognition of the victims of Nazism can refuse this same recognition to Palestinians victims.
Those who are trying to protect the Palestinians are not against the Israelis. Nevertheless, it is true that you cannot force yourself to like a country, a government, even a person that falsifies history and hates and victimises the weak, or those venomous flowers that, like M. Finkielkraut, hide the truth under cloaks of sophistry in order to cover up for criminals.
If loving the Palestinians, if helping the victims of brutal oppression means being prosecuted, then yes, we are ready.
Unfortunately, in Israel you can meet a lot of arrogant people newly arrived from Russia, Argentina or France and who are full of hatred, especially for the Arabs.
But who do you meet in Palestine? A population which is immediately welcoming, ready to love you if they feel accepted, a population which never expresses hatred for the Israelis. The Palestinians say it themselves: they are not fighting the Jews, but the military occupation that is choking them. Those Israelis that meet Palestinians for anything other than bullying and harassing, that meet them as friends, know it very well: they are welcomed with open arms.
It is humiliation that is behind the Palestinians' fight. Recognition is a need for any society and they are fighting back for it, for their dignity. It is our duty, as human beings, to help them. Thus, the Warsaw ghetto is still around; today its name is Naplouse, Jenin, Qalquilia, Tulkarem, Hebron. The fact that the Jews were the victims of Nazism does not allow them to take revenge on the Palestinians who had nothing to do with their plight.
So much suffering is being inflicted! Suffering that is recorded daily and that daily reaches us.
Here is for instance what Quasem, a Palestinian teacher has to say: "The six or seven young men, aged from 15 to 25, were made to kneel down on the side of the road, their hands were tied behind their backs and they were blindfolded; they were like being readied to be executed. I can tell you, dear brother, that these young men were not treated like men. I have even never heard of anyone treating an animal that way. The soldiers made them stand up one after the other to slap them, to kick them, so violently, so hatefully. One of the soldiers, who was 19 or 20, went to one of the Palestinians on his knees and stood so that his pelvis was level with his face; then he undid his zipper, pretending he was pissing on him while the whole patrol were laughing their heads off. You know, in 35 years, I do not remember having ever felt the same feeling of rage, of humiliation, of anger and most of all of powerlessness. And I was wondering what those young men were feeling at that moment. … I am furious, I admit it. Now you know why. But be reassured: I am far from being miserable. Our children will learn to always love life. They understand very well that we are under siege and will learn to defend themselves the best way they can.… "
I do not understand why all those for whom it is important to denounce the appalling scenes they witnessed in Palestine should be made to feel guilty by those who have blood on their hands. Israeli soldiers ransack, deport, torture. They execute in cold blood a Palestinian every three hours and what they fancy best is killing young boys.
Tomorrow, you will not be able to tell us that you knew nothing about it.