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Damian Clarke: Update From Palestine 4 photos/text

Damian Clarke's Update From Palestine (includes images) - 4

Damian Clarke is a 31 year old from Miramar in Wellington, NZ and is currently in Palestine under training with the International Solidarity Movement - a group of internationalists campaigning for peace in the Middle East. Damian is writing to Scoop regularly about his experiences.

Kia ora from Palestine

Kids in Marda, Palestine. For more images see below.

Yesterday I met a young man in a village who had just been released from a detention centre. For his sake I won't name him or his village or the detention centre he was held in. For the purposes of this article I'll call him Walid.

Walid was released from a detention centre at 11pm on Tuesday night. He had been held for eight days without charge. His parents had been able to find out where he was being held on his second day of detention through an organisation called Hamoked.

Walid and four others were interrogated for six hour stretches without being able to use the toilet. Walid was accused of having weapons, throwing stones and of belonging to certain organisations. He was given a confession to sign written in Hebrew. When he refused to sign the confession he was given one written in Arabic. He was told that his family would also be detained if he didn't sign the confession. The interrogator told him that he could see from his eyes and face that he was guilty. Walid replied that this should be written on the confession. He was then hit in the face.

During the interrogation they threatened to use teargas on the five lads in the small room. The guards went as far as closing the windows and putting on gas masks, but this time they didn't follow through. Walid asked how long he would be detained for and was told until he died.

He was released late at night with a thirteen year old boy who had also been detained. They were nowhere near their homes and had to stay the night at another village near the camp. Walid brought the 13 year old to his fathers house. The boy was given money to get to his village by Walids dad. He had been fined 7000 shekels (about NZ$2000). He was scared of the army and scared of how his Dad would react when he got home and heard about the fine.

Walids father used to work fourteen hour days for six months at a time in a store in the United States in order to support his family in Palestine. Last time he went to the US was after September 11 and he was turned around at the border because he is Palestinian. He can't afford to send Walid to university as a result.

The prison hunger strike is now into its twelfth day (I think). It is believed among Palestinians that three have already died. I have heard from more than one source that when Palestinians die in prison they sometimes keep the corpse in detention to serve out any unfinished part of a sentence. It is important for Christian and Muslim Palestinian families to bury their dead within a short time of their death. This is collective punishment.

We have gone two nights now without sound bombs going off in Marda. Sound bombs are grenade size devices which are usually hand thrown but may also be fired from a gun. They are usually orange and are made mostly of plastic. If one explodes close enough to you it will cause you to go deaf temporarily or have severe tinitus, bleed from your ears and fragments of plastic may cut your skin. They don't seem to cause any long term serious damage though. Their main purpose seems to be to frighten.

The sound bombing may have stopped because one of the women from IWPS (International Womens Peace Service) contacted the local army command to complain and also contacted "Rabbis' Against the Occupation" who are sometimes able to help. The army is also aware of our presence because we went out onto the road at night and photographed their passing jeep after a sound bomb went off. I'm getting used to sleeping fully dressed.

The bad news is that the Israeli Occupation Forces came into Marda yesterday and detained a young man who was sitting by a tree. A colleague of mine took photographs. One of the Israeli soldiers threatened to smash his camera. A student mentioned in an earlier update (he had his arm broken a year ago when going into University), was pushed up against a wall with arms and legs spread but escaped any further harm.

Some of my ISM colleagues are posted in Nablus where there has been gun fights, 250 men detained and buildings destroyed. It would appear that I've got it relatively easy in Marda.

Ka kite ano

Damian Clarke

Salim Hassan Shawamreh's house- version five- Now a Peace centre (near Jerusalem)

House being rebuilt. I'm in the black sleeveless tshirt. (near Jerusalem)

Aaron- an ICAHD (Israeli Campaign Against Home Demolition) volunteer.

Anas- son of Salim Hassan Shawamreh mentioned above.

Home destroyed by Israel. (near Jerusalem)

Solidarity tent at Sawya.

ISM activist. Sawya.

Road block on road into Salfeet.

Area in Marda where olive trees were bulldozed.

ISMer "Lisa" at Kalandia (near Jerusalem)- apartheid wall in background.

Main street in Marda. Ariel settlement on hill above.

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