Damian Clarke’s Update From Palestine (9 & 8)
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.
Qibia (image courtesy of ISM)
We managed yesterday to meet with an elderly gentleman in Qibia who lived through the massacre in 1953. He was about nine years old at the time. We met him in a house that had been rebuilt because the previous one was blown up during the massacre. There were twenty-four people in the house when it was blown up. Incredibly none of them were killed. Older houses in this part of Palestine are divided into two floors- the top one for humans and the bottom one for animals (goats, sheep etc). The twenty-four survivors had survived because they had taken refuge with the animals on the bottom floor before the house was blown up.
He told us that there had been an Israeli family of five was killed the day before the massacre in the village. The person who killed the family was from another village, but had crossed Qibia land en-route to kill the family. Ariel Sharon's unit entered the village on the 14th of October 1953 and destroyed fifty-six houses and killed over seventy villagers.
Myself and another ISM volunteer were shown around the village. There was a gate with bullet holes in it still from 1953. We came to a spot where there is a hole in the ground covered with a rock. They removed the rock for us and removed some bones from inside. They were the bones of a boy who had been killed in the massacre. There are the bones of twelve victims of the 1953 massacre buried here.
I am based in Budrus still. There hasn't been any work on the wall on the Palestinian side of the green line for a week now so we haven't been up to much. We're just keeping a presence for when they do. I'm discovering that that activism can sometimes be quite inactive, though still purposeful. I'm enjoying the lull. It is in stark contrast to my first day in Budrus. One of the ISM people was shot in the hand with a rubber bullet that day and had a big swollen bruise as a result. That's even healed up now.
Ka kite ano
Damian Clarke’s Update From Palestine (8)
Kia ora Scoop readers
Qibia is town about forty minutes walk away from Budrus where I am staying. Today we walked there to have a look around. Qibia is a town of about 5,000 people. The town has been losing land to Israel for many years now. It is also the site of one of Ariel Sharon's worst atrocities.
On the 14th of October 1953, unit 101 commanded by Ariel Sharon climbed the hill toward Qibia from the east. They were on their way into town to massacre the inhabitants and dynamite their homes. On their way to the village they captured two Qibia men who were keeping watch over the olive groves- blindfolded them and suffocated one of them by stuffing a cloth in his mouth. The blindfold wasn't thick enough so one of the men could see what was happening and decided to run for his life. He was shot in the top of his leg. He managed to reach the town and raise the alarm. When Ariel Sharon's band of murderers reached the village they set about the task of dynamiting homes and killing the inhabitants. Fifty villagers took refuge in one house. A girl was unable to stop screaming so they covered her mouth so that the Occupation Forces wouldn't hear her. She died of suffocation before morning. By the time they had finished they had killed seventy one inhabitants.
The two men were guarding the olive groves because the village had been attacked regularly by the Israeli Occupation Forces since 1948. The Jordanian army left Qibia two days before the Israeli Occupation Forces paid their bloody visit.
Today there are only two people in the village who remember the massacre. One of them was at a wedding celebration today. We met the other one in the street. He wouldn't talk about it with us. He is apparently unable to talk about it still without becoming overwhelmed.
From a hill in Qibia you can see Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv. This airport is built on land that used to belong to Qibia. Qibia also lost land after the 1967 war. There is also an Israeli army base nearby which was built on Qibia land in 1979. This was recently expanded and took even more land. Illegal Israeli settlements have been built on Qibia land on the Palestinian side of the 1967 green line and taken even more land. When the apartheid wall is built even more land will be taken from Qibia. I could see from qibia a scar stretching across the landscape which marks the intended path of the apartheid wall. The land has been prepared already.
Despite Ben Gurion airport being within view of the village it is slightly easier for villagers to travel to Jordan to catch a flight because of checkpoints, roadblocks and harassment at Ben Gurion airport.
Qibia is now suffering from water shortages. The Israeli settlements draw water from Qibias' spring and don't leave enough for the people of Qibia. People have to rely more and more on untreated water. Water borne diseases are now a problem in Qibia. Not much has been happening in Budrus- apart from weddings. School started this week. Building of the wall is unlikely to begin tomorrow since it is Shabat.