Damian Clarke’s Update From Palestine (10)
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.
Two nights ago I was awoken at about midnight when my mates mobile phone rang. The Israeli Occupation Forces were back in Marda. They had been using sound bombs again at nights, and a bulldozer was there now knocking over olive trees.
I later found out that they had also gone into one of the houses and asked to speak with a boy who had been throwing stones. They didn't care which boy they took so the eldest son volunteered to go with them. He was held for three and a half hours before being let go. The soldiers had also been to the local school during the day and asked to speak with the boys who had been throwing stones. The headmaster turned them away.
Yesterday some of us left Budrus to go to Marda to see what was going on. It was good to see some familiar faces. I left Marda over a week ago and didn't get a chance to say goodbye to anyone. Everyone seemed to remember my name. I could only remember a handful of theirs.
We had lunch with our host before heading out to have a look at the damage done by the Occupation Forces. At about 6.30pm a group of us walked out toward the highway. The newly bulldozed trees are on the other side of the highway, but before we could cross the road a jeep pulled up. Three Israeli soldiers jumped out fully decked out with M16s and bad attitudes. One of the soldiers asked me why I was there. I said I was visiting friends (which is true). He then said "maybe you are here to throw stones", to which I replied "maybe I'm not". He said that he was going to call the police and we would be arrested. He got his phone out and was talking to someone when another person in the jeep called the three soldiers back to the vehicle. They ran back to the jeep and sped off. The whole situation was absurd. It was my impression that an accusation on his part was as good as an admission of guilt on mine. I don't envy the boys of the village who have to deal with him and his ilk every day.
Israeli Occupation Forces aren't supposed to arrest people. They don't usually arrest internationals, though I do know one person who was. Israeli soldiers routinely arrest Palestinians.
Anyway, we crossed the highway and sure enough there were some olive trees lying on the ground with their trunks broken. This is pure vandalism. These trees are ancient and are depended on by the villagers. Sometimes the bulldozers take the trees away and replant them on Israeli held territory, but this time they had just broken them and left them to become a fire risk.
There were no sound bombs last night.
I hope all is well in Aotearoa.