Damian Clarke’s Update From Palestine (11)
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.
Yesterday a few ISM people had lunch with a man in Salfeet. Before going to lunch we had met with him in his newly renovated office. This was the fifth time he had done it up. It needed renovating because the Occupation Forces had trashed it and burned the contents for the fourth time recently.
His son of about 9 years had a scar on the top of his head where an Israeli army bullet had grazed him. The father of the boy feels that the Occupation Forces don't shoot above childrens heads as a warning against stone throwing, but rather that they shoot one of the children as a warning to the others. His son is lucky to be alive. Over half of the people killed by the Israeli Occupation Forces since the start of the second intifada have been children under eighteen years old.
The man who hosted us for lunch is a politician in Salfeet. He was proud to show us a video he had from a couple of years ago when a bus load of Israeli human rights activists from an organisation called "Tayoush" had visited the local school and the local road block. He had made a rather long speech at the event which was also on the video- if only I could understand Arabic.
Some of my ISM friends visited the headmaster of a school in Hares which is another village near Marda. The school had also been visited earlier that day by the Occupation Forces. At about 11.30am they smashed down the gate of the school with a jeep and sat there until some boys started throwing stones at it. They drove away and returned about twenty minutes later and threw sound bombs and tear gas at the kids. One live round was fired, nobody was hit by it. The headmaster had to let the children have the rest of the day off because they were too frightened to continue with their lessons.
Yesterday I left Marda. I don't think I'll be able to go back there. I had Arabic coffee with one family there. I have written about the son who I called "Walid" (not his real name) in a previous update. His sister is studying at English literature at Nablus University. She quized me about the relationship between Robinson Crusoe and the Industrial Revolution. I don't think I was as useful to her as she had hoped, despite having English as my first language. The previous night Walid and some other boys had come to the house we were staying at. We had sat outside and Walid sang some beautiful Arabic songs for us, an elder member of ISM danced and another lad cracked us all up with his impression of a posh english accent. It was a good night. It is very sad to leave the good people of Marda.