Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


An Historic Day in Nablus, Palestine


An Historic Day in Nablus, Palestine – Israeli Offensive Forces Remain Hidden*

By Genevieve Cora Fraser

NABLUS – Three days before the general election in Palestine - the first since January 1996 when Yassir Arafat was elected president of the Palestinian National Authority - Abbu Mazen a.k.a. Abbas was to visit Nablus . He had waited until the end of the campaign possibly because his nearest rival, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi is well loved in this, his mother’s native city. But on this day, January 6, 2005 , the Israeli soldiers stationed at the Howarra checkpoint were unusually polite as people passed through without incident or excessive waiting as international television cameras recorded the historic moment.

Nablus is both a valley and mountain community, with a 3,000-year Old City and modern market places and shops located in the valley, and terraced homes and apartment buildings constructed along the twin North and South Mountains . Some believe that the North Mountain is where Moses spoke to God and a delegation of Christians has set up residency on the top of the mountain which is where they believe Christ will appear during the 2nd Coming. This is the home of the Good Samaritan of the Bible, a city noted for its hospitality that nearly three years ago endured a 40-day siege by the Israeli Offensive Forces during the Re-Occupation.

There are two major checkpoints guarding this home of nearly a quarter of a million residents, Howarra on the east and Beit eba on the west. The western most region of the city is where the wealthiest members of the community have chosen to build, the older sections and decades old refugee camps is where Israel typically chooses to stage their most brutal assaults. With the exception of this historic day, Israeli Offensive Forces, as the residents call them, prowl the streets looking for militants or the opportunity to raise hell just for the fun of it. Their tools are tanks, assault helicopters, fighter jets and snipers stationed anywhere - in shops and homes, within terraced gardens and balconies – everywhere, including at outpost vantage points atop the ancient mountains that historically served to guard the life within the city.

Traveling along the streets uniformed Nablus police are stationed in clusters every few hundred feet, posters of Abbas two and three stories high greet the view. Palestinian Authority soldiers also dot the landscape. It is a very special day. Typically, city or national police daring to be seen in uniform are shot to death by the IOF. But despite their absence from view, the Israeli presence is still felt. Surveillance is omnipresent in this city and so too is the occasional collaborator, blackmailed into betraying the sacred trust of the people. Driving about, bullet pocked marked shops and residences are easily spotted, along with ruins of recent attacks. The damage inflicted by F16 fighter jet rocket attacks on Arafat’s residence in Nablus as well as the Nablus government authority building are a reminder to residents of Israel’s overwhelming force that governs their lives. Today Rafedia Street is one of the few remaining locations where Nablus citizens dare to relax and enjoy a stroll while shopping and visiting cafes and restaurants. But the nights belong to Israel where sniper fire and the rumble and shelling from tanks and whirl of helicopter blades could wake the dead and provide little rest or hope for the living.

But on this day attention is focused on Abbas who arrives at Al-Najah National University escorted by official cars, ambulances sounding sirens and jeeps as his mud-caked but otherwise spotless black Mercedes enters the school courtyard. Palestinian flags are everywhere strung from building to building along with giant posters that proclaim, “ABBAS – Let’s make Election Day a National Festival Day. Uphold Palestinian Rights. Vote for Abbu Mazen!”

Abbas begins his talk flanked by Munib Masri, the richest man in Nablus who lives in a magnificent mansion on top of the Altor (South) Mountain, the mayor of Nablus , Gasan Shakaa as well as the local Islamic Imam, the highest ranking Christian churchman, and a member of the Jewish Samaritan community. Following the speech he will meet with businessmen for lunch and then visit the Old City and the down-trodden refugee camps of the city.

“Brothers, Sisters,” he begins, “ Nablus is in my heart.” Abbas shouts this four times as the emotion of the audience swells. “All have rights – Muslim Christian. We know how much you suffer. We know that the occupation tries to break you, but we will break it like a rock. Palestine will be free. Jerusalem will be our capital. We don’t want settlements. We don’t want walls. As for the refugees – they will come back. They will return. There will be NO resolution if any man, woman or child remains within Israeli prisons. They say the militants are terrorists, but we will find them jobs and help them to live normal lives in a normal society and no longer will they be forced to escape the wrath of the Israeli Occupation Forces. All of you are the future of Palestine . With the Will of God we will raise the flag of freedom all over Palestine .”

As the crowd filtered out of the courtyard following the speech, well groomed and exquisitely attired businessmen mingled with men and women in jeans and leather jackets. Others wore colorful sweat shirts and many were dressed in traditional Islamic garments. Some wore leather strings around their necks with photos of martyred friends and relatives.

Basam Masri operates building material shops and is a prominent member of the Nablus community and as well as Fateh. “Abbu Mazen is the choice of the Fateh organization,” he commented. “He will keep the Palestinian movement progressing toward our ultimate goals. Everyone thinks he is the best person for the future of Palestine and the most acceptable candidate for the world community. Abbas believes in a fair peace. He will stop the spilling of blood, but without loosing our rights and our homeland.”

Fou`ad Sabbah imports spare parts for automobiles and other vehicles. According to Sabbah, “The economic situation in Nablus is damaged. People have suffered for a long time. We believe we need change and Abbas is the perfect person to improve the situation,” he said. “We need European and world pressure on Israel to change its policy and to return to negotiations with Palestinians and to have Palestinians fight political battles not fight by spilling blood,” he continued. “Palestinian children have the right to live as other children live throughout the world, in peace.”

Huda Laham, a 25 year old pharmacist said, “I missed Abbas’ speech but I will vote for him because I want a change. Her friend Rawand Jamous commented that she will vote for Mustafa Barghouthi. “As an individual he could be described as the direct opposite Abbas. He is fair minded and he is the principle of the Union of Medical Relief.” She stated that Barghouthi has been central to providing direct assistant to the people of Nablus .

Maher Masri, the Economic Minister for the Palestinian Authority explained that he is neutral in terms of the presidential election; however whoever is elected must fill the shoes left by Arafat while creating change that will bring about final status negotiations. “A new course must be established for Palestine ,” he said. “The current economy has been devastated by closures. The economy of the people is dependent on the ability of businesses and individuals to move about freely. The wall and Israeli incursions are devastating our lives. Unless the restrictions are lifted by Israel and the occupation ended, it will be very difficult for the Palestinian economy to recover.”

* I wish to thank Nablus residents Diana Salah and Rula Khaiat for their kind assistance in the preparation of the article.


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news