Soldiers in Nablus Threaten to Kill ISM Activists
"This is our hobby." Soldiers Around Nablus Threaten to Murder ISM Activists.
As I write this three ISM activists from the US, France and Denmark are standing in the pouring rain at a checkpoint to the east of Nablus with twenty-seven Palestinian villagers and their four Israeli persecutors.
The Palestinians are from the villages of Azmut, Salem and Deir Hatib, villages that have been totally cut off from the surrounding world by a sewerage filled moat (the sewerage lines were broken when the army excavated the moat) and 3-4 metre high road block.
Those wishing to travel to Nablus for food, other provisions or to go to school have the option of either wading through the moat and then through the fields to avoid the Army or climbing over the road block to brave the checkpoint on the other side.
Its 5.45 pm now and night has fallen. Some of the villages have been standing in the rain for more than 3 hours. All of them are covered in mud from crossing the road block and because tank tracks have destroyed the road's surface turning it into a sea of mud. One man is shivering from the cold but the soldiers point their rifles at anyone who goes to help him.
There are four soldiers at checkpoint. Two are guarding the checkpoint, forcing the Palestinians to stand with their backs to their Armoured Personnel Carrier while they fire shots behind them. The others are firing live ammunition at the people passing through the fields and rounding them up to come back to the checkpoint.
All of the Palestinians at the checkpoint are men between the ages of 18 and 55. All have had their identity cards taken by the soldiers. About 2 hours ago the soldiers tried to detain the women and children returning from school but the ISM activists defied the soldiers and rushed through with them, helping them as they slipped and scrambled over the roadblock.
Since then the soldiers have become more aggressive towards the activists, shoving them around and shouting at them to leave the area. When they refused one soldier held his rifle to the temple of Lasse, the Danish activist, and threatened to kill him. Suzan (from the US) restrained him by taking hold of the rifle barrel and pointing it away.
When she did this the soldier pointed the rifle at her chest.
"You don't know me. I'm crazy! I'm crazy! You don't know what I'm capable of. Don't fuck with me!" he said.
"Go ahead," Suzan coolly replied, facing him down so that he lowered the rifle and turned his attention back to the Palestinians.
Israeli soldiers in throughout Occupied Palestine routinely beat and even murder Palestinians at checkpoints. In the Nablus area they have even been known to force them to pick a piece of paper from a bag. The papers come in three colours: red for stop, green for go, yellow for a beating. It is probable that by refusing to leave the checkpoint the 3 ISM activists are depriving these soldiers of their sport.
The soldiers seemed to have calmed down for the time being and trying to wait the activists out.
"This is our hobby," one soldier told Suzan. "We compete with eachother to see how long we can keep them here."
"For every word you say a Palestinian will have to wait an extra hour," another told Lasse.
The ISM presence in Nablus represents the only international observers in the area and the only protection the people such as these villagers have. Regardless of their role, they receive no external support and only the most grudging support from their governments.
I've just gotten off the phone with a diplomat about the Danish Consulate. Though she reluctantly agreed to contact the Israeli Army, she told me that the government has a travel advisory advising against going to the West Bank and requested that I advise the activists to leave the area.