Terror in Nablus / Discussion with local Imams
Terror in Nablus / Discussion with local Imams / Olive Harvest
1) Terror in Nablus 2) Visiting the injured 3) Exchanging ideas with local Imams 4) Your presence is needed for the olive harvest in Palestine
1) Terror In Nablus Kate G. August 26, 2003 Nablus
I just had the hardest day of my life. Let me start off by telling you that yesterday i had to get into Nablus while it was under curfew. I was with three Palestinians. I had a hard time getting here and, once in Nablus, I had to walk up to a tank and another armored vehicle and negotiate with them to let us through and they didn't let the one male go past so he walked around. We eventually got around.
Last night they invaded a hospital and shot it up, injuring two and killing one. Today, I went to the UPMRC a medical agency that has ambulences to help. Internationals and local UPMRC workers split into groups. I was in one with three Palestinians and one other international. We were delivering food to the Old City because we are the only ones who can get to the people. We walked by many tanks and jeeps and various armed vehicles.
We almost got to where we were going when a jeep stopped us and took into custody myself and the other international. We were arrested. Then we were forced to sit with them at their makeshift base in the Old City with their two tanks (there are tons more spread throughout the city) and many jeeps and armed vehicles.
I cannot describe the horror. The soldiers were all around me and then there were clashes, rocks and glass were being thrown, sound bombs, tear gas, tank firing, machine guns, automatic weapons -- the whole nine yards were being shot and the soldiers were all next to me. They were shooting at the Palestinians. They shot someone in the head. Every time a child would look at the window they would point their guns and scream at them and cock their triggers.
For five hours, I was there next to the firing guns and tanks. I tried distracting them by talking to them which worked quite a bit so that they wouldn't notice Palestinians breaking curfew.
I prayed, I prayed, and I prayed that God would warm their hearts so that they would stop this madness. I was so scared. They were all around me shooting. I knew that I was supposed to experience this, because now I have seen the war from the soldier's point of view. Now I know what they do, say, somewhat feel, and how they act. I have so many little details I would like to tell you, but i cannot because I am in shock right now.
I made it back up to my apartment and now I am a few buildings down with the family who partially consists of the three Palestinians I came here with from Kalandia checkpoint near Ramallah and Jerusalem. They are taking good care of me. I love them dearly. I came in here sobbing. I am still shocked.
They kept telling me this is their daily life. It's true. I am just not used to it. I wish I could describe for you in words what it was like today but there is nothing I can tell you to express the pain I feel and what it was like being in the middle of the soldiers shooting and bombing my friends. I wish I could make you see, but then again, I wouldn't wish today on anyone. I am glad the soldiers released me.
Please don't be worried for me. I am safe and in the hands of thousands of loving people all which whom would share with me everything they had. In the end I grew less afraid. I knew God was with me and wanted me to be there with the soldiers. I am greatful for this experience, but at the same time mortified. For the many of you who offer and seek to give me advice, it is much appreciated, but I am here and know what the situation is like. It is very different then what you see.
My mom said the Palestinians were bloodthirsty and hungry for revenge. This is not what they want. Most Palestinians want peace and their land. We all want freedom. Please don't believe the news the way the portray Palestinians. Do you know the Hamas leader they killed in Gaza was a moderate who was against bombings and was working for peace? Did you know that the IDF assassinates Hamas members who are moderate or against a lot of the bad things and leave many of the fanatics? I bet you didn't know that all of Hamas doesn't support suicide bombings. That's like saying all Democrats supported the bombing of kosovo because of Clinton's decisions.
Also, see: www.palsolidarity.org for "Demolishing culture, destroying lives" report from Anna in Nablus
Visiting The Injured Laura August 27, 2003 Gaza
Mohammed's legs are smattered with scars from bullet holes, his foot is covered in bandages and his knees jut out awkwardly as one who has been lying in the hospital for six weeks, since he was shot by a tank in Beit Hanoun during the invasion while attempting to help two who had been shot dead and another who had been shot in the face, these were children, Mohammed is 17 and he will not walk again. His smiling face beckons us from the corner of the hospital room. Smiling? What can I do, his eyes say. Cry?
In another corner some 20-something officer is recovering from being shot in the leg. He patrols the border at the north of the Gaza Strip and one day he was leaving work and an Israeli soldier shot him in the leg. Like that.
These are not even the recent injuries. Ibrahim's leg is broken from the attack yesterday in Jabaliya camp. Three Apache missiles in a refugee camp holding 90,000 people in a single square kilometer, the most densely populated place in the world. The activists they were targeting escaped, so the army's big victory was an old man riding his donkey cart, three donkeys, and twenty-six injured. We heard the F16 riding lower than usual and I'd just learned that the army usually uses F16s to disguise the sound of an Apache. So you won't be able to run.
The man who was leaving his carpentry job to pick up some small gifts for his children on his way home and got his leg blown apart by the first missile. He tried to move out of the way and then the second missile came from the other direction and so his arm is in a sling as well. Another man who was walking down the stairs to leave work. Another man who was trying to help the injured.
F16s interfere with phone signals for like 10 minutes after they leave an area so no one can call the ambulances. The first bomb three days ago came at nighttime and no one could figure out where it had hit. One person I know said he was right next door and heard the blast and still didn't know where it was, but he started to walk out of the area, trying to go home, and tripped on a body part of someone blown apart and that's how he know where the Apache had hit.
The man in the bed who was going to buy gifts for his kids and got hit twice, he says it's not enough for us just to visit, just to talk, well I don't know what is enough or how there can be enough and I suppose when this ends we will know how much is enough.
Meanwhile we visit the family of Ahmed Ishtawi, one of the four killed in the Apache attack from three days ago. His 18-year-old wife is three months pregnant, what were you doing at eighteen?
Tomorrow I'm going to a 4-hour hunger strike outside of the UN main office in Gaza, around 50 eight to 15-year-old kids are going to strike for their parents who have been detained and imprisoned.
I am utterly horrified. It does not become less.
I love you all and wish you all the best In love and solidarity Laura
Exchanging Ideas With Local Imams Laura August 26, 2003 Gaza
Recently our group has been meeting with a group of imams from the community who approached us and asked if we could exchange ideas and discuss ways of working together with the community. We have met with a total of four imams in three meetings. They are young - 17, 18, 21, 25. Apparently about half of the imams in Rafah are young men who have been pulled closer to religion during this Intifada. Here is a transcript from our second meeting, which was our turn to ask questions after they had taken the first meeting to learn about us. It was translated and then transcribed by two people in our group.
Intro: No matter the religion, race or country, we appreciate anyone who comes to stand with us in our struggle toward independence
Question 1. How big is your group/how do people join/is everyone welcome?
Our group consists mainly of Muslim religious youth of Rafah who believe in all forms of struggle to liberate our land, including peaceful struggle. We care a lot about problems against Islam. We aren't hostile towards anyone, Islam does not allow that, we must accept everyone who believes in the prophets, and in God, anyone from the three religions. but our community is purely Muslim.
Question 2. Role of imam in the mosque and the community and ways of interacting with the community.
We give lectures in the mosque to give right direction and instructions to people. Every friday we give longer lectures and we give shorter ones at every prayer time as well. We encourage good behavior and accordance with Islam.
In society our role is to promote and sustain our love for each other and for God, without which the fabric of Palestinian society would unravel.
We interact with the community in the mosque, as well as sending subcommittees out to the areas of need, especially in the camps. Everywhere we go and in everything we do we try to bring others to a greater understanding of Islam.
Question 3. How did you become interested in working with us/future work together/ most effective way we can help combat the occupation and the isolation of people in Palestine?
We are ready to participate in any activity or program that helps Palestinians. We would like to introduce you to the cultural reward center as well as exchange view points and we can help you in any way we can using non-violent methods.
we believe you are playing a very important role here and we strongly respect and highly appreciate anyone who would com and act, even if it is just to stand with us. We appreciate people leaving their homes, families and personal lives to come and stand in solidarity with us and to help us solve our conflict with the Israeli enemy. Our community considers the ISM as a resistance movement that is no less important in the struggle against the occupation than the armed resistance movements. We respect your non-violent methods.
in order to be effective, we just ask that you remain patient patient patient please do not think to withdraw from our lives. we will stand with you as you do this and we will not leave your side as you make your stand.
We ask that you tell your friends and family in America how the Muslims treated you here, we know of the negative image of Islam and of Palestinians around the world and we ask that you help people understand the truth.
Question 4. how do you feel about Americans/ Israelis/ Jews/ Christians?
Americans- those who are here we love and respect and appreciate, their work their ideas and their huge efforts toward our liberation. Americans in general- We don't hate anyone and we respect and thank any American if they think to help us. People are people whether they are in Palestine or the US. [At this time mike told them that everyone who comes represents MANY in the US, that people help us raise funds, and that for each person here there are many more in the US or from wherever they came from, that are being represented by us. They really understood and were excited by that, but excited in a holy way]
Israelis- we know that there are many many Israelis who oppose what their government is doing here. Our religion demands that we forgive and love, and we must respect this. When Mohammed (PBUH) was attacked and held by Jewish people he finally gained control. When this happened the people asked 'What will you do to us now' he said "Go, you are free I'm not going to do anything to you." We want to live in peace and we do not attack people unless they attack us.
Jews- As Muslims we believe in all religions that were sent by God. We believe in Judaism and we believe in Moses. In the Qur'an it says, 'Believe in all religions as you do Islam.' We respect the Jewish people who are on the right path and who work to bring peace to the world. We pray for the Jews, that they would love us as we love them.
Conclusion In the Qur'an there is a story about a small group of Christ's followers who stayed with Jesus. They gave up their lives for him and vowed to stay by his side no matter what. These people were thanked by God in the holy Qur'an. We believe this is what the ISM is like. Jesus asked 'who will support me?' all kept silent except for the Al-Haroyoun. They said 'We will not leave you, even if we should be hurt, even if we should be killed, we will stay by your side.' There was also a group of Jews who did this and God thanks them as well.
Then one of them chanted a portion of the Qur'an (which he has memorized in its entirety). At this point, and a few times prior my eyeballs rebelled and filled with tears.
Your Presence Is Needed For The Olive Harvest In Palestine
Since October 2000, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian trees have been bulldozed, uprooted or set ablaze by Israeli soldiers and settlers - tens of thousands of these olive trees. Olive trees are a symbol of the life of the Palestinian, and their destruction by Israeli forces is an attempt to de-root the Palestinians from their land.
Throughout the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian land has been and continues to be confiscated by the Israeli government. Since May of 2002, the Israeli government has been building a massive apartheid wall, which has thus far flattened and/or isolated hundreds of thousands of dunams of Palestinian farmland and destroyed tens of thousands of olive trees; Illegal Israeli colonies are built on occupied Palestinian land; more land is confiscated to build roads that encircle Palestinian villages but are not for use by Palestinians; Palestinians are locked up in their towns and villages as Israeli soldiers stand guard; Palestinians are not allowed to access their own property; crops go bad and Palestinian survival on their land is threatened.
The economic impact of Israeli policies on the olive sector has been massive -millions of dollars lost to damage in the past three years, and millions more to Israel's barring farmers from their land. And these policies are designed to have impact not just now, but for years to come - olive trees produce for generations.
During last year's one month Olive Harvest Campaign, 200 civilians from all over the world joined us in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as a front to this policy of starvation and ethnic cleansing. Internationals accompanying Palestinian farmers helped ensure access to fields and groves in some cases and helped highlight Israel's war on Palestinian survival in cases were access was violently denied.
This year we are again calling on you to join us for the olive harvest in Palestine
The Olive Harvesting Campaign, part of the Palestinian people's resistance to the occupation, will be from October 5 - November 20, 2003. ISM will be working in conjunction with the Palestinian Environmental Network (PENGON), the Union of Palestinian Agricultural Committees, the Union of Palestinian Farmers, the Land Defense Committee, the National and Islamic Forces coordinating committee and other local groups to welcome you. Orientation and training will be held on October 3rd and 4th, and every Friday/Saturday throughout the campaign. Please register to join us at www.palsolidarity.org . For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or see: www.palsolidarity.org. For more information on the wall and its impact on the Palestinian people, please see: www.palsolidarity.org, www.pengon.org, www.stopthewall.org
The olive is the lifeline of the
Palestinian people. Come to Palestine and help the
Palestinians endure by joining them in concert with their