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ISM Reports: Abducted Salfit farmer and more....

1) Israeli soldiers abduct and threaten to shoot Salfit farmer_Chloe H.
2) Interview with a Palestinian friend_Ben J.
3) Fatima versus the Israeli Occupation_Ethan A.

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1) Israeli soldiers abduct and threaten to shoot Salfit farmer November 19, 2003

Marda Village, Salfit Region

Chloe H.

Mohamed crosses the road that separates his small village, Marda, opposite to the olive groves where he's been harvesting for the last few weeks. Behind him follow a donkey his wife and their small girl. Last Friday while Mohamed was picking olives with his family an army truck pulled up and the soldiers who descended, very aggressively told him that he was not to approach the trees in the field near the road or they would arrest him. They gave no reason. This quiet farmer asked for the presence of internationals to harvest the rest of his olives and in response a group of ISMers from Tulkarem came down on Monday morning. On Tuesday we were joined by Abdul Kareem who owns the olive field, his family and a couple of other families from the village all helping to get the work done.

Harvesting olives is a lovely way to pass the day in Palestine. The sun shining warm on our faces, the kids getting tangled between our legs, granny pinching our cheek and shaking her hands at the sky thanking Allah for our help. Marda is a sleepy village with stone houses, chickens and goats roaming dusty dirt tracks and extended families ready to suck you into their amazingly hospitable embrace. Ironically Palestine is one of the most peaceful places I've ever visited. It is all too easy to forget why you've been invited to help with the harvest in the first place.

On the second afternoon I was up in a tree when the little girls came running towards us shouting "Jesh!" (soldiers). Me and the other 2 internationals, Aldo from Italy and a Basque man, Jaume, ran to the edge of the field where a military truck had pulled up at the side of the road. Three soldiers were standing holding their guns and looking down into the field at us. It was immediately apparent who the sergeant among them was, the smallest and nastiest of the three. He motioned for Mohamed to get into the truck and obviously very intimidated, he put his head down and quietly got in. My questions of what law had been broken, where their permit was, what was threatening and whether it was olives they were afraid of was met with a threat of arrest. As soon as he saw the camera the sergeant lunged towards me and if I hadn't been pretending to be on the phone to the press he would have succeeded in grabbing it. As it was I didn't have time to press record.

Before they drove away the sergeant took the other farmer, Abdul Kareem, aside and told him that if they saw him near the field again they would come to his house every day and make life hell for him and kill his children. If he dared to repeat the conversation to us internationals he would be executed. With that they were gone, laving us standing in the field, the peace shattered and his young wife's eyes staring blankly after the truck.

Within 15 minutes the truck was back followed by a huge bulldozer. "It's one of them that killed Rachel Corrie" Aldo said. With the engine running still the sergeant came down into the field where Abdul Kareem and his family were now folding away the sheets that had been under the trees to catch the olives. The soldier approached the farmer who understands Hebrew and told him that he should take a good look at the bulldozer because it would soon be digging up his trees. In the amazingly calm way that the Palestinians have in the face of such maddening injustice, Abdul Kareem said "We are supposed to be attempting a peace process here and both of us are responsible for it. What have I done to threaten you? Look at my childen's faces, the way they look at you. Do you want them to grow up hating you?" The sergeant's face was like stone as he replied that he was a maniac soldier and he didn't need reasons or excuses to do anything. "Now I am going to shoot your friend Mohamed" he said before turning his back to drive away. The bulldozer made a few moves toward the field, which now had Aldo and Jauma in front of it, before following the truck.

A call to the ISM media office assured me they would put the word out as quickly as they could. I had little idea of what this meant as I stood with Abdul Kareem in the field feeling rage and powerless.

I suppose Palestine is the kind of place where CNN trucks drive past quite frequently but we certainly felt incredibly lucky that this particular one stopped and came to hear the story. Following right behind were two more trucks chock a block full of people from Rabis for Human Rights and B'tselem thanks to the press release they had read from the media office. While the reporter from CNN walked around getting interviews and being important, these human rights groups filled the field with around 50 people who, like termites cleaned every olive off every tree within 2 hours. Abdul Kareem, and more importantly his children stood and watched in awe as these Israelis and Jews from around the world, arrived moments after the incident, gave them incredible support, finished the work and were gone again in a matter of a few hours. It was a really wonderful and a very moving sight.

While this picking frenzy was taking place a local truck driver stopped by to tell us he had seen the truck that had taken Mohamed parked just 5km up the road. A quick word to CNN had them camera in hand chasing after it. When they caught up with it they asked the sergeant why he had arrested Mohamed. While Mohamed lay on the floor of the truck he heard them deny they had anyone in custody.

Mohamed was driven around for a couple of hours until they arrived in the middle of nowhere. Between fields and far from any houses they handcuffed him and blindfolded him before beating him very badly on his back and legs. The sergeant, who's name was David, was screaming at him all the while saying "you've done nothing wrong, I am just going to kill you because you are Palestinian and I hate Palestinians". Through the corner of his blindfold Mohamed saw David attach a silencer to a pistol and say to the others "Let's shoot him". While he was recounting this to me, Mohamed said "and I heard this I thought 'goodbye Mohamed, no more Mohamed now'." The other soldiers, quite probably wanting an excuse to stop this lunatic, reminded him that internationals had been witnesses and perhaps they had taken pictures and CNN had also taken a photo. It was too risky to shoot Mohamed and they should just let him go. David apparently listened to them and after a warning that he would be killed for sure if he told anyone about his ordeal they let him go. After a 3hr walk Mohamed arrived home to his family in Marda.

Terrified as he was, the next day he agreed to an interview with CNN, who wanted to follow up on the case. He told the whole story and named the three soldiers, David, Tomer and Ishmai. I can't stop thinking how incredibly brave that was. We internationals have left Marda and the CNN team are back in their cozy apartments in Jerusalem while Mohamed sits in his house listening to the IDF trucks roll by on one of their nightly incursions. And David is still out there with no one to answer to.

Chloe H. (+972 65 435 206)

ISM TULKAREM.

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2) Interview with a Palestinian friend

November 18, 2003 Ben J.

Jenin

Hi, it's Ben in Jenin. I'm sick, I resisted it well but finally succumbed, everyone here has had it. Yesterday I was working on a farm, pulling weeds that I was allergic to, and that pushed me over the edge. It was a good thing we were there though, as 5 soldiers crossed thru the settlement fence and came up to the field where we were working.

Tonight I am convalescing at my friend's house, much nicer than the ISM flat {he calls it the goat house}.he let me stay here so I can get some rest etc. This short interview will consist mostly of yes or no and short answer questions because I am SUCH a slow typer.

What's your name? "Nidal"

How Old are you? "28"

From? "Jenin"

What's your job? "Taxi-driver"

Why do you have an Ajnabi {foreigner} at your house? "Tough question...{laughter} ummmm,because Ben believe in our case, so I believe in him. And because we became friends, good friends, and Ben is sick, so I would like to help as much as I can. That's it."

How did we meet? "By chance, I dropped some ISMers off, it was curfew, and we met."

What does curfew mean? "Not allowed to go out of home....you might get shot, if you will. They can do anything to you if they catch you. You have no rights, in a few words."

How does curfew affect your life? "Too much, financially, emotionally, a lot of stress, makes you feel depressed, angry. Sometimes you hope that God didn't even create you, but it makes you feel more stronger in your fight, because they don't have a right to make curfew."

What is your fight? "What's is my fight?........{long pause} To get my freedom back, my honor, dignity. To live my life. And for sure to have my homeland back."

What do you mean by 'your homeland'? "My homeland that Israel took from us, in force."

Do you mean erasing all of Israel? "No. I don't care about Israel, to be existed or not. I want my homeland, Palestine. I wanna live like any human being in all over the world, but with honor, not without. I wanna feel safe with my family, friends, everybody. Not to try just to survive, everyday. I feel sick of that."

So, Palestine beside Israel? "I don't really care." Would you be happy with a Palestinian nation consisting of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, free of all settlements? "This is the lower thing that we can think of at this moment. At least to have a house, without the noise of tanks." So, you are not interested in the politics? "It's just a game, they made up everything."

So, what is Palestine? "Its a state which was existed before. A nation before, even if i can't find it on the map right now. But it still exists in our hearts..........and minds. We won't forget it."

What is Palestine today? "Metal bars, of what it was before, all the cities separated from each other, most of the roads are closed, you can't get in or go out from you're own city, or where you live. What else?Its controlled, they control us, how we should breathe, what to eat, they control all of the water resource, even the air."

Do you hate Israel? "I hate nobody. God created us to respect each other, and to be forgiven. But I dislike the Israeli acts and how they treat my homeland. I wish I can change their minds, to be more merciful, as human beings."

Why are they here? "Because of their acts in the past, and cause one of their habits, to cheat, and to get what they want without a right. So the other countries wanted to kick them out of their land, so they helped them to occupy Palestine, and that kept them away from Europe and England, unfortunately."

What about the Holocaust, didn't it lead to the creation of Israel? "I think it wasn't like that. I think the Nazis did that to make the Jews be scared and to push them to leave from there."

Of course it scared them, millions were killed. Do you think that's only a warning? "It's not a warning; it's just the way that they made them leave, to make the whole world believe in their story, to feel sympathy for them, so they could take my homeland. But even so, everything was because of what Jews did all over the world."

So, the Jews deserved the Holocaust? "Nobody deserve to get killed, but they paid for what they did."

What had they done? "I prefer to talk about what they do, it would be the same. They are killing people here, innocent people, civilians. They expect everybody to respect them by this way? I don't think so."

So, most westerners would read this and say that you hate Jews and don't care about the Holocaust. True? "As I said earlier, I hate nobody, even Jews, but I hate their acts, I hate what they did to my family, I hate how they destroyed my own house without a reason, I hate when they insult, humiliate me for nothing. But about the Holocaust, it wasn't me. I didn't do that to them. As it's our destiny to live under illegal occupation, it was their destiny to pass the holocaust."

Do you feel sadness for the millions of Jewish kids who died? "Yes, but I feel sadness when I see Palestinian kids die everyday too, without any mercy.

Would Palestinians ever leave Israel in peace if you got a free Palestine? "If Israelis would leave us to live in peace."

Do you have Israeli friends? "I had. A bunch of them, I'm not sure if they still see me as a friend, but I'm worried about them. They are my friends. We ate together from the same plate."

Are all Jews bad? "Not all your fingers are the same."

What do you think about the Palestinian fighters? Are they terrorists? "No way, they are Resistance, they are giving their souls, blood, to the others, to have their dignity back. They have the right to resist."

What about you, what are your hobbies? "To survive, live in peace, save my family, to live in a free Palestine, in honor, with dignity, to live as a normal human being."

What is your message to Israelis reading this? "Think twice, of what your leaders do. Is it fair what they do? When this gonna stop? Please do your best to have peace on earth."

To Americans? "Tough question. Stop supporting the bad things being done. Don't believe all of what your leaders say. Believe in love. Find out what's right and what's wrong."

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3) Fatima versus the Israeli Occupation

Greetings,

We've been taking eyewitness reports from Burqin village regarding the November 8th incursion that resulted in the deaths of Moafaz Wasif, 16, and Laith Mazen, 15. Five others were wounded by gunfire and several beaten. Eyewitness testimony will be forthcoming. Meantime, several of the interviews I attended resulted in translation to verse. So, here are two shorts "Moafaz Wasif, Sixteen" and "Fatima versus the Israeli Occupation."

--ethan


7:15 PM, 18 November, 2003.
Jenin, Palestine

Fatima versus the Israeli Occupation

Small movements and fiery shrapnel
eviscerates her hand.
For lack of large movements
dead would she be.

Driven to the roadblock, American Made
Israeli Tanks hold the road within their grip.
Unto the tanks an old woman is driven
by occupation
by shrapnel
by 5.56 millimeters of lead.

Upon the tanks then unto the road
traveling by ambulance
traveling towards Jenin, traveling
toward salvation, toward
western medical technology, towards freedom
from pain.

Yet the woman, the ambulance they are delayed.
by American Made Israeli Tanks.

One-hour delays while soldiers claim she was resisting, resisting
What?
Travel to the hospital?
Resisting being shot in the hand?

Fatima is single, she has no children.
Born in nineteen forty eight, Fatima is fifty-five


...............

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For "Moafaz Wasif, Sixteen" by Ethan and other ISM reports and volunteer journals, please see: http://www.palsolidarity.org/reports/journals_reports_main.php

INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY MOVEMENT www.palsolidarity.org

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