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Weekly Post:

September 19, 2009

Hmm…this week, as with all of Ramadan, has just kind of been a blur of work, cooking, eating, then sitting around in a food coma with friends. Haha, its been really nice. But today is the last day of Ramadan. So Eid starts at sunset and goes on for three days. The first day of Eid is supposed to be spent with your closest family members, its kind of like Christmas, people give presents but its usually money not an actual gift. The second day is spent with relatives like aunts, uncles, cousins. Then the third day is for friends.

Since there havent been any parties or alcohol, even in Ramallah, for the past month, there will be a big party tonight and for the rest of Eid in every bar in Ramallah. Tomorrow, I am going to Tulkarem with my friend who I have been eating with pretty much every day of Ramadan. His family is from a village near Tulkarem so since I dont have my family here : ( I will go with him and see his. The next couple days I am going with a neighbor to Araq Bourin, a village on top of a mountain near Nablus. Its supposed to be really beautiful, and you can see Tel Aviv from the top. So thats my Eid schedule, haha.

Im looking into jobs with the PA media section. Theres a new media dept opening soon to reorganize the government’s media dept and make it more effective against Israel’s HUGE PR machine. It can’t ever compare, but at least they can do a lot better than what they’re doing now, which is pretty much nothing.

As an example, the other day I was watching the news and Btselem (the Jewish human rights NGO) came out with new numbers of casualties in the Gaza war. They showed that many more civilians died than the Israeli’s admitted to. Thennnn…an Israeli military spokesperson came on after and refuted everything Btselem said, and was like “They dont have the capability to gather this information, its false, we were there, we know what the real numbers are, blah blah blah”

So at the end, the audience is left with the impression that Btselems numbers are dubious and the Israeli military has more accurate numbers. Then…the story ends. No Palestinian spokesperson, from Hamas or Fateh or any rights groups. Its ridiculous! Someone from the government should have come on next and said, “Well, actually….” So hopefully thats what they will be trying to do in this new media/communications dept. And hopefully I can get a job with them.

This week was pretty quiet. Some settler boar attacks on random villages around the West Bank. Some strikes on Gaza. More night raids in Bil’in–the children of Bil’in have been making protests against the raids with posters saying “Stop the night raids!  We can’t sleep”  or “We want to sleep!”  No one can sleep when the raids are going on.  100 plus soldiers come into the village, in jeeps and on foot, and throw sound bombs and teargas to wake everyone up and scare them.   

During Ramadan, Israel decided to let Palestinians (men over 50 and women over 40) enter Jersualem on Friday afternoons to pray at Al Aqsa- the third most holy site in Islam. So on Friday mornings, tens of thousands of Palestinians travel to the checkpoints at Bethlehem and Ramallah–at like 500am they have to be there or else they will have no chance of getting through.

Then they wait, in the heat and sun (these are not young people…) for hours and hours as the Israeli soldiers let one or two through at a time. Its ridiculous. The Israelis dont do any crowd control, so people are getting smashed and crushed and knocked down trying to get to the front. Last Friday, a woman died of heat exhaustion while waiting for her once in a lifetime chance to pray at Al Aqsa.

My roommate was there taking pictures, and met a friend of this woman. She told him “Make sure the world knows what the Israelis are doing to us! Look, they are treating us like animals!”

It was really sad. And this Friday, the Jewish New Year (Happy New Year!) is now so the entire West Bank is locked down–except for doctors, NGO workers, and people with serious illnesses. But the last Friday of Ramadan is the most important, so people were worried about being allowed out to go to Al Aqsa. The military said, no problem, you will still get to go.

But then they didnt let anyone (maybe some, but not even close to the numbers they let through on previous weeks) through. So all those people got up in the middle of the night to travel to the checkpoints, stood in the heat all day, risked death, for nothing.

Bil’in was normal this week….just teargas and soundbombs and the sewage water. This week the demonstration was in memory of the massacres of Sabra and Shatila. Maybe you know about it, it was during this time, in 1982 in Lebanon when Israel was at war with “Lebanon” –but actually the civilian population of Lebanon. No one knows for sure how much the Israeli military had to do with the massacres. It was Lebanese Christian Phalangists who actually carried out the massacre, killing thousands of Palestinian refugees-men, woman, young and old, children….But the Israeli military was around the camp, and they most likely knew what was going on inside. Yet they let the Phalangists continue to massacre the people. So anyways, thats what the Bil’in demo was in memory of this week.

But in Ni’lin the protest was really crazy. The protests in Ni’lin used to be really dangerous because the Israeli soldiers would blockade the village before the demonstrators could leave to get to the wall. And then the protest would become like urban warfare, with soldiers in the streets everywhere, shooting at anything. But now, the protestors actually make it to the wall, which unlike Bil’in is an actual wall now, not just a fence.

So this week, they had a plan for the protest. The boys had been collecting unexploded teargas canisters over the past few weeks. And they collected tires to burn as a smoke shield. So when they got to the wall and the soldiers started shooting teargas at them, they shot teargas back. And its REALLY hilarious to see the soldiers get teargassed, because we are used to it and we know how to react. But the soldiers have probably been teargassed once or twice in training, a long time ago, so they are never ready for it and they run back soooo quick! hahaha.

So the kids threw teargas back at the soldiers, burned some tires to act as a smoke screen, then they climbed up the wall and attached ropes to the holes that are at the top of each cement column that makes up the wall. Then they pulled….and they actually pulled down some columns of the wall! And then they marched into their stolen land! And they said, this proves that nothing will stop us from reaching our land, even a wall.

Its the first time something like this has ever happened at the protests… Its really exciting that something is actually coming out of the protests. But Im also scared of how the soldiers will respond next week if they try it again. I dont think they will hesitate to shoot then with rubber or live ammunition….but inshallah they dont get those orders.

Well…about Ezra Nawi, the Israeli peace activist who was arrested for trying to stop the military from demolishing homes in south Hebron, he is still waiting to be sentenced. He will receive his sentence on Sept 21st. So only a couple days. I dont know what will happen. Hopefully enough people will be watching that Israel wont be able to scew him too bad. But they’ve drawn the process ut so long that Im sure most people arent thinking about it now, let alone protesting.

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