Bethlehem Under Fire

by Kristen Schurr

Last night, 30 March 2002, 20 of us stayed in Al Azzeh refugee camp of 5,000 inside of Bethlehem with several families expecting an invasion by the Israeli military. We went two to a house. There is no land to build on, so any new homes are built atop existing ones. At the house I stayed in, we watched Arfat on television most of the night giving a press conference inside his compound in Ramallah. At 10pm he was given one hour to surrender by Israeli military or they would go in shooting. This has not yet happened and he has said he will not go alive.

Television stations showed five dead, shot at point blank range inside Arafat’s compound. The family I was with stays up most of the night and sleeps during the morning daylight hours. The shooting at nights requires them to quickly move from one room to the next, and to always be ready. They do not jump when they hear the popping of F-16s. They simply get up and move as the noise becomes louder.

There was a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. The bomber was from Nablus, which is further north from Bethlehem. The families inside of Al Azzeh refugee camp expected Israeli military to invade the camp and disappear all of the men aged 16 to 50 years old.

Israeli snipers continued to fire into the camp throughout the night. They fired at Palestinians and internationals alike as we scurried across roads to get inside of the houses, which are litered with bullet holes. Many of the windows are protected by bags of sand. We met the mother of a 14 year old Palestinian girl who was shot by Israeli snipers as she opened the front door of her house inside the camp two weeks ago. I was expected to address a conference at Columbia University in NYC via telephone at 3:30 am Palestinian time, but my cel phone was unable to function.

All international media has been asked to leave Bethlehem. Now the Palestinian people need all people from around the globe as much as ever. I write this quickly to you all from Dehesha refugee camp because invasion of Bethlehem is now imminent. It is expected within the next two hours. It is now 1:30 pm. We are told that if Arafat is assasinated the Israeli military will fully re-occupy the entire West Bank, of which Bethlehem is a part. We will return to Al Azzeh camp within the hour to stand in solidarity with our Palestinian families as the invasion unfolds.

Yesterday Beit Jala, the town without lights at night that stands across the valley from an Israel settlement fully lit conected by a bridge that only Israelis are allowed to use, was invaded in order to be at the highest point surrounding Bethlehem. Parts of Beit Jala are under curfew. It is still impossible to get to Ramallah, where Palestinians and internationals are asking for assistance. Some are blocking tanks, others defied the curfew by donating blood. As here in Bethlehem, in Ramallah internationals are also riding along inside of ambulences.

We are here in solidarity with the Palestinian people in order to bring attention to the brutal military occupation, sanctions, killings, and daily humiliation Palestinians face at the hands of Israeli military and government. Bethelehem, according to those who live there, is virtually deserted. Streets that once swarmed with life are mostly shut down now. All schools are evacuated. Teachers say they are not afraid. Many Palestinians say all they have left is their will.

We have been thanked and fed and described as peace prophets. Our presence is necessary and deeply appreciated. We request that as many of you who receive this help in any way you can. I can only ask that we all please raise awarness of this situation, work on divestment campaigns, and tell Bush and the US government that their funding of the Israeli military is a terrorist atrocity which must not be stood for. We will update you as much as possible.

Thank you so much for your caring and interest. A suicide bomber has just hit Haifa, which is about 90 km from Tel Aviv.

Salaam.

Kristen Schurr is from New York City.







 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Geoffrey McDonald
Obama’s Overtime Tweak: What is the Fair Price of a Missed Life?
Brian Cloughley
Hypocrisy, Obama-Style
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
A Day of Tears: Report from the “sHell No!” Action in Portland
Tom Clifford
Guns of August: the Gulf War Revisited
Renee Lovelace
I Dream of Ghana
Colin Todhunter
GMOs: Where Does Science Begin and Lobbying End?
Ben Debney
Modern Newspeak Dictionary, pt. II
Christopher Brauchli
Guns Don’t Kill People, Immigrants Do and Other Congressional Words of Wisdom
S. Mubashir Noor
India’s UNSC Endgame
Ellen Taylor
The Voyage of the Golden Rule
Norman Ball
Ten Questions for Lee Drutman: Author of “The Business of America is Lobbying”
Franklin Lamb
Return to Ma’loula, Syria
Masturah Alatas
Six Critics in Search of an Author
Mark Hand
Cinéma Engagé: Filmmaker Chronicles Texas Fracking Wars
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Patrick Hiller
The Icebreaker and #ShellNo: How Activists Determine the Course
Charles Larson
Tango Bends Its Gender: Carolina De Robertis’s “The Gods of Tango”