Human Shields in Bethelem

by Jordan Flaherty

I’m staying in the al azzeh refugee camp, in Bethlehem, along with about twenty other international civilians. We’re here to act as human shields, because we’ve heard an Israeli invasion is imminent. It’s 1:30pm right now, on Easter Sunday, and some are expecting the invasion within the next two hours.

I’m staying with a lovely family. They have been so hospitable to us. As with most residents of the camp, they’ve been here since 1948, when they were expelled from their village in what is now Israel. The village is now a national park in Israel.

On the hill above the camp is a Israeli miltary snipers post. The main street that runs down the village is in plain sight of the snipers post. To get where we were staying in the village, most of us had to cross this street. It was a quick, low, dash across the street. As I ran, the sniper fired. I heard at least six shots fired in the short distance I ran, exposed. The shots began as I came into view, and stopped shortly after I made it to the other side. They were clearly aimed at me. And, by the sound of them, they were close. All night long, there was the sound of gun shots, as the military shot into our village. We stayed clear of the windows. Some of the windows were blocked with sandbags.

The gun and bullets were, no doubt, paid for by my tax dollars. Which is, of course, why we are here.

Meanwhile, there are others of us in the other two camps in Bethlehem. Also, some of us are riding in the ambulances, which the military has been firing at. Again, the idea is to use our priviliged status as international civilians to act as human shields against these outright violations of international law and human decency. There are about 100 international observers from the US and Europe here. Mostly US, British, and Italian. Deheisha refugee camp has mostly Italians staying there.

There is also about sixty international observers in Ramallah. Yesterday, they defied curfew and went to the hospital to give blood. There were gunshots, but they made it. Today, we have just heard they are trying to block the Israeli tanks from reaching the hospital.

When the Israeli military comes, we expect them to act as before: taking all the men in the camp, stripping them down, arresting them, torturing them. We will tell the military that we live here with them, we are Americans, and if they take them, they must take us as well.

For more info email: jerusalem.indymedia.org

Jordan Flaherty is from Brooklyn, NY.








Jordan Flaherty is a filmmaker and journalist based in New Orleans. You can see more of his work at jordanflaherty.org.

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