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Amid the Rubble of Nablus

Here in Nablus the Israeli military have cut the phone lines and destroyed the water supply. As in Jenin, the Israeli military not only bulldozes houses, tortures and kills Palestinians, but also targets the infrastructure, bringing more death, terror, and starvation.

Access to medical care is nearly impossible for many, especially those on the east side of Nablus and those living in the refugee camps.

Of the four camps in Nablus, at least two–Balata and Askar–have been without food, water, and electricity for 13 days. The camps are sealed off by Israeli soldiers and tanks, which, as of last night, have been shelling into the camps.

Twelve French activists are arriving today to try to get into Balata camp. This may prove impossible. Certainly no ambulances are allowed in.

On my first night here, we tried to get to a man who had been bleeding for four hours after being shot in the head by Israeli soldiers. We were unable to reach him.

Information out of the camps is shared only via cell phone, and not often at that. The cell phones cannot be recharged without electricity, but some have been able to call the ambulances and are crying, requesting food, milk, and water.

I am told that 1,500 cars have been destroyed throughout Nablus by grenades and tanks. I have seen countless cars crushed nearly beyond recognition, many burned and half smashed.

The streets are clouded in dust from the crumbling and crushed buildings.

A doctor told me that they have lost their future, the children, and in the process, have lost their heritage because all they can do is try to survive the present. I was told by another doctor that this is the Intifada of killing. There are few patients in the hospital, not because there are few injuries or deaths, but because ambulances are not allowed by the Israeli military to reach the dead and dying.

A Red Crescent ambulance driver told me that he has been arrested four times in a week just for driving his ambulance, and yesterday he and several others, including the doctor, were arrested again. He and others have similar stories of what the soldiers do to them. First the driver and passengers are forced to take off their clothes and are then handcuffed and sometimes blindfolded. They are made to stand in the sun for between 2 and 3 hours while the soldiers shoot their guns around them. The driver showed me the bullet holes and broken windows in the ambulance as he drove off in a bullet proof vest to try to save another life. He was visibly shaken up when he returned to the UPMRC last night. He hasn’t seen his wife and two young children in thirteen days.

Throughout the city of Nablus a water truck sneaks through the streets making deliveries. Last night I spent an hour making clandestine bread deliveries out of the back of a Red Crescent ambulance. The Old City of Nablus is in ruins. Piles of rubble from F-16 bombings, tank shellings, and bulldozing hide numerous dead.

While I was in the Old City yesterday, a boy encountered an unused tank shell. It exploded and left his eyes burned shut, his body blackened, and blood pouring from his stomach. His cries revealed a voice in the process of changing. He could not have been more than 12 years old.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said yesterday that Nablus is no longer a military zone. There are F-16s flying over head, last night as we made bread deliveries we ducked from tanks, getting into Nablus we had to hike through the mountains and hide from tanks behind trees, and the UPMRC (Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees) clinic, where eight internationals are staying, was shot at. We found empty shells just outside the gates, and we could hear the tanks were shelling just down the street.

The curfew was lifted for a few hours on the west side of Nablus yesterday. And although children were playing near the open sewage that runs down the sides of the streets, Israeli soldiers still shot from their tanks and APCs.

The internationals intend to continue escorting ambulances, delivering food, and attempting to enter the camps to help in any way we possibly can.

Kristen Schurr is from New York City. Her email is: kristenschurr@hotmail.com

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