FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Leaving Nablus

Yesterday afternoon we walked through the deserted and dusty streets of Nablus- the only water I saw was the mud made by the sewage running through one street that we had to stand in while Israeli soldiers hassled us, checking our passports and questioning us. As we walked further, we watched the ground for any of our belongings that were lost when soldiers attacked us the day before. We found Philip’s lucky hat in the middle of the road, torn and run over by a tank. It will go nicely with his ripped t-shirt. Bashar’s phone seems gone for good. I was talking on it with the lawyer when it was knocked away from me by the soldiers. My other phone was recovered, somehow, by Jordan in the midst of the fray.

Many of the houses we passed were destroyed. From those that were half standing, people hung their heads out the top floors calling out to us hellos and offers for tea. A little girl ran out with roses. Otherwise the streets were completely empty. The Israeli imposed curfew has not been lifted on the east side of town. The shops were all closed. Any cars we saw were crushed, save for a pickup truck that had been moved in a pile of grass and rubble by a tank, now far above the street.

As we walked, scurrying really, in order to clear the next checkpoint and make it past the Israeli’s before it got dark, my sole of boot broke away all together, so I wore one flip-flop and one boot, calling myself shoebooty after Archie Bunker’s sad-sack childhood story. I was also hiding the minidisks I have of people telling their stories and the film from my camera- things the Israeli military does not want us to get out with.

We were held at the checkpoint for two hours. The soldiers said we might be suicide bombers. One Israeli solider who looked 18 -all young Israeli women are required to serve in the military for about 2 years, while Israeli boys are required to serve from ages 18 to 21, and then for three weeks a year until age 45- said, “You never know. They’re sending 17 year old girls to do it.” Another soldier, about 18 and sporting an Israeli army machine gun, apologized for the inconvenience, saying “It’s because of those dogs that we have to do this.” This is what Palestinians have to put up with all the time, anytime, under the “normal” occupation, that they want to travel from one Palestinian town to the next. Although some are permananet, many of these checkpoints are created by soldiers in different spots each day, making any sort of clandestine passage, or even the simple planning of one’s time to include delays, impossible for Palestinians. No matter what the mood of the soldiers, the process is humiliating. Palestinians have no freedom of movement. They are expected to smile at the soliders while they are detained, searched, jabbed and poked, wondering if they’ll be forced to undress in front of everyone or whether they’ll be shot, while their passports are run through military processing and they’re questioned relentlessly for simply passing through their own towns. If Palestinians are allowed to work, they often lose their jobs because of constantly being late from lengthy checkpoint delays. And this, of course, leaves out how many die because ambulances are held, as are cars with the sick and wounded, or women in labor, and food and medicine deliveries that are not allowed to pass.

As we stood in the dirt, detained at a checkpoint while trying to leave Nablus, tanks rolled past, kicking up dirt and churning black smoke. Another group of soliders drove up and we were requestioned and our passports run through their system again. This time they let us pass. By then it was dark. We walked on the dirt road, still with tanks and military cars speeding past. The only light was a crescent moon and a few stars. We had missed our ride that a doctor in Nablus had set up for us. It is too dangerous for Palestinians to drive in the West Bank after dark. We knocked on a door of a house on the side of the road that we thought belonged to a friend of the doctor. It didn’t, but the family welcomed us in anyway and brought coffee. They began calling around to find us a ride, and offered us a place to sleep for the night. They laughed and took pity on my feet in the flip-flop and boot and insisted I take a pair of their shoes. They gave us tea and helped us practice Arabic. It was the first time I felt safe in hours. Our fear is of the Israeli soliders that continue to terrorize the West Bank, and the snipers that shoot from the settlements.

The family hugged and kissed us goodbye as we headed off to meet the ride they’d just arranged, which would be waiting on the other side of the next checkpoint. We were almost skipping under the crescent moon as walked on, so happy to have been able to knock on a stranger’s door asking for help and being treated with such kindness and love. An Israeli military jeep came speeding toward us, driving at us on the side of the road, stopping and questioning us, asking for our passports and demanding that we get in the

back of the jeep. We were evasive enough, answering questions without revealing that we’d just been visiting a Palestinian family, which would endanger them. We began walking off, but the jeep backed up, following us, yelling further. We were detained again. When we got out of that and began to walk, the jeep turned around and began following us again, yelling that we had to walk on the other side of the road, the side the jeep was now driving on in order to harrass us on the right side of the road. It drove like that, yelling at us over its loud-speaker, harrassing us for a half hour or more. It flagged down a settler’s car, a man and woman with a gun. They told us it was dangerous to be there. They did not tell us that it was the settlers and soldiers we needed to fear, those who have shot at us, detained and harrassed us every day, those who shoot into the dark all night long, making sure no Palestinian can freely move on their own land and through their own lives.

Kristen Schurr lives in New York City.

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
August 14, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Matthew Hoh
Lights! Camera! Kill! Hollywood, the Pentagon and Imperial Ambitions.
Joseph Grosso
Bloody Chicken: Inside the American Poultry Industry During the Time of COVID
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: It Had to be You
H. Bruce Franklin
August 12-22, 1945: Washington Starts the Korean and Vietnam Wars
Pete Dolack
Business as Usual Equals Many Extra Deaths from Global Warming
Paul Street
Whispers in the Asylum (Seven Days in August)
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Predatory Capitalism and the Nuclear Threat in the Age of Trump
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan
Ramzy Baroud
The Politics of War: What is Israel’s Endgame in Lebanon and Syria?
Ron Jacobs
It’s a Sick Country
Eve Ottenberg
Trump’s Plan: Gut Social Security, Bankrupt the States
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s Fake News
Jonathan Cook
How the Guardian Betrayed Not Only Corbyn But the Last Vestiges of British Democracy
Joseph Natoli
What Trump and the Republican Party Teach Us
Robert Fisk
Can Lebanon be Saved?
Brian Cloughley
Will Biden be Less Belligerent Than Trump?
Kenn Orphan
We Do Not Live in the World of Before
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Compromise & the Status Quo
Andrew Bacevich
Biden Wins, Then What?
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Criminology of Global Warming
Michael Welton
Toppled Monuments and the Struggle For Symbolic Space
Prabir Purkayastha
Why 5G is the First Stage of a Tech War Between the U.S. and China
Daniel Beaumont
The Reign of Error
Adrian Treves – John Laundré
Science Does Not Support the Claims About Grizzly Hunting, Lethal Removal
David Rosen
A Moment of Social Crisis: Recalling the 1970s
Maximilian Werner
Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf: Textual Manipulations in Anti-wolf Rhetoric
Pritha Chandra
Online Education and the Struggle over Disposable Time
Robert Koehler
Learning from the Hibakushas
Seth Sandronsky
Teaching in a Pandemic: an Interview With Mercedes K. Schneider
Dean Baker
Financing Drug Development: What the Pandemic Has Taught Us
Greta Anderson
Blaming Mexican Wolves for Livestock Kills
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Meaning of the Battle of Salamis
Mel Gurtov
The World Bank’s Poverty Illusion
Paul Gilk
The Great Question
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
Trump Doesn’t Want Law and Order
Martin Cherniack
Neo-conservatism: The Seductive Lure of Lying About History
Nicky Reid
Pick a Cold War, Any Cold War!
George Wuerthner
Zombie Legislation: the Latest Misguided Wildfire Bill
Lee Camp
The Execution of Elephants and Americans
Christopher Brauchli
I Read the News Today, Oh Boy…
Tony McKenna
The Truth About Prince Philip
Louis Proyect
MarxMail 2.0
Sidney Miralao
Get Military Recruiters Out of Our High Schools
Jon Hochschartner
Okra of Time
David Yearsley
Bringing Landscapes to Life: the Music of Johann Christian Bach
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail