We left Palestine, 3 days ago, but of course, not without incident. After visiting our friend’s family up the hill in Nablus, on Friday, they arranged an ambulance to get back to the old city for the night. Curfewed was lifted for 4 hours that day, and you should have seen how packed all of Nablus was! We stayed late at their house, (we had to, they were making a special dessert for us!) and did not want to walk the 20 minute walk back to the old city in the dark.
The road from their place to the old city had constant traffic of tanks, apc’s and jeeps, not to mention a steady stream of gunfire. So, to walk in the dark is not safe, ’cause the IOF shoots at anyone. Anyone. The day we left an electrical worker was shot and killed in his truck; of course LATER the IOF found out that he indeed had papers to be out during curfew.
So, we walk towards the end of town on Saturday morning, to get a taxi to the Huwara checkpoint. It’s about an hour walk, but since the taxi’s are out anyway, we decided to take out. We were dropped off near the checkpoint, questioned briefly and were able to walk through. The area of the checkpoint is about 4 soldiers, with huge cement baricades, a small room set up right in the street for the soldiers. The directional signs around this area have the Arabic spray painted out, and only the Hebrew and the English remain.
We walked a little more and got a taxi to the town of Huwara, catch another taxi at the taxi stand and head for Qalandya. Qalandya is a town with the most difficult checkpoint that is set up at the outskirts. Many people have been killed here. Here you can change taxis to go anywhere in this area of the West Bank. On our way to Qalandya, there are endless settlements at the tops of the hills.
We came around a corner in the middle of nowhere and saw a long line of cars waiting and an APC in the middle of the intersection ahead. We thought we were finished confronting soldiers but said ‘let’s go’. We got out of our taxi, walked passed about 20 cars and before we even neared the APC, we had shots fired over our head (this, of course, caused all the Palestinians waiting outside of their cars, to jump in their cars), and then had the guns pointed at us as we slowly continued to walk.
As we neared, the soliders yelled, ‘only one’. So, Merna went up and asked the usual questions. We found out from the other folks waiting that the cars towards the front were waiting for 2 1/2 hours! We decided of course that we would not be waiting in our taxi’s and let the soldiers know, that once again we were watching them.
We walked to the side of the road, almost next to the APC, and sat down. During this time, one soldier was firing into the mountains. We yelled at him, ‘what are you doing, who are you firing at?’ He stopped and snarled at us. The soldiers here were very rude (big surprise) and cursed a lot at us in English, but we held our ground and sat down.
Soon a jeep pulled up out of nowhere and some soldiers hopped out and one (the commander or something) started yelling orders. Soon, traffic on both sides started moving and we ALL were on our way. When we first approached them, they told us that we could go ahead and pass thru, this was of course NOT going to happen until ALL the people went thru, and we told them this and why.
So, we arrived in Qalandya at the taxi station on the side of the main road. As soon as we got out of the car, men are asking where we are going and I kind of heard a whizzing noise and then saw out of the corner of my eye tear gas. The soldiers had fired tear gas right at our taxi, which hit the taxi and dented it. We ALL moved out of the immediate area.
And when things settled down, we noticed that our taxi had disappeared, with all of our bags in the trunk. We met up with him 30 minutes late about 1/2 km away. He was freaked out, of course. We paid him, got our bags and soon were in a taxi headed for Jerusalem.
So, eventually we made it to Amman, Jordan and I’m leaving tomorrow. I want to encourage everyone to come to Palestine and see for yourself what is happening. I am willing to help anyone with this. Maybe some people are afraid or scared, but what you will see and experience is NOTHING compared to what the Palestinians are living.
Jill Dreier is one of two Coloradans in Palestine joining hundreds of internationals with the International Solidarity Movement in nonviolent direct action to end Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine. More on Jill’s trip at: http://www.ccmep.org/palestine.html