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    >Subject: Fwd: PLEASE Read!
    >Date: Tue, 03 Oct 2000 09:13:56 GMT
    >
    >
    >>From: Monica Tarazi
    >>Sent: Sunday, October 01, 2000 6:51 AM
    >>Subject: [GNAA] re: my report from Jerusalem; 30-9-00
    >>
    >>I wrote this last night when I got home from Jerusalem. It's neither
    >>clever
    >>nor analytical. But it's what I saw. And what I saw was heartbreaking.
    >>-Monica Tarazi
    >>_____
    >>And They Call This Peace.
    >>
    >>Today, I went to Jerusalem. It was devastating.
    >>
    >>I was with a group of Palestinians from Haifa and its surrounding area. We
    >>were there for a conference which was canceled because of the `incidents'
    >>as
    >>the conference organizers put it with ironic understatement. So with
    >>little
    >>else to do given the general strike that shut Ramallah down completely,
    >>and
    >>wanting to do something practical to help, we decided to venture into
    >>Jerusalem and do just about the only thing you can do here without risking
    >>your life when there are demonstrations against the occupation outside
    >>every
    >>refugee camp and at every checkpoint. We went to the Makassed hospital in
    >>East Jerusalem to donate blood.
    >>
    >>The drive from Ramallah to the Makassed hospital in Jerusalem should take
    >>around half an hour. Just over an hour after leaving Ramallah, and having
    >>driven through settlement after settlement (because the only roads the
    >>Israelis left open were the settlement roads), we finally got close to the
    >>hospital only to be stopped by a row of Israeli soldiers standing in a
    >>line
    >>blocking the road and facing off with a few dozen Palestinian youths who
    >>were gathered around 50 years away. The soldiers were, as usual, heavily
    >>armed. They had about a dozen jeeps and several vans. The Palestinians,
    >>again as usual, had only stones. There were a couple burning tires in the
    >>road. Every now and then a Palestinian threw a stone in the direction of
    >>the
    >>soldiers (who were too far away to actually be hit), and then retreated
    >>but
    >>to his friends.
    >>
    >>I bumped into L., a German girl I know who lives and works at the Lutheran
    >>hospital down the street from the Makassed. "This has been going on all
    >>night," she told me wearily. "Yesterday it took me 3 hours to get from
    >>over
    >>there to here because the whole road was blocked." She pointed in the
    >>direction of the Makassed, about 150 yards away. She continued, "they (the
    >>soldiers) came into the hospital last night and were shooting inside..were
    >>had several of the boys die in here." she added, by way of explanation.
    >>
    >>Boys. They're killing boys.
    >>
    >>After a few minutes spent gaping in horror, we got back into our bus and
    >>cars and turned around. We drove about 20 minutes through the side streets
    >>until we finally reached the Makassed. As we drove to the front of the
    >>hospital we could hear shooting. The Israeli occupation forces were
    >>apparently getting bored just standing there and decided to take things up
    >>a
    >>notch.
    >>
    >>More shots, and an ambulance zoomed past sirens wailing. With her usual
    >>impeccable time, my mother called. I though about lying about where I was,
    >>but realized that she would be able to see through my fib - if not from my
    >>voice, then from the gunshots and ambulance sirens. I said I'd call back
    >>later.
    >>
    >>We were greeted at the hospital by an official looking man who guided us
    >>led
    >>us up the stairs to the rooms where the injured were being treated. The
    >>first man we met had been hit, by a rubber-coated bullet I think, in the
    >>head. He looked drowsy and his head was covered in bandages. He was about
    >>25
    >>years old. Someone from our group said a few words of support, and we
    >>moved
    >>on. In the next room was a man was lying with a bandage across is face. He
    >>was lucky: his eye had been blown off. If he had been a few inches to the
    >>right, the bullet would probably have entered his brain. In the next room
    >>was a young man who had been shot in the hand. The room after that housed
    >>a
    >>man who had been shot in the stomach. "He's in very bad shape," whispered
    >>a
    >>doctor. Stating the obvious slightly he added, "it's not good to be shot
    >>in
    >>the stomach."
    >>
    >>Downstairs the injuries were worse. A 13 year old girl shot in the
    >>stomach.
    >>A man shot in the head. Another had been shot in the heart - they didn't
    >>think he'd last the night. I stopped listening after that. Another room,
    >>another patient in agony, another family suffering in silence. And then
    >>another. And another.
    >>
    >>All the while, we could hear the sirens screaming as the ambulances
    >>entered
    >>the hospital. And we could still here the shooting.
    >>
    >>We went outside to the hospital's Emergency Entrance. There were probably
    >>two dozen people there, some in uniform, some not. One man had a megaphone
    >>which he was using to give orders to everyone in sight. Everyone seemed to
    >>have a cell phone which seemed strange until I realized that they were
    >>using
    >>them to communicate with the ambulances and the various taxis acting as
    >>ambulances.
    >>"There's one coming! Clear the way! Clear the Street!" ordered the man
    >>with
    >>the megaphone. "Only doctors can approach the car!" An ambulance roared
    >>in.
    >>They hospital staffed pulled out a young man with bandages around his arm.
    >>Someone yelled to alert the man with the megaphone to the arrival of
    >>another
    >>vehicle. Again Mr. Megaphone repeated his demand for everyone to clear the
    >>way and let the ambulance through. And again they did.
    >>
    >>This time the `ambulance' was a white service taxi van, one of many being
    >>used to ferry the injured to the hospital. Out came a girl about 14 years
    >>old. I guessed she was suffering from tear gas inhalation: she had no
    >>visible wounds, was breathless, and was clutching her head. Another
    >>ambulance arrived with another young man. Then another. Five ambulances in
    >>the 20 minutes we were there. I couldn't decide whether to be relieved or
    >>devastated that everything was so well organized. On the one hand,
    >>everyone
    >>had his job and knew what to do: it worked like clockwork. On the other,
    >>that practice makes perfect is tragic when the activity in question is the
    >>admission of wounded youths to a hospital.
    >>
    >>By this point I was shaking. Adrenaline, stimulated by horror and rage,
    >>was
    >>attacking my legs and arms. I felt weak, but strangely energized. My legs
    >>shook slightly as I walked. I was selfishly relieved when we were told
    >>that
    >>the outpouring of donations from the local community meant they had no
    >>room
    >>for our blood. I figured I needed every drop if I was going to stay
    >>vertical
    >>for the rest of the afternoon.
    >>
    >>From the Emergency Entrance we headed to the office of Dr. Khalid,
    >>Director
    >>of the hospital. Relieved to be able to sit down (I wasn't sure how much
    >>longer my legs would hold me), I gratefully accepted the Arabic coffee
    >>handed around. I just started to relax, when the shooting started up
    >>again,
    >>louder this time. So, as sirens wailed outside, and shots rang out from
    >>100
    >>yards away, Dr. Khalid smiled warmly and welcomed us. It's so nice to see
    >>`48 Palestinians here in the West Bank, he began, using the term
    >>Palestinians use when talking the part of Palestine lost in 1948. One of
    >>the
    >>women in our group interrupted him. "We are not the '48 Palestinians. We
    >>have always been here. They are the Jews of '48". But then she thanked him
    >>and put into words what we were all feeling. "Our hearts", she said, "are
    >>with you."
    >>
    >>We asked him about the people we had seen and the procedure for dealing
    >>with
    >>crisis such as these. He told us that yesterday 5 martyrs died at the
    >>Makassed. 190 people were injured and needed treatment. 150 were admitted.
    >>He told us that all five were killed by the type of bullets that explode
    >>after entering the body, causing maximum damage. "High velocity bullets"
    >>he
    >>said in English. I wondered if there was a way to say "high velocity
    >>bullet"
    >>in Arabic or if they always used English to describe them. He told us that
    >>the Israelis have no respect for ambulances, that they shoot at them and
    >>won't let them help or transport people. Later, someone else told me that
    >>yesterday, Palestinians lay injured on the street 50 yards from hospital
    >>and
    >>the Israelis wouldn't let the ambulances near them.
    >>
    >>He then started telling us about the `Disaster Plan' (again named in
    >>English
    >>but explained in Arabic). This plan has been in operation since the first
    >>days of the Intifada. Everyone knows his or her role, where they have to
    >>be
    >>and what they have to do. In times of crisis, all hospital staff have to
    >>either be present or on stand-by at a known location so they could be
    >>called
    >>in if needed. I thought of the `disaster drills' emergency medical workers
    >>simulate in Washington (where I worked with an ambulance service) so we
    >>could keep up our skills. They don't need drills here, they have plenty of
    >>practice.
    >>
    >>When we finished our coffee we went outside to the bus. While we were
    >>milling around waiting for our bus driver to get the bus, and for everyone
    >>to say their goodbyes, we watched the boys throwing stones and the
    >>soldiers
    >>lined up staring back at them. There was no shooting. Suddenly, all the
    >>Palestinians in front of us - about 200 in all - turned and started
    >>running
    >>towards us. Scared, I looked in the direction of the soldiers. My friend
    >>and
    >>I grabbed each other's hands as we realized that the Israelis soldiers had
    >>formed a line and were running towards us, their guns raised, and shooting
    >>wildly in our direction. Lots of gunfire. The ambulances and other cars
    >>fled
    >>towards us. Terrified youths, apparently scared of arrest and injury in
    >>equal degrees raced past us. Dodging them and the cars we ducked back into
    >>the hospital compound and someone pulled shut the metal gate. My whole
    >>body
    >>shook in fury and fear. Half of me wanted to run for cover. The other
    >>half,
    >>the part of me that was furious at the brutality of the soldiers and
    >>exploding with rage at the injustice of the situation, wanted to go out
    >>and
    >>join the shabab, wanted to pick up stones and hurl them at the animals
    >>shooting at us. Shooting at us because Palestinian youths have the
    >>audacity
    >>to demand their freedom, the gall to remind the world that they are human
    >>beings too with rights and pride, and the desperation to risk everything
    >>in
    >>the pursuit of justice.
    >>
    >>I didn't join them though. I cowered behind the gate until it seemed
    >>calmer
    >>and the youths started to return to the area. We opened the gate and
    >>stepped
    >>outside the hospital to see what was going on. We had just resumed our
    >>places when the soldiers starting attacking again. Again some 200
    >>teenagers
    >>turned around towards me and fled. They looked scared; I was terrified.
    >>The
    >>sounds of the bullets were getting louder and louder as the soldiers came
    >>closer. Again we fled into the hospital compound and waited.
    >>
    >>A few minutes later it was calm again. One of our groups sprinted to her
    >>car
    >>(which was parked right in the line of fire) and I opened the hospital
    >>gate
    >>for her. The buaab (part gatekeeper, part security man), a cheerful
    >>looking
    >>man in his fifties, smiled at me gratefully and asked in Arabic if I was
    >>from with the group from '48 Palestine.
    >>It was surreal. We stood in the street exchanging greetings. He offered me
    >>a
    >>cold drink, I explained what I as doing in Palestine. The shooting
    >>continued
    >>and the youths retreated again. And we stood making small talk.
    >>
    >>Finally we moved behind the gate. Our group was, we realize, stranded: our
    >>bus was outside but the gunfire was too heavy to reach it, and anyway, our
    >>driver was smarter than we were - he was nowhere to be found. So, we did
    >>the
    >>next best thing to getting the hell out of there. We had lunch.
    >>
    >>My hands shook as I lifted my fork and used my knife. They were still
    >>shaking several hours later when I called my parents to tell them I was
    >>OK.
    >>
    >>By the time we finished eating things had calmed down. The youths were
    >>still
    >>there. And the soldiers were still there. But the shooting had paused
    >>long
    >>enough for us to get to the bus. We got on the bus quickly and drove away
    >>towards the center of town. In three minutes we were at the Garden of
    >>Gethsemeny. Tourists were giggling as they chatted to each other and
    >>marveled at the buildings and the trees. I fought the urge to get out of
    >>the
    >>bus and shake them. I wanted to shout at them. "Don't you realize that
    >>they
    >>are KILLING teenagers less that 1km from here? Do you care about nothing
    >>but
    >>old stones and buildings? How can you go sightseeing when quite literally
    >>around the corner, Palestinians are fighting for their lives and for their
    >>freedom? You want sights, I'll show you sights. Go to the hospitals. See
    >>the
    >>sight of a mother crying over her injured child. See a wife praying her
    >>husband will survive the night. See the Doctors fighting to treat patients
    >>with no money, no equipment and no supplies. Watch teenage boys with
    >>automatic weapons shoot at teenage boys with stones. But for God's sake,
    >>stop giggling about nothing."
    >>
    >>Of course I didn't say that at all. I watched silently from the bus. And
    >>listened as the radio announcer read the news: clashes in Jerusalem,
    >>Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, Gaza, Jenin. Hundreds injured, over a dozen
    >>killed. An ambulance worker shot in the head in Gaza as he tended to
    >>patient
    >>who had been shot. A child of 14 shot dead in front of his father as they
    >>tried in vain to shelter themselves from the soldiers fire. Another child
    >>killed in Gaza. Another in Nablus. A 16 year old from Ramallah. They were
    >>firing on demonstrators from helicopters and armored tanks in Gaza. I
    >>stopped listening and remembered the clashes I went to in 1998 in
    >>Ramallah.
    >>I remembered how petrified we all were when the helicopters arrived and
    >>started flying low. You can't hide from a helicopter, you see. They can
    >>get
    >>you wherever you are cowering. And I started remembering the sting of the
    >>tear gas they used to disperse the crowds, the fact that it stings your
    >>eyes, your throat, your lungs and your skin. And then I realized that all
    >>day I hadn't seen a single Western journalist all day. I wondered where
    >>they
    >>were and cursed them for their absence. And I cursed the soldiers for
    >>their
    >>brutality. And I cursed the Israeli government for putting them there and
    >>the world for not caring.
    >>
    >>Maybe when I have been here longer I will be able to understand the
    >>situation here. Maybe one day I will be able to grasp whatever it is in
    >>Israel's collective consciousness that enables it to act with such willful
    >>disregard for human life. Maybe one day I will decide whether they are
    >>convinced by their own pathetic excuses, whether they are motivated by
    >>anything besides pure, unadulterated evil. Maybe eventually I will know if
    >>Israel honestly thinks that in oppressing and brutalizing a civilian
    >>population, a people whose gravest crime is to exist at all, they are
    >>serving the interests of peace. Maybe, maybe not.
    >>
    >>Right now, as I sit at home writing this down, I'm too tired and depressed
    >>to care. My body aches from emotional and physical exhaustion, from the
    >>dreadful `low' that inevitably follows an adrenaline `high'. My head is
    >>throbbing and my mind is numb.
    >>But I am enjoying the silence.
    >>
    >>This weekend is the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Israel brought in the
    >>New Year by killing Palestinians.
    >>Start as you mean to continue.
    >>
    >>And they call this peace.
    >>
    >>The Global Network of Arab Activists (GNAA) is a democratic forum for all
    >>activists who strive to promote Arab culture and advance the civil and
    >>human
    >>rights of all Arab peoples. Unless indicated otherwise, all statements
    >>published on this forum represent the views of their authors and not
    >>necessarily those of GNAA. To subscribe to GNAA, send a blank message to
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    >>GNAA-SC@egroups.com. Members may view the guidelines of this forum anytime
    >>at http://www.egroups.com/message/GNAA/3543?&start=3514
    >>

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