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Israeli persecutions
To not give up is to stay alive

What I witnessed today was very hard to stand even if not a drop of blood was spilt. To watch these soldiers taking satisfaction in humiliating and insulting other men without being able to stop them, is a kind of torture that leaves its marks for ever.


Today is the last day of Eid el Fitr. A day supposed to be one of kindness and love. There is none of that here, in this land haunted by the violence of Israeli soldiers.

When I arrived at the check point, a great number of people were queueing, awaiting authorisation to enter Naplouse. Others were waiting to get out.

Watching armed men put others who are unarmed in such an inferior position, and being unable to change what is happening, makes one very angry towards the politicians who govern us in Europe. These politicians who pretend that they are concerned and worried about humans rights abuse, but who, afraid of the critical consequences they could face, driven by cowardice and indifference, hazily condemn the state of Israel.

A state that, in the eyes of the tormented Palestinians, is only represented by young scornful soldiers.

One also feels angry for all the supporters of Israel in the medias and in the political field, who, for a very long time, have been doing whatever is in their power to embellish the Israelis who commit crimes and defend the indefensible. People who want us to believe that the State of Israel is a democracy, that Jews are threatened by Arabs and "anti semitists", when they behave as warriors and colonizers since their arrival in Palestine.

From here, one feels even more strongly, how important it is to point out the manipulations of these pro-israelis and to fight them. Because these highly regarded men are the representatives of a state that engages war against children and practises Apartheid. Journalists, politicians, honest people cannot keep silent any longer by fear of being called anti semitists.

Wolfowitz, Perle, in Whasington, Finkielkraut, Adler, in France,; they are part of the whole scheme that cannot be disassociated from what is tragically happening in the Middle-east.

These men, during the long cruel years the Palestinians suffered, prevented the truth from being heard, supported the wars and covered up for criminals. Voices we hear, here and there, who claim that these people should be ignored, are making a mistake. Their propaganda should be strongly opposed.

I was thinking about all that when I found myself in the middle of all these people kept in confinement between concrete walls, watched by ugly soldiers, threatened to be killed if they do not comply with the abuse. I had time to confirm the ugliness and the dirtiness of these places that are never cleaned; and where people arrive clean only to have their dark clothes covered with dust.

The cruelty of these unifromed barbarians fills me with anguish that becomes more and more suffocating, but the Palestinians, who have been engaged for so long in this one-sided struggle, must be admired: despite it all, they are stoical. "Are you afraid?" I asked a young woman, carrying her baby wrapped up in a blanket. She shrugged her shoulders. Then she said, in a tired voice: "We have to live, we have to forget fear."

When I turned to my right, I noticed below, three young men, kept apart from one another, crouched with their hands tied behind their backs.
They looked frightened, as if the inhumanity of the whole situation was painted on their faces. When one of them tried to get up to relieve the numbness in his legs, a soldier ran towards him, threatened him with his gun that he thrust against his stomach. It seemed like a dance of death with an handcuffed man and an heavily armed soldier. As the young man shrunk back with fear, the soldier tormented him even more cruelly.

All this took place under a heavy silence without anyone being able to intervene. When I asked the soldier if he had any conscience, he just replied sarcastically: " I have no conscience for people like you."

When it was my turn at the check-point, I was surprised that I was not allowed to cross and was therefore denied entry to Naplouse, which was so close and where people were waiting for me. How could I possibly be a security threat if I entered Naplouse? Their security! They use it as an excuse to justify the arbitration and violence they inflict on the Palestinians and the harshness of the apartheid system they established to force them to crack.

During those long atrocious years, the European diplomacy, instead of taking action to defend the Palestinian population, lost themselves in futile declarations and other peace deals as illusionary they were absurd. The world needs to send international observers immediately; in each vehicle that transports a Palestinian, there should be a permanent witness, as well as at each check-point and at all the other places of persecution. Not hunted and despised witnesses, like the powerless volunteers that we are, but witnesses who are guaranteed the right to film and to show the rest of the world, the frightening truth that Israel wants to hide and that our media, accomplice to its violence, skillfully glosses over.

With a middle aged Palestinian-American, we tried our luck at Awartaa check-point. A check-point situated below an aggressive Jewish settlement. There was a long line of men dressed in dark clothes waiting to cross. The vision of these tall, stout and silent men lined up like sheep was impressive.

With my companion, we could see that nobody was moving forward, so we moved up the queue; armed with our passports. We found observation posts and a crowd of soldiers snarling in an incomprehensible language in order to make us keep our distance.

As we returned down the line, the men waiting seemed at peace. They had no other choice but to stay there and wait for the soldiers to consider allowing them through in order to go home. Their deep eyes spoke of respect and sympathy, but also of insubmission.

We crossed over the freezing open country, we dragged our luggage and bumped into men who were, like us, looking for an opening. We went through the Bourin check-point without any difficulty, then another. At the third and last, soldiers were blocking up the road. We tried to talk to them, to call upon their mercy: but there was no way.

We took the road back up until we found a taxi driver that offered to try the impossible: take the road overlooking Howara check-point and exclusively reserved to the Jewish settlers. We drove by a settlement surrounded with electric fences and reached an Arab village. We thought that we had finally succeeded, but at a road block, we were stopped and ordered to drive back.

All this shows how much the Palestinian have no way of breaking loose from their torturers : their hands and feet are tied.

When we got back to Howara check-point in order to find a vehicle that could drive us back to Ramallah where we had left from in the morning, the crowd was even bigger, children were crying, students who had to waste time and money, parents and grand-parents who had to remain all day without food, without a drink, without being able to go to the toilet.

And the 3 handcuffed young men were still there at the bottom of the bank, their eyes imploring the people in the crowd who wanted to so much but could not.

These are moments when the air is rareified, no one moves, no one shows any emotion. At that point, I realised how much coming out and face the soldiers, as hard as it was - was important to the Palestinians.

To not give up is to stay alive.

Silvia Cattori

Translated from French by Vero Itani

All the versions of this article:
- Ne pas c├ęder, c’est rester vivant