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Palestine under military occupation
Nablus: "It is our life"

While the world witnesses the destruction of Lebanon by Israel, the occupation of Palestine goes on its way . While the cameras are turned towards Beirut, all elements are brought into play to suffocate the Palestinians and to force them to flee their shelters. Sylvia Cattori went to the field and described the terror to which the Nablus inhabitants are subjected.

18 July 2006 | - : Israel Palestine

Every night the city of Nablus is shaken by the sounds of war, sounds
that drive away sleep. One awakens with a start, not knowing if one
has slept, not slept, or if we are in a waking nightmare. There is
shooting, nearby explosions resonate, go off in the distance, and
return as an echo. You don’t know what is happening or where it is
happening. At first, you are very worried, then you stop thinking
about it. One waits for daybreak with resignation. The people around
tell you it is like that every day of the year here in the district
of Nablus, that nothing has changed since 2000, that it is simply
part of the panoply of the war of terror waged by Israel, added on
top of the countless other repressive measures.

Soldiers regularly penetrate the small alleys of Nablus or its
villages at night. They break down doors, throw grenades. House by
house they search for men they say are "wanted", are "suspects". They
force families out on the street, then they search, breaking
everything, and if they don’t find what they are looking for, they
order mothers to call their sons to hand themselves in via the loud
speakers. If the "suspect" doesn’t appear, they may arrest the
father, the brothers, or blow up the house. They leave before dawn.

The shooting ceased after midnight. But the fiercest fighting started
at 4:00 this morning when the city was shaken by a strong explosion.
Then intense shooting. The sound of the shooting was twice drowned
out by the voices of the muezzin, voices going far, returning as an
echo as we held our breath.

What happened tonight during the raid was not the usual. Israeli
troops arrived around 4 am without making a sound, by surprise.
Generally, the soldiers don’t come face to face with combatants
because the wanted men hide. They know they are hunted and, with
their poor rifles, are no match. But this morning, the lookouts
resisted. The fighting lasted several hours. The Israeli army lost
one dead and six others wounded, several very seriously.

Four young Palestinians were captured and taken away by the soldiers.
They are undergoing interrogation by Shen Bet. The information that
they will manage to extort will serve to justify the next round of
raids and punitive actions.

We are waiting for the army to return at any moment and know that the
repression will be all the more severe as the dead soldier is the son
of the commander in charge of the region.

The people are at the end of their ropes. Israel has humiliated them,
starved them, taken away all of their rights. They live here as
prisoners. When people present themselves at the checkpoints - which
are military zones where the soldiers amuse themselves by installing
a reign of terror - they are humiliated, arrested, beaten. The young
- those between 14 and 30 years old - are not allowed to pass. They
must take, at great risk, the mountain paths. A student at An-Najah
University was arrested at the checkpoint one year and one-half ago
and is still being held for having slapped a soldier who gave him a
body search.

After six years of deprivation and massacres, one senses the people
are all the more revolted and on edge that, beyond the persecutions
of Israel, that they will also undergo the strangulation by Europe. A
scandalous Europe that punishes and starves an entire people for
having voted for Hamas.

It only reinforces their spirit of resistance. To rebel is the only
thing that remains for them to protect their battered dignity.
Because of this, one senses they are determined, ready to hold out
against the entire world until that moment when the latter finally
feels the full shame of having committed such a horrendous crime,
until it understands that demanding the respect of their stolen
rights is the legitimate right of the Palestinians.

It remains that what happened tonight will not be without serious
consequences for them. The Israeli army will return to punish them
all the more ferociously. But they continue on with their work,
proceed as if nothing had happened. They look at you with the calm
regard of those who know they have humanity on their side. It is
their strength. "It is our life," they calmly answer when you worry
for them.

Silvia Cattori

Translated by "Sign of the times".