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Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Dear Diary:

For four days, I haven't been able to write. The headaches, the nausea, the pain in my eyes finally caught up with me and I started to feel a terrible lingering depression whenever I sat at the computer to work. I couldn't write, just as I couldn't keep any food down, or escape the persistent nightmares whenever I tried to sleep....friends getting injured....blood....people seeking shelter from falling bombs. Even when we sleep, there is no escape.

And there is no escape from writing either. It is the only outlet left for me these days. Too much happens around us each day and going on and keeping at it is a survival mechanism.....and what a survival mechanism it is.... We don't die from anger or frustration or despair. We just develop high blood pressure, heart conditions and ulcers. I call Dr. Ghada at the Beit Sahour Medical Center and she tells me I ought to see the sort of ailments patients are seeking treatment for....and they're all ailments caused by stress, tension and frustration.

In the past few days, we've had so much more to feel frustrated about......

Following Israel's bombing of Palestinian towns last Thursday, October 12, and Arafat's subsequent decision to attend the summit in Sharm il-Sheikh, a general depressed mood descended on all of us...and has lingered since. It is a depression mingled with anger. Anger at a summit that expects Arafat to "end the violence" if it is Palestinian Apache Choppers, tanks, high velocity machine guns, military snipers and settler guns are aimed at Israeli civilians rather than the other way around. Is the world's logic so hopelessly warped out of shape!!!! What's wrong with you world?

If Ariel Sharon didn't "tour" the grounds of Al-Aqsa Mosque on September 28, the al-Aqsa Intifada wouldn't have started, and nearly 120 Palestinians wouldn't have been killed and nearly 5000 more wouldn't have been injured.

If Israeli soldiers didn't kill two Palestinians refugees at the Lebanese Border on October 7, Hizbullah wouldn't have abducted three Israeli soldiers, and the crisis wouldn't have taken on a new and more dangerous twist.

If Israel didn't send an undercover unit to Ramallah on October 12 to assassinate God knows who, then an angry mob wouldn't have killed them and our towns and cities wouldn't have been bombed.

If Israel didn't forcibly occupy our land....

And so Israel initiates all the violence, kills, maims, bombards, besieges......and Clinton and Barak ask Arafat to stop the violence!! Are they sane people doing the talking, and we are the insane ones who are doing the listening, or is it the other way around?

For days now, nobody has been able to stop talking about their anger at the Palestinian leadership for agreeing to go to Sharm il-Sheikh to demand the withdrawal of Israeli troops and the lifting of the siege!

Is this what we are asking for? To bring back the situation to what it was like prior to the eruption of al-Aqsa Intifada? Are we really, after the spilling of so much precious human blood, expected to go back to settlement expansion, house demolitions, Israeli-issued permits in order to travel and to move about, economic control, arrests and this what we want to go back to?

Are we being presented with either the choice of ending the resistance and accepting - unconditionally- Israel's apartheid state so we can live happily ever after as Israel's obedient "NIGGERS" or, is our other choice that we get the hell bombed out of us and then get accused of "starting the violence"????

Oh world!!! this is the 21st century. Where is the logic??

Wake up world!! Wake up Israel!! When an UN-ARMED population is cornered with guns, tanks, military planes and gunboats, the threat of death becomes so real that one stops giving it a second thought......and how can we give it a second thought??? We have no army, no air force and no marines and no nuclear weapons to fight back....our homes have no shelters, no first-aid kits, and we have no national evacuation plan. What are our real choices? To sit and die, or to die defending ourselves against this insanely aggressive massacre that no one seems willing to stop.

What about asking the world to admit that the sort of peace agreement that Israel and the U.S. were trying to forcefully shove down our throats is not a peace that can last because it would only create an apartheid Israeli-controlled Palestinian state and not an independent Palestinian state?

And how about asking the world to admit that any peace agreement that falls short from implementing UN Resolutions 242, 338 and 194 will never...NEVER.....N-E-V-E-R bring real peace to Palestine.

As I sit here writing, nearly 20,000 people in Bethlehem are participating in yet another funeral procession in Bethlehem. The martyr this time is 14 year old Muayad Osama Jawarish from Aida Refugee Camp, Bethlehem. An Israeli soldier shot him in the head while he was on his way home from school, his school bag still on his back.

Before the marchers lay Muayad's body to its final rest, all TV stations move for live coverage from Sharm il-Sheikh.....and the final summit statement.

A grim-looking Clinton tells us, indirectly of course, that a decision has been made to stop our Intifada. Instead of telling us that Israel will stop its continued massacre of the Palestinian people, he tells us that "both sides will act immediately to calm the situation" and that Barak and Arafat "accept that there will be an immediate cease-fire and a pullback of Israeli forces to their positions prior to the latest wave of violence". Aren't cease fires reached between two fighting armies???? Well...answer me..

What calming of the situation President Clinton? By the end of the day, three Palestinians have been killed, one of them shot by Israeli settlers were picking olives in his field near Nablus, and scores more have been injured. Meanwhile, Israeli troops fired LAW missiles at Palestinian homes in Rafah refugee camp, while a heavy exchange of gunfire near Beit Jala in in the Bethlehem area led to the death of an Israeli soldier and an Israeli demand - via loudspeakers - that Palestinians in the area vacate their homes because Israeli troops were preparing to shell them... Luckily, there was no shelling....for now. After mourners laid Muayad Jawarish to rest, they chanted: "Arafat come back, come back...we are a people who won't kneel." Then they cursed Arab leaders and the Sharm il-Sheikh Summit. All day today, Israeli choppers and pilot-less reconnaissance planes drove us crazy, flying overhead non-stop..non-stop.....non-stop. A show of military might to intimidate the occupied. I swallow more pills but don't feel better. Then I succumb to the tears......again.....and again.

When Muayad Jawarish was shot yesterday, Israeli soldiers were using such high velocity machine guns against demonstrators, and with such intensity, that the 500mm bullets (not 50 mm) penetrated the windows of the Beit Jala Government Hospital several blocks away. One young man who was injured in chest was sitting in his parked car at quite a considerable distance from the clashes. He was parked in front of a supermarket for God's sake....

No exposed areas are safe anymore, and yet there are no signs that world leaders are on the brink on pressuring Israel to stop its savage military aggression against civilians. Barak announces that lifting the siege depends on stopping the Intifada in the next 48 hours.

How, after all this, are the Palestinians expected to have faith in international efforts to bring genuine peace to or ever?

Another day passes and no one believes or wants the Intifada to stop. The struggle for liberation has been going for too many decades. And during these years, girls became mothers and mothers became grandmothers.....they've buried too many husbands, fathers and sons....and still we are not liberated, we are still under occupation and we still don't have an independent state. How many more generations of grieving mothers do we have to give before the world realizes that occupation cannot last forever....and this time around, the Palestinians have had enough......of Israeli aggression, of American acquiescence, of a biased western media that has not dared use the word 'massacre' in its coverage, and of an inept Arab leadership which couldn't care less even if we bled to the last drop....

Welcome to another day in Palestine!!!!! Rise and shine to another day of occupation, and try to find yourself a place under the is there if you look for it.....and so are the green pastures, and the blue sea.....and the rainbow in the horizon.......just stretch your neck out further and you'll find it.

-Muna Hamzeh-Muhaisen
Dheisheh Refugee Camp Palestine

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