Today I’m writing because I have had a couple of alarming notes from Jamal, who hosted us at his home in Beit Ummar in the West Bank, just south of Bethlehem. In May, Jamal invited our Compassionate Listening delegation to meet with his group—Wounded Crossing Borders. This is a group of Israelis and Palestinians who have all lost loved ones or been wounded in the conflict. They meet together to get to know one another and to build bridges of understanding. Our group sat with them in the shade on Jamal’s patio as the late afternoon sun filtered through the grapevines. The geraniums were blooming—pink, red—and the Muqbul family had prepared a feast for us, coordinated by Jamal’s wife Saddiye. As we sat eating our homemade humus, pita, chicken, rice and vegetables, we heard the story of Jamal’s 14-year-old nephew Ibrahim, who had just been arrested (he has now been cleared of all charges, with the help of the Israelis in Wounded Crossing Borders).
That warm afternoon on his patio, with Palestinians and Israelis who are seeking peace, seemed far away as I read his email on Thursday [photo shows Jamal and my friend Margee, who introduced us to Jamal in May]:
January 20—All time we afraid about our kids always we worry, last night the Israelis soldiers come to my family houses, they brock windows and doors then they ask about my son Zain they need him, my be they will return back in any moment, Sadiye crying all the time and she ask me to keep them in another place but where ? i call all of my group if we can do any thing, i am sure the Israelis IDF dont need me work for peace.
January 18 he also wrote—Here it’s so bad with the Israelis soldiers, every day they coming to the area and start shooting allot of Gaz [tear gas] also they close the road for 5 hours every day then we must go or come from fields, some from my group need to come today to speack with the soldiers, yesterday I try to talk with them but they refused also 3 of them beat me and shooting Gaz at my car then I stay in hospital few hours, I am okay now, the mean problem for us is Amr (3), all time he is afraid every night he crying and need to sleep near to me also many kids like Amr. my nephew Malik, 11 months, stay 7 days in the hospital because he smell allot of Gaz when the soldiers shooting 3 bombs in my fathers house. Saddiye [Jamal’s wife] worry
about everything especially our kids have exams these days.
This week in Palestine—GAZA:
- On Tuesday, Israeli forces killed Amjad Sami Ahmed al-Za'anin, 18, when they fired seven artillery shells at Palestinian workers in Gaza, who were collecting scraps of construction materials near the town of Beit Hanoun, about a third of a mile from the border with Israel. Two other workers were wounded. On Sunday, two other workers were wounded in another area of Gaza.
- On Wednesday, another worker was injured collecting construction materials. You see, Israel is still not allowing construction materials through the checkpoints into Gaza, so young men earn money scavenging in the rubble for materials, which can be sold and used to rebuild Gaza, which is still in ruins from the attack in 2008-2009.
- Israeli soldiers are still not allowing Palestinians to leave Gaza for medical procedures, commerce or family visits. The ban on exports from Gaza continues.
And, in the West Bank:
- Israeli forces conducted 54 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank, abducting 27 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children.
- Israeli soldiers positioned at military checkpoints in the West Bank abducted two Palestinian civilians.
Information from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), as reported in the International Middle East Media Center’s weekly report: http://www.imemc.org/article/60474
I don’t know if Jamal’s night of terror is included in the 54 incursions, but I do know that he is a man of peace. He has worked for years to stand up for his rights as Israel has confiscated the lands around his village so that they can establish an Israeli presence in the West Bank with their settlements. Like all but a handful of Palestinians, he has not resisted with guns or bombs or even rocks. He has resisted by remaining in his town—building a home, marrying and raising a family, going to work every day. Even though the settlements are continuing to close in on his town, stealing farmland from his people, he remains. And he reaches out to get to know Israelis who have also been wounded in the conflict over the land. This is his life; it is his resistance.
Because the Israeli military is stepping up its attacks on civilians in the West Bank and Gaza, I am worried for Jamal’s safety and especially for the safety of his young sons, who seem to be the special target of these raids. If you would like to protest Israel’s actions, please write:
- Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren in DC: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Senator Mark Udall: http://markudall.senate.gov/?p=contact
- Senator Michael Bennet: http://bennet.senate.gov/contact/
- Representative Diana DeGette: http://degette.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=483&Itemid=202
- Send a copy of your message to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
- And President Obama: http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/