This is what the street outside Deheishe refugee camp looked like when I left this morning at 7 AM. I hadn’t heard any stones being thrown at all, but I was happy to see the remnants in the street to know that there were people resisting. Here is what one official report says about the shabab taken to prison in the middle of the night:
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Seven Palestinians including two young boys were detained early Thursday morning during an Israeli raid at Ad-Duheisha camp south of Bethlehem.
The two young boys were also injured during the raid, when Israeli solders fired live bullets into the air.
Palestinian security sources reported to Ma’an that Israeli forces detained two young boys, Hamada As-Salihi and Hamdi Al-Atrash after they were injured with Israeli bullets during clashes at the camp following the Israeli invasion.
Also detained were 30-year-old Muhammad Yahya Al-Qassas, 32-year-old Adnan Naim Al-Qabu, 27-year-old Mohamed Hussein Al Najjar as well as Wael Khalil ‘Atallah, and Ra’fat Abu ‘Akr. All of the men were affiliated with the Popular front for the Liberation of Palestine, a leftist party with a military wing.
I left Deheishe to drive back to Nablus early in the morning, through Wadi Nar (valley of fire literally, though many people call it “valley of hell”), an appropriate name in some ways, though it’s a beautiful valley. It is a road that takes you twice as long–or more–than if you could go directly from Beit Lahem to Al Quds to Ramallah to Nablus. It is a long, winding road up and down several steep mountains that twist and turn so much you cannot drive too fast. When you reach Abu Dis, which used to be a village of Al Quds before the Apartheid Wall separated it, there is a permanent checkpoint that Palestinians call “the container” (see photograph above). There used to be an area there that was slightly covered where people would have to wait in lines if they were on foot. Now it has been torn down. The Caterpillar bulldozer there and the changing landscape at this checkpoint makes it clear that Abu Dis will be the next village to get one of those enormous international border crossing terminals like Beit Lahem, Jebel Zeitoun, Qalandia. One is also clearly being paved at Huwara checkpoint outside of Nablus (picture below). In a report released two years ago it was made clear who exactly was complicit with and funding the increasingly apartheid/colonial institutional structures all over the West Bank and Gaza. Here is an excerpt from that report:
The recent report from the World Bank, An Update on Palestinian Movement, Access and Trade in the West Bank and Gaza, vividly illustrates the damage that is being done to Palestinian people and trade by the ongoing occupation. However, the Bank concludes that the solution is to improve the mechanisms of Israeli Apartheid by enhancing harassment at terminals, and implementing improved systems to maintain the current occupation. It states “economic recovery cannot be divorced from the dismantling of today’s closure system”1 and yet it goes on to describe not how the system may be dismantled, but how it may be made more efficient.
The Bank argues that Israel’s ongoing racist occupation is problematic not because it entails the continual theft of Palestinian land and suppression of Palestinian rights, but because it “act(s) as an impediment to economic mobility and social integration.”(WB, p.11) It argues that the Occupation has split the West Bank into three ‘economic zones’: northern, central and southern (WB, p. 2). This gives an impression of the immediate economic damage done by the occupation, but does not deal with qualitative factors of the campaign of harassment, arbitrary detention, attacks and attempted humiliation waged against ordinary Palestinians as they attempt to travel between, and even within, the economic zones. Neither does it deal, for example, with the effective clampdown on education as checkpoints restrict Palestinian students and teachers from attending educational institutions. Taking account of the full picture, ‘separate economic zones’ is an inadequate description the social, physical and economic fragmentation that is being inflicted on the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS) by the Occupation: these are ghettoes2.
Movement between ghettos is extremely difficult, as the Bank describes. However, rather than calling for the dismantling of the system, the bank argues that it must be entrenched and supported by improved technology and more efficient colonial practice. The Bank apparently envisages Zionist occupation in perpetuity and calls for the gates of the open air prison to oiled in order to make it more palatable to the Palestinian inmates and more conducive to successful international trade.
Not surprising coming from the World Bank, to be sure, but it is important because it illustrates the processes in place to create these structures to institutionalize colonialism and apartheid here. These terminals of which I speak (earlier blog posts contain photographs inside and outside the Beit Lahem and Qalandia terminals) are just like international border crossings or airport terminals but they all exist deep inside the West Bank’s borders. There is no border here–not that there should be any border separating any part of historical Palestine.
What these checkpoints/terminals and the Apartheid Wall do is separate Palestinians from Palestinians, from their farmlands, from their spaces of worship, from schools. An estimated 9,000 Palestinians have to move in and out of Huwara checkpoint every day just to reach An Najah University. But the real purpose of these checkpoints, the wall, of course, is the illegal Israeli settlements. I lost track of how many I passed today on the two-hour drive up to Nablus. The above photograph shows one developing. But the next photographs shows what they look like when they first go up–a set of trailers.
And here is a map of Nablus showing where all the surrounding illegal settlements are–and this is just one of many districts in the West Bank:
Some of these are the largest in the West Bank, and many of them contain some of the most violent Israeli terrorists who literally terrorize the people on a daily basis. This in addition to the Israeli Aggressive Forces who do the same on a daily basis. As I mentioned before, Huwara checkpoint outside of Nablus is the worst one. Today I almost didn’t get allowed back in. It was only when I explained to the soldier that if he didn’t allow me to go home then I would have to move into the checkpoint and sleep there that he let me pass. There is no rhyme or reason to their decisions or behavior. It is mind boggling to try to imagine what their thinking–if they are capable of thinking at all–might be. These last few photographs are of Huwara checkpoint. It still looks like the old ones, but in the last picture, in the distance, beyond all of the taxis, you can see where they are paving the way for a new massive terminal like the others.