a (not so) simple drive

i went to al quds tonight to see a couple of friends. i had to pick up some books and after i walked over to al hakawati (the palestinian national theatre) where they were in a meeting. they go to a book group every thursday evening where they discuss a palestinian book they’ve read the previous week. i wasn’t sure what to expect there tonight because of the israeli terrorists putting a sign up on the door earlier this week (see post below) making it forbidden for cultural activities to take place. but actually as i got closer i heard music. there was a performance happening tonight. palestinians defied this order and a bunch of kids from the old city were packed inside watching a play. i peeked inside and everyone was laughing, clapping, full of excitement. it was a beautiful glimpse, especially in spite of everything going on in al quds right now. i walked upstairs and joined the end of the meeting where the were in the midst of critiquing the intelligensia, particularly those who support the regimes in the region. sonallah ibrahim–one of my favorite writers–was talked about as a model for how a writer/intellectual should resist one’s own regime. i asked my friends about that note on the door and they said that this happens all the time and that it doesn’t mean anything to them–that they continue on with their work there regardless of what the israeli terrorists do. but interestingly, my friend said that a very similar letter was sent to all palestinian principals at all the schools in al quds threatening them and warning them against having any cultural activities.

after dinner i drove home to nablus. i rented a car today with yellow plates because i’m going to 1948 palestine this weekend with some friends. it is so eerie driving down these roads at night because you cannot see any palestinian villages. all the main lights are for the israeli colonies. and all the signs, which i don’t normally pay attention to, are for israeli colonies. it really hits you in a different way how packed the stretch from al quds to nablus is with settlements (though this is also true because i drove on a jewish only road because i have a yellow plated car, it was late, and i wanted to get home faster). i drove to huwara checkpoint thinking i could just go home as usual, but i was told i could not. supposedly the law about yellow plated cars (the ones that can drive into 1948 palestine) was changed recently and now they can come into nablus. i read this in the newspaper. but also i have seen yellow plated cars in nablus so i assumed it was true. but the israeli terrorist said i cannot go home. i told him that i would sleep at the checkpoint then because either i was going to sleep in the car or in my bed. (though, it’s 3:30 am so obviously i’m not doing much sleeping in any case…). we argued and then i remembered that a friend of mine drove me through another checkpoint on this side of nablus so i called a friend and asked her if she could tell me how to get there. she did not know exactly how to do this. so i tried turning up the first street near huwara. i couldn’t recall if it was the first or the second. that first street took me up to the top of a mountain, which dead ended in an israeli colony. (all of the colonies around nablus are filled with gun-toting zionnazis.) i turned around and sped down the hill. i took the next right near huwara village and eventually found a sign that said nablus. i turned to find a checkpoint that was closed and blocked with an israeli terrorist’s jeep. i turned around again. at this point i started getting worried because i did not have a map with me tonight and there were no palestinians on the road. until there was one. as i turned around i saw a green and white plate at the intersection and flagged the driver down. he was going to nablus, too, and he told me to follow him to the other checkpoint and i got in. this story, i think, is important because it shows that these checkpoints are not to keep people in and out–it is to make people think they cannot get in or out. it is to make their lives difficult. it is to create a mentality of people who see themselves as imprisoned. and people here are, to be sure. but at the same time there are always ways to get in or out. it just takes effort, and if you are palestinian, a lot of humiliation and harassment.

i should have kept track of all the israeli colonies that i passed–numbering them and naming them, but i was driving fast. there are permanent colonies and many outposts, which look like trailer parks. i would look at a map now and list them out, but the electricity went out and so there is no internet connection and no lights right now. suffice it to say they are here, they are many, and they are growing. coincidentally, ayman mohyeldin did a story on the e1 colony in al quds on al jazeera today where you can get a sense of the impact of the colonies and the methods by which israeli terrorists create what they call “facts on the ground”:

at dinner tonight my friends told me about various things they are hearing about other tracts of land around al quds that israeli terrorists are stealing as they force more palestinians to become refugees in their own land. the area near shu’fat refugee camp, for instance, is slated to become a new checkpoint terminal. and today ma’an news reported that another family in al quds received word that they would be forced from their home and their land:

An Israeli court in Jerusalem issued an eviction decision against the As-Silwadi family, ordering them to leave their home and the dunnum of land around it after the defense lawyer failed to present documents for the case.

Hatem Abd Al-Qader, advisor to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, said “The lawyer appointed by the As-Silwadi family to defend them did not present the defense documents on time.” Because of the delay the court made its decision and “the decision was the decision.”

Abd Al-Qader noted that an investigation into the lawyer had begun to “ensure that he was not personally involved” in the outcome of the case.

The case has been taken away from the family lawyer and is now in the hands of PA appointed staff. The legal team in the office of the prime minister’s advisor will submit legal objections to the Israeli Central court challenging the decision.

Seven brothers, their wives and children all live in the multi-story building which is being claimed by several Israeli rabbis.The extended family lives in the Al-Yemen neighborhood of Silwan, a town in the southern section of East Jerusalem.

The area is less than a kilometer away from the Al-Bustan neighborhood in East Jerusalem, where Israeli officials say 88 homes of 1,500 Palestinians are slated for demolition. The home of Mahmoud Al-Abbasi, also in Silwan, was destroyed on 2 March.

this home and land confiscation, though, is not only happening in al quds. in khalil today, for instance, israeli terrorist destroyed palestinian farm land:

Israeli forces bulldozed the lands of Wadi Ash-Shajjna, a village south of Dura near the West Bank city of Hebron.

Local sources in the village council said Israeli forces invaded the village on Wednesday and bulldozed the lands on the main road linking Hebron to the nearby town Adh-Dhahriya.

The bulldozed land had been covered with planted wheat, and belonged to the Amer and Al-Bustanji families.

tim franks of the bbc is also reporting today about the jewish-only road being built near nablus to connect israeli colonies:

Drive up the twisting, landscaped roads of Eli, a mid-sized settlement in the heart of the West Bank, and you come across a scene of intense construction activity. Lorries, tractors, and graders are digging, laying and smoothing a new road, more than a kilometre long. The road leads east to the outpost of Hayovel.

The road-building is not difficult to spot. But outside observers are not welcome. The BBC was asked, twice, to leave the settlement, when we drew too close to the site of the road.

Since the publication of a government-commissioned report into outposts, four years ago, they were supposed not to receive any further support from the authorities.

Indeed, the outgoing Israeli government promised to start dismantling the existing outposts.

That did not happen. Late last year, however, after an increase in violence from a minority of settlers, aimed at Israeli security forces, the cabinet announced an absolute cut-off in all public funding to the outposts.

The new road suggests that the reality is otherwise.

david ignatius of the washington post raised some interesting questions today about the funding of these israeli colonies:

For many years, the United States has had a policy against spending aid money to fund Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which successive administrations have regarded as an obstacle to peace. Yet private organizations in the United States continue to raise tax-exempt contributions for the very activities that the government opposes.

There’s nothing illegal about the charitable contributions to pro-settlement organizations, which are documented in filings with the Internal Revenue Service. They’re similar to tax-exempt donations made to thousands of foreign organizations around the world through groups that are often described as “American friends of” the recipient.

But critics of Israeli settlements question why American taxpayers are supporting indirectly, through the exempt contributions, a process that the government condemns. A search of IRS records identified 28 U.S. charitable groups that made a total of $33.4 million in tax-exempt contributions to settlements and related organizations between 2004 and 2007.

israeli terrorists are funded by americans when they steal land and build homes. they are also funded by americans when they steal people as they do every day, including children as they did in nablus yesterday–and a usual they target palestinian refugees:

Israeli forces stormed several homes in the Askar and Balata Refugee Camps south of Nablus overnight Wednesday and took seven youth between 16-20- years-old.

The homes of the young men were stormed, searched, and the boys violently pulled from their families.

Those taken were identified as:
From Askar:
Nihad Abu Koshk, 17,
Sameh Abu Koshk, 20,
Mahmoud Mahmoud, 17

From Balata:
Abd Al-Latif Assi, 16,
Ahmad Hashash, 22,
Mohammad Harb, 16,
Mu’ath Al-Khatib, 17

they also kidnapped palestinian youth from a village near nablus:

Israeli forces herded village youth into local school, stormed and searched several houses and imposed a curfew on the village of Haris north of Salfit Thursday morning.

Eyewitnesses saw at least 150 youth taken from their homes and herded into a middle school with their heads covered with sacs. The youth later reported being ‘roughed up’ and questioned.

on another note, i know that most american readers don’t care about palestinians who for 122 have been made landless, been made refugees, been made prisoners, been murdered. but americans seem to care about sudanese people, albeit only if they can simplify and distort the reality there to suit their anti-muslim worldview. but i find it fascinating what has unfolded today in relation to the airstrike on sudan two months ago. sudan is accusing the u.s. interestingly, the mainstream cbs news reported today that it is not the u.s., but the terrorist state of israel who carried out the bombing:

A government minister in Sudan is accusing the United States Air Force of killing dozens of people in that north African country this past January – but the semi-official American version of the story is very different.

CBS News national security correspondent David Martin has been told that Israeli aircraft carried out the attack. Israeli intelligence is said to have discovered that weapons were being trucked through Sudan, heading north toward Egypt, whereupon they would cross the Sinai Desert and be smuggled into Hamas-held territory in Gaza.

In January, the U.S. signed an agreement with Israel that calls for an international effort to stop arms smuggling into Gaza. Hamas was showering rockets on Israeli towns, and Israel had responded by invading Gaza. More than 1,000 Palestinians were reportedly killed in the December-January war, and 13 Israelis lost their lives.

In the airstrike in Sudan – said to have been “in a desert area northwest of Port Sudan city, near Mount al-Sha’anoon,” according to SudanTribune.com – 39 people riding in 17 trucks were reportedly killed.

what is even more interesting is that they are not denying it on television or in print media as in this amos herel piece in ha’aretz:

The timing of the operation – not long after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza – is indicative of the importance which Israel places in its execution. If the powers that be decide that it is worth taking the risk and striking targets some 1,400 kilometers outside of Israel’s borders, than it would appear that Israel believed Iran is seeking to supply Gaza with significant armaments.

A reasonable assumption would be that Iran sought to provide Hamas with Fajr missiles, whose deployment in Gaza would constitute what the IDF terms as “a weapon that shifts the balance.” During the Gaza lull, Hamas smuggled Katyusha rockets with an increased range from 20 kilometers to 40 kilometers. If it successfully managed to obtain Fajrs, Hamas could have placed Tel Aviv within missile range, which is exactly the coup it has sought in an effort to create the impression of a victory over Israel.

What does Iran learn from all this? That Israel possesses exceptional intelligence, a willingness to take great risk, and an ability to act successfully against targets far from Israel’s borders. Yet Iran knew all this after the previous strikes. If the reports are true, the bombing in Sudan was an important message of deterrence from Israel to Iran, yet the road from Sudan to the destruction of Iran’s nuclear program is a long one.

perhaps all the war crimes in gaza do not matter to the world. will this one matter? will it make a difference? or will sudanese people suffer the same fate as families in gaza who continue to suffer the consequences of israeli terrorist war crimes as in this al jazeera piece on a family assaulted with white phosphorus:


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