Israeli Invasion in Yanoun, Palestine--3 Boys Shot
Report-back from Oregon native in Palestine
Hello! I'm an Oregon native, lived twenty years in Corvallis/Eugene/Portland, since then on the East Coast and now In Palestine off and on with the International Solidarity Movement. My wife and I are in the West Bank for the next six weeks, learning and listening and helping out where possible. On Tuesday we took a taxi to Yamoun, a small village to the west of Jenin that had just come under Israeli invasion/curfew/etc. They're right in the middle of Ramadan here, which means everyone is fasting, no food or water from sun up to sun down. Breaking the fast at sun down is part of the religious tradition. It's the equivalent of having a suicide bombing during the Jewish Sadir, or a military campaign on Christmas day.
We arrived in the late morning in a drizzling rain to find a huge crowd of young Palestinian boys--"shebab"--throwing stones at Israeli military jeeps. There were 200 or so kids, ranging in age from 6 to 18 years old. The jeeps look to be indestructable and the Israeli soldiers (mostly 18-20 years old themselves) were in no real danger--they stared straight ahead, steely and solid, as heaps of rubble rained down on their hoods and windshields. Teenage shouts were punctuated by periodic bursts of machine gun fire and and their answering screams of hasty retreat.
Yamoun was under military curfew, which means in theory that no one is allowed to leave their homes and everything is closed. In practice it didn't really seem to work that way. Folks were out in the streets, sticking their heads out of doorways to peer down alleyways, dodging clash points to get around to the grocery store, an old man riding a donkey through the crowd of rock-wielding young boys. Everything would be quiet one minute and the next a heavily armored miltary jeep would drive past shooting.
When the military first caught sight of us amongst the shebab the shooting seemed to stop for about half an hour, but it resumed anywhere we weren't. I'm not so sure internationals have that much power anymore, but the Palestinians (none of whom knew who we were or what we were doing) seemed happy to see someone interested in what was happening to them. In the middle of gun shots and rock throwing little kids would run up to us shouting "what is your name?" and "where are you from?". English classes start here at 5--education amongst occupation.
Shortly after we arrived a boy of 12 was shot in the arm and brought by his comrades to the local clinic, which waited with open doors just two blocks from the clash point.
The kids set up numerous barricades, although only one (a burning tractor tire) seemed to stop the Israelis for any amount of time. Tanks crushed at least 2 civilian vehicles.
In addition to the destruction in the street and clashes with kids, the military took over 4 homes in the town to use as bases for their operation. They smashed in doors, and smashed out windows in 2 of them. In all four they took the families who were there and locked them in one room, with no food, water or bathroom. In the largest home this meant 50 - 65 people in one small space with no bathroom.
Tuesday evening Liv and I tried to deliver food to the family in one of the homes that was occupied. The soldiers at first said we had to leave, but then one said we could put it on the stairs and they would take it up later. The family later reported they got the food after about 3 hours.
Later that night we tried to go to another occupied home where a family was being held. The grandmother needed medications, and the Red Crescent (like the Red Cross) drove us towards the house. An Israeli military ambulance was parked in front of the house and they would not allow us to go past them, or take the food, or even the small package of medicine to the family. The soldiers wouldn't speak to us in English but after their tempers wore thin they told us to "get back in the car and go away right now." The doctor we were with said that they had told him in Arabic that if they saw his face again they would "fuck" him.
The crazy thing about all this is that the families were being held hostage. The soldiers could have let them leave, or at least the elderly, the women, and the children. They did not. Instead (in one case) they told the father of the family that if he made one noise they would take his youngest child out of the room--a threat. None of the occupied homes had "wanted" men in them.
On Wednesday, a 14-year-old boy (Samir) was shot once in the side and once in the arm. I caught sight of the boy as he was carried to the small medical clinic here, and his friends stood in circles around the blood he left on the pavement. We learned later that the boy was shot not by a firghtened or angry soldier in a passing vehicle, but by a sniper in one of the occupied houses, several blocks distant. The boy was not killed, and 30 minutes later his friends were back in the street with rocks in hand.
Another boy (Mahmoud) was shot in the right ankle later Wednesday. One of the internationals saw him shot, and helped tend his wound until the ambulance arrived.
Last night we stayed in one of the homes that had previously been raided and searched. The tanks, jeeps, APC's and hummers pulled out of town at sundown, roaring and idling, just as the families of Yamoun were sitting down to their evening meal, breaking the Ramadan fast. The homes that had been occupied or searched were trashed-- furniture turned over, ripped open, doors blown out, windows broken. Often (not always) Koranic artwork had been destroyed. Imagine your grandmother's reaction if her nativity scene had been stomped on, or Torah defiled.
This morning we walked downtown to find a service cab to take us back to Jenin. The rain had stopped and given way to warm Meditteranean sunlight. All the children were back in the streets, going to school, smiling, laughing, carrying on as if nothing had happened. In occupied homes families were busy scrubbing bootmarks off the floors, and in the roads and alleyways old men were already sweeping away the rubble left by the tanks. They don't know why the soldiers came to Yamoun--they arrested seven young men, but no one is sure why. They also don't know when they will return--the young men or the soldiers.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments, or media leads. Bye.
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