Saturday, April 15, 2006
The army had left the street but there were still houses occupied by the military. The Israeli army during missions often occupies house and holds the families inside hostage to prevent the Palestinians from retaliating.
The army is regularly coming into Nablus at night, arresting people, and occupying houses. Just a few days before we arrived in Nablus two women were taken out of their house naked and were beaten by soldiers before being arrested. All this is happening at night, when there is nothing we can do for fear of getting in between the soldiers and Palestinian fighters. We stayed for a few days in Nablus, every night there was heavy gunfire and sometimes explosions. The next morning the Mosque PA would announce what had happened that night and our co-ordinator Mohammed would translate.
Mohammed took us on a tour of the old city. So many buildings had new doors or walls as a result of the regular attacks on Nablus. Some of the destruction was old but there were some signs from the previous night where the army blew a hole in the wall of a house. Some of the houses had been re-built so many times the family has stopped rebuilding them and have just abandened them as monuments of the occupation.
We did the best we could to try and get into the occupied houses with the medical teams but were refused. We would ring non-stop on the doorbell and ask to speak to the captain but they wouldn't even answer. One of the teams that relieved us at one of the occupied houses said the soldiers were so board that even though they were not meant to speak to the people outside they ended up mocking them and doing silly mimicking of "Captain we are an international medical team please talk to us." There were 15 people including kids in that house and we finally left food on the doorstep that was collected. The families were released after a few days.
The only reason this family were taken hostage is because their house has a good snipping window. The view of the hills in Nablus are lovely, in Sydney you pay for an apartment based on how good the view is. Here in Nablus it really doesn't strike me as a sales point. We think the increase in night attacks and home occupations is a sign of things to come, possibly a re-nvasion similar to the one I experienced in February.