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Pretty pink pieces of paper

P | 05.09.2003 14:05 | Anti-militarism | Globalisation | Repression | World

5th September, 2003, Nablus

Yesterday pretty pink pieces of paper rained from the clear blue sky above Nablus and the refugee camps of Balata and Askar. Pink leaflets delivered by an Apache. This is how the Israeli Occupation Forces communicate with the occupied – at a distance, impersonal and untouchable.

The leaflets told the people of Nablus that the IOF was their friend and that the ‘terrorists’ were their enemies. Even while the army remained on the outskirts of the city, while days earlier their tanks had used the streets of the city as their own private racetrack and soldiers had terrorised people by shooting children sat eating on the roadside, arrested and imprisoned their loved ones without evidence or trial [here mere association will suffice and the rule of law died on the 6th June thirty six years ago] and occupied their homes trashing their belongings without respect or remorse.

The leaflets told the people of Nablus that the people of Palestine were not the enemies of the IOF. They wanted the ‘terrorists’ and that is all. Life would be ‘normal’ in Nablus again when the ‘terrorists’ had been caught or killed. This ‘normal’ life being the continuation of the checkpoints, the continuing arrests and administrative detentions, the continuing 80% unemployment, the continuing ‘natural growth’ of settlements, the continuing home demolitions, the continuing occupation that everyday breeds more terrorists.

Did the pilot flying the Apache or the author of the pretty pink pieces of paper think that the people of Nablus were really that ignorant to the reality of the last thirty six years that they would believe the Israeli army to be their friend and not their enemy? After the actions of the IOF this morning those pretty pink pieces of paper will be seen as an ironic insult. If there were some in Nablus who believed what was written yesterday, there will be none who believe it today.

This morning at approximately 11am the IOF exploded a seven storey apartment block in Makhfiya, an area on the southern slopes of the city above Rafidia, the army claimed had housed members of the resistance – or ‘terrorists’ as the captain in the jeep preferred to call them, even though international law allows for armed resistance against a military occupier. An apartment block that housed at least fourteen families, fourteen families who were not given the time to collect any of their belongings or valuables. All their worldly goods destroyed in one second, in one blast of dynamite. Here property is a precarious investment – you never know when your military ‘guardians’ will come and blow up your home. Here people keep their wealth in gold and jewellery, in a similar [and somewhat ironic] fashion to the Ashkenazi Jews of the previous centuries.

I found Radna standing in the playground of the school that stood next to what was once her home. Shell-shocked and alone after the blast of the previous minute, she stood their just staring at the cloud of dust billowing around her, she held the hand I offered her and then she climbed into my arms burrowing her wide shocked eyes into my shoulder. She couldn’t cry, traumatised and alone, her mother and father lost in the confusion of people screaming and crying for the injustice just committed.

We stayed like this, Radna and I for many minutes in silence the two of us trying to comprehend the previous few moments. There were no words, she was too shocked to speak, I was lost for words, but we understood, the two of us, the crime that we had just witnessed, both of us contemplating the future for her, her family, the other families and the future of her people.

I wonder what will fill Radna’s dreams tonight, will she dream of pretty pink pieces of paper falling from the sky, delivered by a machine designed to bring death, destruction and misery to the weak? Or will she dream of her home disappearing in a blast in front of her eyes? Whatever she dreams, I only hope that one day the only thing that falls from the sky above Nablus will be rain, a rain that will fall on a free people, a rain that will bring hope and help heal the wounds of Radna and the thousands of other children whose future like the air around them is filled with pretty pink pieces of paper, Apaches and the dust of their homes.

P, ISM Nablus
+972 67 958 817