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Waiting - home demolitions in Balata Refugee Camp, Palestine

jolifanto | 04.01.2004 18:09 | Anti-militarism | Anti-racism | Repression | Cambridge

Collective punishment continues in Balata Refugee Camp, as the Israeli Army takes out its frustration at not catching the Palestinian independence fighters on the local population.
Taken from

Waiting; Friday, January 2
Her piercing dark eyes won't let go of me, as she huddles by the lone heater remaining in the house, revising for tomorrow's religion exam that will not be written. Random chatter fills the room: the aunt teaches in Majd Ben Al-fadi, south of Aqraba, the grandparents were from a village outside Yaffa before al-nakba, the father, Abu Llel, used to work in Israel as a carpenter, the daughter doesn't really need to revise, as she is the best in the class in the UNWRA camp school, bright enough to pick up everything in the lessons.
The conversation freezes as the older sister holds forth.
I am not going to work [as a nurse in Rafidia hospital] tomorrow, because of the situation that our family complains of. What are we to do? Every time I look at the clock, my heart grows heavier. Every minute that goes by, I become more fragile. I was born in this house, 22 years ago. We built the 2nd and 3rd floors ourselves, as a family, because it was too expensive to hire others to do it. I grew up in this house, as did my three brothers and two of my sisters. We know what will happen, yet there
is nothing I can do, but wait.

The 13-year-old eyes bore into me, demanding a reaction, or at least some kind of action. But what will I do? What can I do?
We wait.
Silent tears begin to slide, before exploding.

After two weeks of curfew, patrolling soldiers on every alley and house-to-house searches, the Israeli Army failed to locate the three or four 'wanted' men they claimed to be searching for.
Frustrated in their failure, the local Israeli military commanders have decided to lash out at the faimlies of the men they want. Saturday [Dec 27th] night soldiers burst into Abu Hamdan's house, drawing marks on certain walls and promising to return the next night. Lo and behold, Saturday night the father, mother, brothers and sisters of the wanted man were hauled onto the street at 3am and their house exploded. That same night, the soldiers entered Abu Llel's house to leave their marks.
By the next evening, the family had removed all the contents of their home, bar what they'd need for the night. Even the window panes and frames had been taken to a neighbour's house. We sat with them in an empty room, talking about nothing.
At 3am, just as everybody was drifting off to sleep in the vain hope of a quiet night, the jeeps began to pull up. One, two, three, more than ten jeeps filled the area. Even before the soldiers had approached the door hiding behind their human shield taken out of a house nearby, the family piled their remaining belongings near the door and lined up waiting for the knock.
The father was taken first, made to drop his trousers and searched against a wall, before the women were allowed to follow him onto the street. Three Swedes chained to the threatened home were cut free annoyingly quickly and removed to Huwwarra checkpoint.
The family was led to a house further away, where they were held captive along with families forced from surrounding homes. The waiting continued, and continued, with every accidental scrape or rustle causing startled cries quickly smothered, until the releasing blast transformed the soundless weeping tears into vocal despair.
Refugees forced out of their home once again, the Abu Llel family are now camping in one room of an uncle's house.

The eyes still haven't let go of me.


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