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Reports from the Brighton Group - IDF shoot man in El Far'a refugee camp

Fiona | 28.10.2008 19:04 | Anti-militarism | Palestine | South Coast | World

This is part of a series of blogs from delegation of eight people from Brighton who arrived in the Tubas region of occupied Palestine last week. The delegation is part of the project by the Brighton-Tubas Friendship and Solidarity Group. The group's aims are to highlight Israeli war crimes against Palestinians in the region, raise awareness about life under occupation and create practical solidarity links between grassroots organisations in Brighton and Tubas region.

This is an excerpt from Fiona's blog

Today I spoke to Mohammed, an ambulance driver and medical attendant, at his home about some of his experiences whilst on emergency duties for the Red Crescent Society Ambulance in the Tubas region. He spoke frankly to me about the difficulties he faces daily at the hands of the soldiers at checkpoints and in the region where Israeli soldiers' presence is frequent.

He told me of an incident he was called to in the refugee camp just days ago where the ambulance tried to get emergency help to a man shot by soldiers at El Far'a in the night. Soldiers stormed a home and shot the man in the upper arm, right side of chest and twice in the upper leg. When they arrived in El Far'a the Israeli soldiers threw large heavy rocks at the ambulance to deter them from reaching the patient. Such tactics are frequent and deliberate, he said, and added that on this occasion the man survived and is currently in Nablus hospital being treated for his wounds. M said that they are called out most nights to El Far'a as a result of Israeli military violence and often the reception they get is hostile. Noticing the horror on my face he went on to explain that they were lucky to have reached the patient at all and also to have successfully reached hospital as they and their patients often face violence and long delays at checkpoints even when the patient's condition is immediately life threatening.

At checkpoints they always demand to see ID and often search patients whilst in a critical state for ID. They are taken from the ambulance sometimes and searched not only for ID, at times both patient and ambulance staff are asked to strip. 'We are often subjected to beatings whether we comply or not, it does not always happen but many times it does, it just depends, but we never know. We are often delayed for long periods of time, for hours at times, some of our patients die before they get to hospital, they do not seem to care'. He gave more general examples of Israeli checkpoint behaviour. There are times where patients are spat on, laughed at, even children, but more often adult men. Some older patients do not have these problems but there are still long delays'.

I asked Mohammed how he manages to continue experiencing and witnessing daily such atrocities committed to those already injured, seriously ill or dying. He looked down and said quietly that he trained as a medic and this is his job, the patients are his people and all Palestinians feel the pain of the occupation.
I found myself quiet at this point and as someone who works for the ambulance service at home I wondered how many of our ambulance crews would be able to remain so dedicated in similar situations, but we are fortunate not even to be able to imagine how life under occupation feels. I also wondered how any man of Mohammed's age( mid 20,s) could cope with even a fraction of Mohammed's responsibilities and experiences. It apalls me to sit and listen to the experiences that Mohammed and other Palestinians face daily.

Mohammed is a young man but has lived all his life under violent occupation with loss of freedom, great restrictions, lack of resources, pain and suffering. Still he continues with his work and is now also involved in a project with schools in the area talking to groups of children who are suffering with mental and emotional effects of the occupation with the Red Crescent Society Psycho-social Project. 'We spend time with the children teaching them how to deal with everyday life under occupation'. They are very affected, very sad and confused. Mohammed said that for him and the other Psychos-social Project workers they try to teach children how to live a normal life, as normal as it can be, they try to make them happy but to see such trauma makes them sad too.

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