Tuesday morning, I got up with quite bad pain in my joints and I could hardly stand on my legs. A few days before, a client told me about the sudden paralysis of her son, and I wondered if I will be paralyzed too, or simply die. I checked with Dr. Google and found out that there were other options regarding my health state. (My family doctor was not available.)
I had a couple of free hours, decided that it was time for my car to get a polish, and drove to the Palestinian Authority to have this done, for less than half the price than in Israel. I went first to visit my Bedouin friend Ahmad in ‘Anata, and I met him on the way. He asked if everything was alright and, thinking about my aching body, I answered: “Not exactly”. He told me to wait for him at his house and make myself some tea or coffee.
At his place, I was welcomed in ecstasy by Browny. Browny II is my latest dog, which I found after not only the little Palestinian garbage dog, Doggy, but also Blacky and Browny I, mysteriously disappeared. Browny and I are deeply in love. Since I have a small apartment and Ahmad a large terrain, which is heaven for dogs, I left Browny with Ahmad, who takes good care of her. Browny loves ‘real’ chicken much more than dog food. So, I got some chicken leftovers out of the freezer. I wanted to defrost them, but there was no hot water; in fact, no water at all. Unclear, what happened this time, but there would neither be chicken for Browny, nor tea or coffee for me.
A raid on the village
A client called regarding a report he had asked me to write, and then Ahmad said that we’re off to the Palestinian village Hizma, since at that very instance there was a raid on his garage and grocery shop. I have written previously about Hizma as example of Israeli oppression and about the grocery, which in its former life was a small restaurant that was impossible to keep running, because of the frequent army closures of the village. Now a shop, it makes hardly any money but is less vulnerable to these closures.
We found the main road of the village flooded with army and police, while the villagers were watching. I was told the raid had to do with not paying municipal taxes. Authorities had come in to appropriate whatever they could find, including cars. Ahmad’s places were the last in the row. We just saw how both the salad bar and the large refrigerator with its contents were taken away from the grocery. Police didn’t find anything of value in the garage, since they had taken everything in a previous raid, and neither Ahmad nor Ali, the garage manager, had the money to restore what had been lost then. I felt sad and helpless. I was concerned that the authorities would destroy the buildings and made a futile call to a human rights lawyer lawyer in order to prevent this, but things didn’t develop in that direction.
Little story: Many of the soldiers at the raid were women. At some point, one of these female soldiers approached and questioned what I was doing. Obviously, I looked out of place in the village. Furthermore, I happened to wear my Amnesty International jacket. She asked if I were waiting for someone to attack the soldiers, so that I could make pictures when they would respond with force. I answered that I hope this wouldn’t happen. And actually, the whole event passed without any physical violence. Later, I considered going up to her, and tell her that I’d been in the army too, and that I hope that some time in the future she will realize the damage of the occupation. Afraid of being arrested, and also feeling a bit sorry for her, since she simply tried to do her job, I did not turn my thoughts into action. With Passover in mind, I also wondered about the fate of the area and the freedom of the Palestinians, had the Israeli elections turned out differently.
The Jerusalem municipality considers this part of Hizma as belonging to greater Jerusalem. Therefore, one may claim that if they didn’t pay taxes, this was an appropriate measure to take against these shops. In addition, Ahmad was summoned for a police hearing, and warned that he could be charged for illegal use of land NIS 300,000 (ca. $84,000), which is several times the worth of the property. But things are complex. The problem concerns tens of shops on the main road of Hizma, on the Palestinian side of the separation wall. Most of the people running the shops live hand to mouth and have no entry permit to Israel. Even if they had, there is no functioning legal system that could authorize the shops. Last but not least, the Jerusalem municipality does not even provide here the most basic municipality services.
We were there for about an hour and then soldiers and police dispersed. It was painful to see people joking; some were clearly having fun. On his way out, one of the higher ranked police officer asked Ali: “Everything alright?” Ali and I looked at each other in astonishment. Did this officer consider himself the host of a party? Ali replied: “Yup, everything alright!”
Ahmad then took me to a place to to do the car polish, but it was not the right weather for this kind of work, and we were asked to return another day. We continued to Omre, who was trying to sell car pieces in his new car lot; not sure that he sold anything today. Omre made us some coffee on a bonfire. We then went back to Ahmad’s place, where the chicken pieces had defrosted enough to give some to Browny. Browny already learned to sit nicely before getting her food, and now I tried to teach her to say hi, by giving me her paw. This was less successful.
For the moment, we’re alive and the buildings are standing, so how could one doubt that everything is alright? Happy Passover and Easter!