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Living in a Conflict Zone

By Shaqooq fil Jidar - Posted on 06 October 2015

I think the last few days have been the first time that I have really felt like I live in the Occupied Territories.  The Wall, the soldiers, the checkpoints, the questions, the stories, the excitement, the feeling that it is dangerous.  Don’t get me wrong the injustice that I have witnessed over the past 6 months is hard to describe and the sadness and oppression all around me is hard to deal with but all of that just seems like nothing now.  Now it feels more like a conflict zone. 

There have been clashes and riots everyday all over the West Bank including in Bethlehem.  The Israelis cleansed the Temple Mount of Muslims last week for a Jewish holiday and there have been settler attacks around the West Bank.  The West Bank is in an uproar.  Meanwhile, Hamas fires rockets to Sderot…the same town I visited a few weeks ago.  There is talk of the third intifada.

I live in Bethlehem near the Wall and I live two streets over from where all the riots/clashes happen.  Every evening we have been hearing screaming and shooting and sirens and noise and huge explosions. Yesterday, Israeli military killed a 13 year old from one of the refugee camps in Bethlehem (there are three camps here).  He was walking home from school and was shot by a sniper hidden above.  He wasn’t part of the clashes but became victim to the oppression.  He died later in the hospital and this child is now considered a martyr.  In Palestinian culture, when a martyr dies, everyone goes on strike to honor the dead.  Bethlehem is completely shut down today.  Nothing is open, no one is out.  I went to work for a few hours but my co-workers and I mostly just listened to the silence below us as we drank tea on the rooftop and discussed the situation.  At around one o’clock they made everyone go home. 

The funeral for the 13 year old was today and one of my co-workers told me that after the funeral there will be riots/clashes again.  She said to go to my apartment and don’t leave.  My friend from home is visiting me in Palestine.  We have been sitting at my apartment wondering what is happening.  When will things calm down?  How will it be tomorrow?  What is going to happen?  Are the people we know ok? Is the 3rd intifada starting?  When I arrived at home, I told her we can’t leave the house today and that clashes will start soon, once the funeral is over. We sat there for a while, trying to distract ourselves with funny Facebook videos and girl talk, but after a while we started to hear loud explosions, one after the other, the energy in the room shifted and we both knew the funeral must be over and the clashes have started. 

As I said before, and as we sit here, we are listening to screaming, guns firing, honking, tires screeching, dogs barking, and loud explosions which disturbingly penetrate the soul.  For the first time, since I have been here I feel like I am living in a conflict zone.  I can’t describe the anxiety and the unsettledness that I am feeling as I sit here listening to people dying and fighting so close to me.  Maybe even people I know and love.  All I can do is write and pray.


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