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Report from Nablus

by phone from Paul in Nablus

I spoke with Paul last night (about 9am in Nablus). He, Nat, Leah, Alberto, Jonathon and 2 other ISM volunteers (one from Ireland and the other from Vancouver) are currently in a home in Nablus that has been identified as being at risk of demolition. The 7 ISM internationals arrived to the home last night as family members were stripping the house of all valuables and personal items in anticipation of the house being destroyed. All relatives have now left with the exception of the 2 elderly grandparents (the grandfather is disabled from a stroke), who are being accompanied by the internationals. The house is anticipated to be a target because the son was a suicide bomber. The family described the son as “going crazy” as a result of several friends and family members killed, tortured and taken away and after seeing what had happened in Ramallah last March.

Israeli troupes are throughout the town of Nablus. As Paul and I spoke, I heard several explosions. The ISM volunteers had to hike cross-country into the city as they were unable to pass through the checkpoint. The group of internationals were repeatedly redirected by patrolling soldiers as they walked through the city streets, at times being unable to negotiate as warning shots were fired before they could get close enough to be heard by the soldiers. Yesterday, Paul and the others witnessed approximately 50 men being blindfolded and loaded onto buses near the old city. There were many journalists present. They also came
across a house which had been taken over by Israeli soldiers, confining the two families who lived there to the bottom floor and occupying the upper levels.

The internationals successfully persuaded one of the soldiers to locate diapers in the home and give these to the family, who had an infant locked in with them. Also during the day, they observed two patrols searching homes, following the soldiers from house to house and accompanying the families as they were forced to stand in the street while soldiers ransacked their homes. At one point, a soldier attempted to leave with a 12-year old boy when Paul was able to call attention to this and the boy was returned unharmed. As the soldiers went on with their search, they forced a Palestinian man to enter each home before the soldiers would go inside. The internationals asserted to the soldiers that this is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, forbidding the use of civilians as human shields. The soldiers eventually stopped this tactic after being reminded that “The Israeli army is said to be one of the most moral in the world, and that such behavior has the appearance of calling that status into question.”

At this point, the internationals are planning to stay at the house for as long as it is considered to be a target. IndyMedia has been notified and Paul’s sister called KPFA and left a message there. Apparently the Orange phone does NOT work in Nablus and only a couple of them have other types of phones that are functioning. There is no electricity in the house so they are unable to keep non-Orange phones and video cameras charged. There is a landline to the family’s home, which is how we communicated.

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