Just when I thought I was in for a quiet night, saying good bye to the resisters in Bil’in, the Israeli army came into the village and arrested 2 young men, Yassar aged 16 and Tariq aged 19.
It was a beautiful warm night at the outpost. R and I arrived just after dark. We tried to collect some wood and we built one of the smallest fires the outpost has witnessed. As we finished our supper of aubergine dip, yoghurt and bread the shebab begun to to come out of the night in two’s and threes. Ali arrived in his truck bringing his young son. They got the fire going and the kettle on. A typical outpost night of being taught arabic words, sweet tea, rich coffee, cigarettes, sunflower seeds and loud stories of which I could only understand the final burst of laughter. The full moon shone and we came out from under the shelter to bathe in it’s light.
At midnight I pulled myself into the cab of Ali’s truck. Shebab climbed into the back and we left R and 2 young men from the village behind. We took the slow, bumpy ride back to the village. Through land belonging to Ali’s family, now piled with stones and rubble, 300 year old olive trees uprooted and gone. Onto the security road by the fence, up the hill, round the fence and down to the gate and the site of the Friday demonstrations. Along the old tarmac road, unmaintained, pot holed, passing fields then houses. They dropped me outside the ISM apartment. We called goodbye, they told me to bring all my family to visit Bil’in.
I read till late and finally turned out the light at about 1.30am. No sooner had I closed my eyes than Abdullah was banging on the door. Soldiers are outside. I grabed my camera, bag with notebook, pen and cigs, stuck my feet in my trainers, pulled on another top and I was out of the house. Abdullah was standing in his red pyjamas, two armed soldiers next to him. He was demanding they leave the village. There were 3 or 4 military vehicals in the street. It was hard to see behind the glare of their headlights. Soldiers with nightsights and guns pointing at roofs, round walls, at trees and shrubs. Abdullah went up on his roof, “Get off the roof” yelled two soldiers, “No I won’t, this is my house, what are you doing here, we don’t want you here , go away”. I’m walking up and down the street, between soldiers. Soldiers emerge from a building, they all climb into vehicals and drive past the mosque and up the hill. It’s only now that I can see a group of shebab and a camera man by the mosque. ” Hello Jane”, I recognise a few of them. “Did they take anyone” they ask me. “No I didn’t see anyone with them”. We start to follow the military vehicals up the hill.
Five hundred yards and the soldiers have stopped again. I look at the cameraman and we go forward. Again I’m walking in among the soldiers asking what are they doing, why are they here. It’s the middle of the night, the occupying military force is armed and on the streets of a small West Bank village and I’m walking around in the middle of it all. It’s very strange. Then from a track soldiers are bringing a young boy, Yassar, he is frightened, he’s a child. On his face are the tracks of a few tears. His eyes, like headlights, beam out fear. “What are you doing with that child, let him go, let him go, he’s a child, why have you got a child, let him go”. They try and put him in the back of a vehical. There’s me shouting and getting in the way and a whole lot of big soldiers but my white skin, my english voice means they hesitate. At one point I managed to get my arm round they boy and we begin to walk away. For a split second I think they will let us go. Hands get hold of us, they start to pull us apart, we are holding onto each others arms and hands, the distance between us gets bigger and bigger till we can’t hold onto eachother any more. A soldier twists my arm behind my back. “You are interfering with our operation, go away”. “Yes I am interfering with you trying to take away a child”. A woman in a nightgown appears, she is pleading with the soldiers. A man in his night time clothes approaches. We are in a chaotic bundle around the child.
So many soldiers. Were there 16, 18, 20. I don’t know. They took the child. Later I found out he was 16 years old. In the night, surrounded by soldiers he looked about 13.
As the door of the vehical closed on the boy the stones started flying. Soldiers fire teargas at the shebab. Stones seem to be coming from all directions. I find myself crouched behind a wall with a soldier. The vehicals start turning, the soldiers run to them and off they go, stones bouncing of the metal and scattering across the road.
The shebab congregate back at the mosque. Abdullah appears in his pyjamas. News comes that Tariq, 19 years old, has also been taken. The soldiers drive through a couple more times and are met by stones raining down from behind every wall and gate. The stones of the shebab are shouting “get out of our village, get out of our village”.
Bil’in has been targetted by the Israeli military because of it’s continuous non violent resistence to the annexation fence/apathied wall. This week, in addittion to Yassar and Tariq, 2 children were arrested whilst tending their goats. ISM supports Bil’in’s ongoing struggle by standing side by side with the villagers, trying to prevent arrests, witnessing, media work and legal support. This legal support is expensive as it costs 1000’s of sheckles to get villagers released from Israeli detention.
The ISM urges all its supporters to continue raising money for the legal fund, so that we can continue to support non-violent protest against illegal occupation and theft of Palestinian land, and continue to free jailed children.
To donate see the PayPal link at palsolidarity.org