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Nablus: Activists Block Jeeps

The invasion of ‘Ein Beit Al Ma’ refugee camp by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) continued on Friday, July 20, 2007 at 10:20 am when several jeeps returned to the main street of Nablus and entered the camp. International human rights activists present created a human roadblock on the main thoroughfare of the camp to stop any other jeeps from entering the camp and continuing their siege on the camp’s inhabitants. Three internationals were shot with rubber bullets during the blockade. They were just three of the several victims of the IOF’s aggressive and excessive use of force that morning, on what could have otherwise been a quiet, peaceful and sunny Friday holiday.

For approximately 40 minutes the activists stood and sat in the road denying the IOF access to the camp from that route. During the standoff between the jeeps and the non-violent activists, several sound bombs were thrown out of the jeep’s windows, tear gas was shot up into the air, and rubber bullets and sound bombs were fired at extremely close ranges.

“They are not going through,” the activists echoed to each other making it clear that they were committed to staying in the road despite the IOF’s attempts to scare them away.

The activists shouted to the jeeps, “Who are you shooting at?” The IOF continued to fire rubber bullets in the direction of the activists as well as at the Palestinian boys that lined the right-hand side of the road. “The ammunition in that gun will kill if you shoot it at this range. That is an M16 it will kill at this range. Do you understand, you will murder somebody if you shoot it. You will kill!” an international activist screamed at the jeep as it continued to fire its ammunition at the non-violent activists.

Three jeeps were blocked from entering the camp by the activists, one on the offensive with two stacked behind it the second on the same road, and the third at the bottom on the main road perpendicular to the main thoroughfare of the camp.

As the first jeep retreated and quickly approached, revving its engine each time it came within a half meter from the activists. “Does it look like we are moving? Back off! Back off!” said one of the international activists. They were undeterred, unintimidated, and unwilling to allow this vehicle as arm of the occupation apparatus access to the camp and its innocent inhabitants—the activists sat down together in the road. The jeep quickly sped up, stopping mere centimeters from the activists’ heads, which were then parallel to the bumper of the jeep, to rev its engine creating a dust cloud in their faces.

The IOF soldiers pointed their weapons at the activists from small holes in the steel jeeps they hid behind. “Do you know what will happen if you shoot?” asked one international activists. As the word “shoot” crossed her lips, a rubber bullet came flying out of the jeep. “Do you know what will happen if you shoot? she repeated. “You are shooting at children. You are shooting children. You have brothers their age. This is your younger brother. You are shooting at your younger brother.”

The jeep continued its offensive hoping to scare the activists with its bullets, sound bombs, quick advances and loud engine. Many of the activists seized this opportunity to have a smoke while they sat in the sun showing the soldiers they were unimpressed with how they spent the United States’ Foreign Aid this year.

“Look at me! You can see me. We are not doing this to harm you; we are doing this so you can’t harm them,” said an activist pointing at the streets behind her that made up ‘Ein Beit Al Ma’ refugee camp. “Are you going to murder me because I am standing in your jeep’s way?”

After 40 minutes the IOF was forced to drive away. The international activists successfully warded off the threat of three more jeeps to the refugee camp. Not one soldier exited the jeep during the whole entire exercise. It was machine versus man on the streets of Nablus. Man, the human spirit, won that morning.