Wednesday, September 10, 2008
THE PRISON CITY
WED DAY 9 Visiting Palestinian city Qalqilyah with Captain Shadi Yassin Druze IDF captain who was also in charge of all Israeli operations in Gaza. In Israel, army service is obligatory for Jewish men and women. Muslims rarely serve but Druze sometimes volunteer. Qalqilyah is a Palestinian city that is controlled by Hamas so in order to stop potential suicide bombings, which where said to be coming from Qalqilyah, the IDF built an illegal fence around the city, closing it off illegally. The IDF allows people to pass in and out of the city at 3 periods of the day for one hour intervals. At 6am-7am, 12pm-1pm, and 5pm- 6pm, the gate is open and those with permits can go out to farm their land which is outside the fence. They are not supposed to go into the city to work. Captain Shadi said that Israel is trying to help keep the economy there stable so that the people there can live and not become so poor that they have nothing to live for and resort to terrorist groups. Therefore, the IDF also allows people to come into the city on Fridays and Saturdays to shop in the village market. Shadi talked about how the fence not being a solution to the problem but helping stabilize the situation so that the two sides can work out their issues. I am trying to understand what it is like for the Israeli’s to fear terrorist attacks all the time but I can’t my thoughts are taken over with sadness for the people in Qalqilyah, and all of Palestine who are a non-violent majority and want peace with Israel. These people are being punished for the actions of a few sick people and as much as the IDF is trying to do to ameliorate the living situation of the citizens of Qalqilyah, I feel that their control over the city only increases the hatred of the Palestinians and pushes them into the arms of groups like Hamas. The IDF solider says that those non-violent people understand why this is being done but I don’t think they accept it at all. Putting myself in their shoes, I know Americans would fight to the death if some other nation were to imprison us like that. I use the word imprison intentionally bc the city of Qalqilyah is just that, a large prison.