Abed – one of them

Posted: December 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

Since the beginning of the occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967, about 700 000[1] Palestinians have been detained by Israel. That is 1/5 of the population. This has given Palestinians a common identity as prisoners or ex-prisoners. Abed (now twenty years old) is one of them.

From 2000 to 2009 about 6700 of the detainees were children. In most of the world minors under 18 enjoy special rights. In both Israel and the Occupied Territory Israeli citizens under 18 are regarded as children. Palestinians are not. Boys and girls between 16 and 18 are seen as adults and treated accordingly[2]. When they are arrested, usually for throwing stones, they face no fair trial. For them it is the Israeli military legislation that applies. It means that they neither have their case tried in a criminal court nor do they have the right to a defence. Even if they are minors, they are denied contact with their family. They can be sentenced for up to 20 years In cases with sentences up to 10 years  Palestinians can be tried and convicted in a one-man jury. According to Defence for Children International Israeli has held thousands of Palestinians in so-called administrative detention. In November 2009 306 children were detained. Abed was one of them.

Abed is one of 700.000 Palestinians detained by Israelis during the occupation and one of 6.700 children arrested from 2000 to 2009.

According to Defence for Children International the arrested child is typically “handcuffed, blindfolded and placed in a military jeep, sometimes face down on the floor, ready for transfer to an interrogation centre (..) The child is often beaten, kicked, threatened and verbally abused by the soldiers in the jeep”. Exactly this happened to Abed. He was one of them.

In November 2011, two days after his seventeenth birthday, Israeli soldiers arrested Abed in his home in a refugee camp in Bethlehem, accusing him of throwing stones. Like most of the minors arrested in the Palestinian Territories he was arrested in the middle of the night. Together with his family he was waken up by banging on the door. Stumbling out of his sleep, he saw a dozen of soldiers outside his door and 9 jeeps with Israeli soldiers on his street at 1.30 a.m. He was handcuffed, hands behind his back, blindfolded and held in a jeep for 9 hours and beaten. ‘Did you do it?’ He was taken to Al Mascobiyya interrogation centre in West Jerusalem and thrown into a tiny cell of one times two metres.

Abeds hands were handcuffed behind his back when he was arrested in the middle of the night. He was blindfolded and beaten, like so many of the detained Palestinians.

–       There was no window and no bathroom. I was allowed to go to relieve myself once a day. I still remember how I knocked the door and asked to use the bathroom. ‘No, they said . You deserve this for what you have done’. If I said that I didn’t do anything, they beat me. If I asked if I could go home to my land, they said that it is not my land. ‘The land belongs to the Jews’, they said. – I spoke to nobody during the solitary confinement of 90 days. I was left alone with my thoughts of what the Israelis did to me. I slept. I was afraid. I was very lonely. I feared I would get crazy.

According to Defense for Children International Palestinian child prisoners are exposed to different types of torture, abuse and degrading treatment at the hands of Israeli authorities. These tactics aim to break the children psychologically and extract quick confessions. The right to a fair trial are not respected. Abed became one of these child prisoners.

Abed was put in solitary confinement for three months. In his 1x2 meter cell there were no windows. Ha was alone. And afraid.

He was kept in his small cell and beaten regularly during the period of interrogations. He later learned that his friend, who was arrested for the same stone-throwing incident, had been threatened to confess that Abeds stone had hit a military jeep. His friend was afraid and told that he would tell them anything they wanted. – I was afraid, too, but did not tell anything about my friend.

Abed was interrogated by a woman judge 9 times. ‘I know you did something. Your friend told us. In the court case the judge will listen to your friend and give you two and a half years’, she said. – The judge only told me what I had done. She did not want to listen to what I had to say. I wanted to speak to her about the truth, but he said ‘no’. ‘We know what you did’. During this period, Abed did not meet his parents. They were present during the court case, but he was not allowed to talk to them.

Abed stayed in the prison for two years and a half years. It was a boring routine of sleeping, cooking and talking to other inmates. – There were no cards or games. We sometimes had quizzes. We asked each other questions. After one month or so, we asked the same question again. We had plenty of time to kill in the cell. We did not quarrel much, and helped each other to avoid negative attention form the Israeli guards. If one prisoner misbehaves, all the inmates are punished. In the prison we supported each other. We were all there because we love Palestine.

After his release, Abed recieved this plaque from president Abbas for his sacrifice for Palestine. - But what next?.

Abed had a chance to read about Palestine history, and he learned some Hebrew and English.   – The room was bigger, perhaps three times seven meters, with 10 beds. Most of the time was spent in this room. Five times a week I got one hour to exercise and shower.

Exercise means to walk and to lift weights. Many Palestinian young men have bulging arm muscles. So has Abed.

During the two and a half years in prison he missed his family much. His mother visited twice, but he did not see his father or brothers. He lost his final years of high school and a chance to study. – I was released in April this year, after that I have stayed at home. I have worked sometimes I the coffee shop of my brother. I wish I could study, and plan to finish high school and enter University. – But I don’t know why I should pay 7000 dollars to get a degree just to become unemployed. Abed is not the only Palestinian who asked me this question during my stay on the West Bank. -Why don’t we have any freedom? Why can’t our government ensure or daily life and our future? Why don’t we have a real life?

After his release, Abed cannot see why he has sacrificed so much for his country. - Why is there no future for me here?

Abed is one of the Palestinians who want to get away from what is perceived as a hopeless life due to the occupation and the own government.  He, and many people I talked to, want to get away from the occupied Palestine. They feel that they have nothing there. They can never get what they dream about. But like his peers Abed wants to return and help his people.

Abed is an ex-detainee. Along with many young people I have talked to, he feels he has no future. It is destroyed both by the occupation and his own government. Even with a university degrees young people remain enemployed. Abed wants to get away, but not stay away. He wants to help his people.

[1] Defence for Children Interntional http://www.dci-palestine.org/content/child-detainees

[2] Israeli citizens under 18 years of age, both in Israel and on the West Bank, are regarded as children. Palestinians did not enjoy this right until October this year when an amandment was made to raise the cutoff age for being considered a minor from 16 to 18. The amandmend is allegely not widely respected.

I just want to sleep

Posted: December 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

This is a story of a day in the life of Khalil Nsash. He is 20. You may have seen him at the Bethlehem Checkpoint selling coffee. He looks at you and smiles and has vivid eyes.

You probably haven’t listened to Khalil’s story. You have not visited him in his home either. – People do not have the time for me, Kahlil says. – Nobody ever listens to me. If I knew any big man, I wouldn’t live in these damp rooms. I wouldn’t need these two jobs to feed my family, either.

Connections are important here in Palestine. If you don’t know any important person, you are nobody.

– I do not know anybody who has power in this community, Khalil claims. Nobody comes to see my hard life – Can you listen to my story tell others about my life?

- Thank you for seeing me, listening to me and telling the story of my hard life.

Saturday night (Nov 3rd) I took the time to visit him in his two small, damp basement rooms in Azze refugee camp in Bethlehem. There I met ‘the sweet taste of his life’ – his wife Frida (18) and daughter Jenna (nearly one). – My daughter has a problem because of the unhealthy, moist air in the basement rooms. She has problems breathing. When she is sick, perhaps once a month, I take her to the Caritas children hospital. Caritas is expensive. All I make in my second job at the restaurant (1500 NIS) goes to the hospital when she has to stay there. At these times, I can’t sell coffee.

Khalil is married with Frida (18) and has a daughter Jenna (nearly one). - Life is hard, but when I come home and see my family, I forget everything, Khalil says. - That is LIKE a sweet taste.

Khalil and his family live in two small basement rooms. They are damp and unhealty. Condensing water drip fro the ceiling in the kitchen/sitting room.

Jenna (nearly one yers old) has respiratory problems because of the unhealthy conditions the family lives in. She needs medical treatment. That is expensive here in Palestine. Every month medicine and hospital hospital bills amount to 1500 shekels.

At 0.45 am, after two hours of sleep, I saw him preparing coffee and tea. At 1.30 we went to sell coffee and tea to the first workers who were queuing up in front of the turnstile at the Checkpoint. – They come at this time and have to wait until 4 am. Then they are allowed through.

From 1.30 until 8 am Kahlil sells from 20 to 50 cups of coffee. He buys the coffee for 25 shekels. His profit is consequently rarely more than 25 shekels, often much less. Deprivation of sleep makes him exhausted and leaves him with a constant headache, and he suffers chest problems because of the smoke he breathes in blowing the glowing coals in his coffee jar.

– Last Friday, I sold 20 cups. On a good day, I sell 50. On a good day, some give me 3 – 5 shekel, not the ordinary 1 shekel. Sometimes they give me nothing. That is no problem for me. If they say ‘I don’t have money’, I give him the coffee for free.

At 0.30 am, Khalil's wife puts the kettle on to prepare today's coffee and tea. While he is waiting he thanks God and reads the holly Koran.

At 0.45 am, Khalil prepares the cofffee and tea. He spends 20-25 shekel on the ingredeients, but he wants to make good coffee for his customers.

Here is Khalil at the checkpoint selling coffee to the workers who have been queueing since 1.30 waiting to be let through the turnstile at 4 am.

Kahlil constantly blows the coal in the tube of his jar to keep the coffee hot. This causes health problems.

At 8 am, after his coffee got too cold to sell I returned to his home to eat breakfast with him. – At home I give my family breakfast – my small and my big family. If my family needs something, I give it to them. His bigger family lives two houses away. It consists of mother, father, two brothers and two sisters and Grandmother.  If they need something, he must help them, too.

At 8 am Khalil returns to his home to eat breakfast. For a moment he can be a family man, but he cannot stay at home and return to bed for some hours of sleep he so desperately needs. The restaurant job is waiting.

After eight hours of work Khalil is very tired and it is tempting to return to bed. – When I come back my wife is usually in bed, and my bed asks me ’please come and sleep. But I can’t sleep. Only five minutes. Then I have go to the restaurant.

After eating breakfast with Khalil I notice how he plays with his daughter, gives 10 shekels of today’s profit to his wife for telephone money, and sets off to his second job at a chicken and chips restaurant. At 8.30 am he unlocks the door there, cleans the place and prepares for today’s activities.

At 8:30 am Khalil goes to his second job in a chicken and chips restaurant. He is trusted by his boss, but it is hard work. - It would be allright if I just had enough sleep, Kahlil says. I can return home at 4 pm if I am lucky.

The boss trusts me, but he wants me to do everything perfect. I am alone in the restaurant until 11.00. It is hard work. I finish at 4 pm. If the boss tells me to stay longer, I must go on until midnight. Then I have to start to make coffee and go to the checkpoint. Even it is good business for the restaurant, I don’t get much money. I only get 1500 NIS/month.

–  In school, I was very good, Khalil reveals. – I love school, but I could not finish school. My family could not help me. I loved being a student, but what could I do?

- I love my job, I love the people I meet, but life is very, very hard. It gives me a headache. If I only could sleep, Khalil says - still with a smile. .

Khalil has no big dream – I do not want big big money, I just want a normal life. A good life for me is to see my family more. Now I see them only two hours. I am longing for normal sleep. I want to take my family to see something, take them to the market, but I do not have time for that. I am working. Only working.

  • Namn: George Handal.
  • Adresse: Caritas Street, Bethlehem – (nær til den militære kontrollposten for bilar mellom Betlehem og Jerusalem).
  • Yrke: Pensjonert arabisklærar, eigar av jord som no er utan verdi.
  • Alder: 60. Kjenner seg eldre enn alderen sin.
  • Særlege kjenneteikn: Gjestfri, omsynsfull, forsiktig og heilstøypt mann som tenkjer før han talar og handlar.

Om du har besøkt Betlehem på Israel-turen din, kan du ha kasta blikket på huset til George. Det ligg i Betlehem på hovudvegen til Jerusalem berre 30 meter innanfor separasjonsbarrieren. Hundrevis av turistbussar passerer det kvar dag på veg til Fødselskyrkja og Shepherd’s Fields.

George i Betlehem, ved hovudevegen (og den militære kontrollosten for bilar) til Jerusalem. Dit kjem han ikkje meir.

– Om ein utlending ser meg, tenkjer han vel at eg er ein farleg mann, seier George roleg. Amerikanarar og europearar er redde for oss på grunn av bombing og flykapring som nokre få arabar driv på med. Media syter for den redsla. Dei som vitjar byen vår torer ofte ikkje å møte oss og sjå kven vi eigentleg er. George ver alvorleg og understrekar at han enkel mann som lev så rettvist han kan i respekt for andre menneske.

– Eg lagar ikkje trøbbel for nokon. Eg er interessert i nyhende og stemmer når det er val, men politikk held eg meg langt unna. Eg er ingen aktivist.

George er alt anna enn ein farleg mann. Om du ikkje har møtt han, har du gått glipp av eit møte med eit roleg, sindig og gjestfritt menneske. (Det veit eg for eg har delt hus med han i snart tre månader. Han er ein god husvert og tålmodig arabisklærar som hjelper meg og teamet vårt når vi treng det.) Bak det verdige og velbalanserte kunne du likevel ant ein herja mann som kjempar hardt for å halde livsmotet oppe. George kunne lært deg noko om kva okkupasjonen gjer med menneske som lev på feil side av muren.

Frå verandaen sin ser George muren og den militære kontrollposten som folk må passerere for å besøke og jobbe i Israel. Men dit kjem ikkje George seg.

George er 60 og er fødd i her Betlehem. Han er pensjonist no, men arbeidde som arabisk-lærar frå 1973 til 2000. Han er fødd inn i ein kristen familie og har fått ei kristen oppseding – Fram til 70-talet var Betlehem i all hovudskak ein kristen by, med nesten 90% kristne, fortel George – I oppveksten lærte me likevel korleis me skulle leve side om side med andre. No har dei fleste kristne emigrert på grunn av den vanskelege økonomiske situasjonen som okkupasjonen skaper. Prosentdelen kristne vert stadig lågare. (I 2007 var andelen 28% i nabobyane Betlehem, Beit Jala og Beit Sahor. Den vert stadig mindre.) Sjølv vil han ikkje emigrere. Alt han har lært gjennom livet dreier seg om å leve eit fredfullt og skikkeleg liv i kulturen han er fødd inn i.

Mange palestinarar har emigrert på grunn av strupingen av den palestinske økonomien. Mur og sperringar er nokre av problema. Her er buret som folk på veg til Jerusalem må gjennom sett frå George sin veranda.

George lærte av foreldra sine å leve eit anstendig liv, å ta vare på familien sin og utvikle dei talenta verdiane han har fått. – Eg har aldri vore til bry for nokon og har aldri hatt fiendar, korkje kristne, jødar eller muslimar, seier George.

– Eg er oppdregen til å vere høfleg og ta omsyn til andre og eg har prøvd å leve på det viset. – No har eg lært sonen min og dei to døtrene mine dei same verdiane.

Mannen du kunne ha slått av ein prat med (om turoperatøren ga deg høve til å møte ’vanlege’ palestinarar) kunne ha gjeve deg innsyn i korleis mangelen på fridom herjar med dei. For George lev heile tida med ei kjensle av å vere fengsel. Denne konstante mentale påkjenninga gjer at han kjenner seg isolert, gammal og sliten. George er i utgangspunktet ein mann med pågangsmot og hug til å utvikle eigedommen sin. Men George ser inn i denne muren kvar dag og er heile tida minna på at han ikkje har fridom. Og når han ser ut, ser han den øydelagde eigedommen sin og vert minna på verdiane han har mista.

- Før hadde eg ein verdifull eigedom der me mellom anna dyrka oliven. No har eg nesten ingen tre att og må kjøpe olivenolje på butikken, fortel George.

– Muren øydelegg oss økonomisk, av di den gjer at eigedommane våre ikkje lenger har nokon verdi. Ingen vil kjøpe eigedom som ein ikkje kan utvikle eller bygge hus på. All eigedom ved separasjonsbarrieren er klassifisert som område C, område som Israel har full kontroll over. Soldatar kan gå inn i huset mitt når som helt og ta stilling på taket mitt om dei finn det for godt ut frå såkalla sikkerheitsmessige omsyn. Eg har ikkje tilgang til eigedommen min bak muren. Der dyrka eg tidlegare store mengder oliven. No må me sjølv kjøpe olivenolje i butikken.

George Handal er framleis eigar av den 15 hektar stor eigedomen som delvis ligg inne i Israel. Dit kjem han ikkje. Eigedommen, som ligg på hovudvegen mellom Betlehem og Jerusalem var verd millionar. No har han mista all verdien sin.  – Om eg skulle selje han, ville det sannsynlegvis vore ein busettar som hadde kjøpt han. Det hadde eg ikkje makta å leve med, seier George. – Det hadde vore vanskeleg for alle oss arabarar her i Betlehem.

- Før var eigendommen min på 20 dekar verd millionar. No er han ingenting verd. Eg kan ikkje ei gong dra til han, der han ligg bak muren bak oss, seier George.

–        Når eg ser ut på muren gjer det noko med meg psykologisk. Den er ein konstant stressfaktor som heile tida minnar meg på at det finst ikkje finst fridom for meg i landet vårt. Blikket til George, som så ofte ar sett oppmuntrande på meg når eg snublar i arabiske gloser, verkar nesten tomt no.

- Eg er ein mann so ikkje skapar trøbbel for nokon, fortel George. Mange folk er redd for slike som meg. Kanskje dei trur vi alle er terroristar i Palestina.

–  I dag prøvde eg å skaffe meg eit magnetisk identitetskort, fortel George meg. Med det kunne eg kanskje få løyve til å passere sperringa og vitje Jerusalem, Tiberias og andre stader som er heilage for oss kristne. Men på kontoret der dei utferder slike kort, let dei meg berre vente. Heile dagen. Eg betale 100 Shekel , fekk beskjed om å kome att neste veke, men fekk ingen kort. Eg trur ikkje at eg nokon gong får det. Dei eig ikkje respekt for nokon.

– Om muren ikkje fanst og Palestina ikkje var okkupert meir ville eg sjølvsagt vere lukkeleg. Eg ville reise og feire at eg har fridom til å dra dit eg vil. Slutten på okkupasjonen ville bety at eg kunne utvikle eigedommen min, byggje hotell på han kanskje. Slik kunne eg syte for mi eiga og familien min si framtid.

– Om mur og okkupasjon ikkje fanst meir kunne bestemme over min eigen lagnad. Eg ville få ny styrke og eg er viss på at eg ville få lagt mange år til livet mitt.

Følg godt med når du dreg til det heilage landet neste gong. Kanskje møter du kloke menneske som kan endre synet ditt  på Palestina, på Israel, på verda og på deg sjølv.

Onsdag var eg på besøk midt i Gush Etzion block, der blant anna den palestinske landsbyen Khallet Sakiariya ligg inneklemt. Der er også jorda til mange familiar frå den litt større landsbyen Artas. Begge landsbyane er ein del av Bethlehem storkommune. Dette er ettertrakta jord. Her vil busettarar kare til seg land – for eiga vinning og som middel for å realisere den sionistiske draumen om eit Storisrael (Eretz Irael).

Den lokale kontaktpersonen frå Artas, Muhammed Adu-Sway, represntantar frå FN sitt kontor for humaniære sakre (UN OCHA) og to ledsagarar frå Betlehem-teamet var på befaring til eit jordstykkje som er arena of kriminelle handlingar.

Saman såg me eit jordstykke på ca 20 dekar som tydeleggjer kampen om jord her i Palestina. Jorda er eigd av søskenparet Fathima og Jamal Samad. Dei har skøyte på jordstykket sitt og dokumentet er kjent gyldig av den israelske staten.

Me såg på jordstykkjet til Fathima og Jamal Samad. Her var det nyplanta gamle og nye oliventre, nedrivne gjerder, brente hus og jødiske minnesmerke.

1) Eit hus som var brukt av eigarane under planting og innhausting vart brend av busettarar i april 2011. På grunn av lang reiseveg mellom landsbyen og jordstykkja er det vanleg med små hus der ein kan sove og lage mat når arbeidsdagen vert lang.

Eit hus som vart brukt av jordeigarane i travle tider - vart brent i april 2011. Her er restar av inventaret.

2) Eit jødisk minnesmerke er reist – og staden er gjort til pilgrimsstad på jødiske heilagdagar. (Dette har skjedd mange stader i området – ofte er påstandane om at staden her av historisk/bibelsk interesse dårleg fundert.) På slike dagar er heile området utilgjengeleg for dei palestinske jordeigarane. Minnesmerket er også eit stoppunkt på ei  ein sykkelsti som kan nyttast av busettarar og israelske turistar. I andre enden av jordstykket er det sett opp to benkar med ein plakett med nasjonalistisk innhald:  Shalam al Yisrael. You are forever in our hearts.

Med Israel i våre hjerter - på palestinsk jord. Alle lags knep er tekne i bruk for å gjere hevd på andre folk si jord.

3) Like ved sidan av det nedbrente huset har det vorte planta 5 gamle oliventre. Dei vart planta av busettaren Nadia Matar og medhjelparane hennes midt på natta den 27. oktober. Soldatar frå det israelske militæret beskytta plantinga. Høgst sannsynleg hadde nettopp desse oliventrea vorte røska opp med rot og jordklump i landsbyen Al Walaja for nokre veker sidan. Ledsagarar frå teamet mitt tok bilete då israelske gravemaskinar røska opp dei gamle oliventrea med rot og køyrde dei vekk på lastebilar. Trea vart fjerna for å gje plass til separasjon barrieren (den berømte ’Muren1) som er i ferd med å omringe heile landsbyen. Familien som eigde trea satt att utan levebrød. Den vesle olivenlunden var livsgrunnlaget deira.

4) Resten av området var nydyrka. Her var over 100 oliventre planta. Delar av plantefeltet var dedisert til minnet om Bar Mitzwa til ein busettarfamilie si dotter. Dei nyplanta trea har ein kort, men hektisk historie.

Nokre av oliventra er planta som inne om ei busettarjente sin Bar Mitzwa. (Kan eg plante eit tre hjå naboen og lage ein plakett om at treet er dedisert til sonen min sin kofirmasjon?)

Før dramaet tok til, hadde eigarane av jordstykket fjerna gamle vinranker for å plante nytt på jorda si.

2. august nytta Nadia Matar, som er engasejrt i den sionistiske organisasjonen Women in Green, høvet 2. august til åplante 40 oliventre på Fathima og Jamal si jord.

3. august riv eigarane trea opp att.

3. august om kvelden vert trea planta for andre gong av Nadia Matar og medhjelparane hennar.

12. august vert dei små oliventrea fjerna av eigarane av jorda.

15. august vert trea planta for tredje gongen og 45 nye oliventreplanter vert sett i jorda.

27. august riv jordeigarane dei framande plantene opp av jorda si.

12. september vert dei 85 oliventrea plant for fjerde gongen av Nadia Matar og hjelparane hennar.

20. september vert dei fjerna av jordeigarane.

28. oktober fekk Nadia Bandak medhjelparane sine frå nabobusettinga til å rive ned 220 meter med gjerde som beskytta jordstykket, plante 6 game oliventre og plante dei 85 nye oliventrea for femte gongen.

Her er 6 gamle oliventre med jordklump nyplanta. Trea sto tidlegare i olivenlunden til ein fattig familie i Al Walaja og måtte vike plassen for spearasjonsbarrieren som vert bygd rundt landsbyen.

6. november Fatima drog Fathima til den næraste israelske politistasjonen og meldte forholdet

7. november kom det israelske politiet og tok med jordeigarane og Nadia Matak til politistasjonen. Der måtte begge partane signere at dei ikkje ville returnere til Fathima og Jamal sin eigedom på 15 dagar. No er striden vorte eit rettsoppgjer.

Sjeldan vert busttarar dømt for sine ulovlege handlingar.

Nadia Matar er busettaren som planta oliventre, brede hus og reiv gjerder på andre folk sin eigedom. Korkje dei eller nadia har lov til å ferdast på eigedommen no. Likevel kom ho susande for å ta bilete av oss. Av di eg er treg på avtrekkeren, fekk eg berre bakenden til bilen hennar med.


Palestinarar vert hindra i å dyrke eiga jord eige ved område blir konfiskert vert konfiskert og religiøse og kulturelle minnesmerke vert reiste. Minnesmerka (ofte med særs diskutabel historisk tilknyting)  vert til jødiske samlingspunkt ved høgtider. og då syter soldatar for at ingen palestinarar forstyrrar herrefolket.

Palestinarar vert også forsøkt fordrivne  ved å brenne hus, øydelegge gjerder og ta tre opp med rota. Israelske busettarar tek ganske enkelt over område ved å plante nye tre og si – Dette er vårt – sjå trea våre. Ofte vert det planta gamle oliventre. Då kan busettarane si: ‘This land is our land – This land is old land’. Dette området har i lengre tid vorte drive av oss. Sjå berre dei gamle trea her..

I dette området er det (sjølvsagt) umogeleg for palestinarar og bygge nytt, vøle uthus og eigedom og bygge infrastruktur for å legge til rette for eige jordbruk.


Som representanten for FN sitt kontor for koordinering av humanitære saker (UN OCHA) sa det; – Settlers uphold the pressure on Palestinians living there. They attempt to push Palestinians away to prevent expansion of Palestinian land. Illegal actions like uprroting of trees, buring of houses and planting treeees on other people’s land are done with the protection from the Israeli military.

Det meir pragmatiske siktemålet med konfiskering og fortrenging er å binde saman dei 11 busetnadene som Gush Etzion består av og lage eit samanhengande område utan palestinarar og palestinskeigd jord. Hindringa er palestinarar som har gyldig skøyte på jorda si. Og hindringa er palestinarar som driv jorda si for å livberge seg og for å halde slektsjorda i hevd.

Siktemålet er å binde busetnadene saman til ein sotr Gushh Etzion-blokk. Då vert landet ein integret del av den sionistiske draumen - og isrtaelarar kan sykle fritt og nyte natur og jødisk historie utan innblading frå palestinarar - som eig jorda.

Gledeleg Eid!

Posted: November 5, 2011 in Uncategorized

Forventning og glede ligg tjukt over gater, marknader og butikkar. Ungar virrar omkring berusa av det som skal kome – som femåringar på julaftanmorgon. Det er køar av folk overalt og stor trengsle framfor kjøtbutikkar og grønsaksboder.

I handlegater på heile Vestbreidda - som her i gamlebyen i Jerusalem er det ekstra trangt når folk handlar til Eid

På morgonturen min til Haram Ash-Harif (Tempelplassen) i Jerusalem var det den vanlege køa av ortodokse jødar på veg til og frå Vestmuren (Klagemuren). Det var òg ein straum av kvinner som handla sjokolade og klede som skal gjevast bort i morgon.

På kveldsturen min i dag gjennom Betlehem sentrum måtte eg trengje meg mellom handleposar og glade muslimar, feilparkerte bilar, trafikkpoliti og tut- og køyrande som prøvde å finne parkeringsplass så nær handlegatene som mogeleg.

Eg tur dette er ei geit som skal bli Eid-måltid

.. og det skal handlast frukt og grønnsaker. Her frå Aust Jerusalem med den gamle bymuren i bakgrunnen.

No søtti dagart etter Ramadan vert Eid al Adha feira for å minnast Abraham/Ibrahim (stamfra til muslimar, jødar og kristne tillike) var viljug til å ofre sonen Ismail, etter ordre frå Gud. Slik eg kan minnast frå ei liknande soge eg høyrte på søndagsskulen, sendte Gud ein mekrande vær i staden, slik at den lydige faren slapp å slakte sonen sin. Difor er prisane på saue- og geitekjøt høge for tida. Og difor fastar truande muslimar denne dagen for å gjere seg klar til (fåre)kjøtgrytene i morgon. Difor gjev muslimske familiar gåver til kvarande og difor gleder seg i lag dei tre dagane festen varer. Skulane har fri ei heil veke (og vi har relativt lette dagar framfor oss utan monitorering av militære sjekkpostar – ingen er av stad til Jerusalam på jobb på ei lita stund.

Abraham/Ibrahim ofrar Isak/Ismael. Legg merke til det alternative offeret til venstre.

Mange eg har snakka med i dag fortel om den spesielle festen og forklarar kvifor dei feirar han. Mange seier rett nok at dei er 50/50 happy. No for tida er ting så dyrt, seier dei. Mange har ikkje råd til korkje gåver eller kjøt. Det var betre før, kan dei minnast. Før den palestinske staten flådde dei med skattar. (Som folk lurar på kvar vert av. Staten sine inntekter er vanskeleg for folk flest å augne i betre helsestell, god skule eller brukbare vegar).

Godteri til festen -- God Eid!

Likevel – slik Abbas sin tale til FN for nokre veker sidan og fangeutvekslinga for litt sidan, er Eid ein fest som kan få folk til å tenkje på anna enn okkupasjon og harde tider. Det er smil i travle handleandlet. Og bilistane si tuting har noko festaktig over seg. Gløymte eg å si at denne dagen kjentes som vesle julaftan i travle handlestrok i gamlelandet (Norge)?

God Eid 

P.S. På veg gjennom flyktningleiren Azzeh i Betlehem søndag var det fleire folk i gata enn vanleg. Store høgtalarar spreidde dansemusik og unge gutar dansa. Eg vart òg dregen inn i ringdansen og gjorde så godt eg kunne med fotarbeidet mitt. Glade og inviterande andlet gjorde det lett å kjenne seg som ein del av gleda. Plutseleg ser eg eit bakhovud mellom beina mine og eg vert lyfta opp i veret. Ei stund er eg ein del av ei lita pyramide som feirar Eid her i Palestina. Etter bilettaking og glade tilrop, kjenner nok den unge guten at børa hans er litt for tung og eg vert sett ned på gateplanet att.

Eg vart dregen inn i EId-feiringa I Azzeh-leiren i Betlehem. Eg gjev kameraet mitt til ein med-dansande.Welcome to Palestine - Happy Eid!!

Mohammed på 16, som eg var på veg for å vitje, såg det opptrinnet frå verandaen sin. Me ønskjer kvarandre God Eid. Han gleder seg over at eg vart gjort stas på. Familien hans hadde ikkje råd til kjøt dette året… D.S.

Vestbanken er ikkje berre trist med slit, urettvise, undertrykking og fæle ting. Eg vonar at blogginlegga mine viser det. Den er òg  vakre landskap, trivelege byar, varme menneske, glede, livsgnist, smil og ein evne til å leve på trass. Eg vil gjerne dele nokre bilete frå landsbyen Nahalin ved Betlehem (900 meter over havet) og frå Jeriko som 260 meter under havoverflata er verdas lågast liggande by. Dessutan er han verdas eldste (over 10.000 år gammal).

The West Bank is far from mere misery. I hope my previous blog posts reflect this. In spite of the occupation and oppression, people are warm, friendly and with a wonderful sense of humour. The landscape is stunning, villages and towns are charming. I will share some pictures from Nahalin (900 meters above sea level) and Jericho (260 meters under sea level). This city is the world’s oldest, dating from more than 10.000 years ago. (Do people think of trumpets when the walk around in the lush and friendly town?..)


West Bank is also stunnning lndscapes. Here above Nahalin (pop 7000) - on of the Bethlehem villages.

One of the wedding parties is for men and women separately. Here a visitor is warmly welcomed by the groom and the village. He has to dance with the men and it is great to see him struggle with the steps (not shown in this picuture..)

Typical conversation: -Where are you from? -Norway. -Oh, welcome to Palestine. Friday night is the night out for boys. Here is a pool cafè in Nahalin.


On Fridays there is no school. Here is a lad resting on the platform of his father's service taxi in the centre of Jericho.

Frtidays is a great evening for young men to meet in Jericho as well to drink tea and smoke water pipe.

Stunning landscapes in Jerico. Here is St Georges monasatary carved out from the desert mountain slopes.

Teaching by the gun

Posted: October 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

On my blog one month ago, I wrote that EAPPI team had to go to the village of Tuqu’ because of soldiers harassing school kids on the way to school. Morning visits to this village have been a regular task for our EAPPI team since then.

At 7:15 hundred of kids are on the way to Tuqu's elementary school, the boys' secondary school and the girl's secondary school.

Three of its schools are close to a road used by Israeli settlers, and during our sessions of protective presence in Tuqu’, soldiers have told they are there because children have thrown stones at settler cars. Consequently the Israeli army have to flex their muscles. – We are here to create peace. We must protect our citizens from these kids, a soldier told me a couple of seeks ago. We must be strong. We can only create freedom by protecting it.

Soldiers - and guns - are present on the school kids' way to and from school - every day.On the other side of the fence is a road used by Israeli settlers. Israeli armed forces flex their muscles to protect its users.

It reported that students of the boy school have been arrested by the Israeli soldiers in night raids and that several have been killed, the last one as late as September 13, 2008. Five 11th graders who volunteered to be interviewed in the principal’s office categorically denied that children on the way to or from school would resort to stone throwing. – They are too afraid to do any of that sort.

What learning does the barrel of the gun promote to 5 year olds - or to 18 year olds when it is part of every day school experience?

I showed the small group of 16-year-olds the picture of the gun and of the children who pass the barrel of such guns every day.-  What children feel when the pass the soldiers on their way to school is fear, the group agreed. – We also feel sorry that the occupation hinder us from attaining our goals in life, and we feel angry with the soldiers who stop us. But we are mainly scared. Of them and their gun.

– When we see the soldiers, Abdallah and Hamzasalem admit, we get a bad feeling, because we are sorry for our own future. Maybe we will not be able to go outside or lead a normal life. – Please tell young people in your country that we want to have freedom like them. And ask them to try to help us get this.

Mohammad Al Badan (16), Mohammad Abu M'freh (16), Mohammad AlShaer (16), Hamzallem Sebreen (16) and Abdalah Adel (16) volunteered to be interviewed about soldiers, guns and Palestine.

Three Mohammads were also part of the volunteering interviewees from the11th grade. – We are used to seeing the soldiers every day, and it has become part of our life, they agreed. – We have of course noticed that some have eyes that seem more kind. The soldiers are not the same; some make us feel a little less scared.

On one of the Tuqu’ school watch mornings one of the soldiers on duty this morning asked me what EAPPI stands for. I explained briefly about the accompaniment programme, and he responded that it sounded very interesting. When I asked the young soldier how he about felt pointing his gun at school kids every morning, he simply told that he felt bad. He acknowledged that it was a wrong thing to do, but he couldn’t speak openly about it there and then. – Please e-mail me your pictures, and you can ask me questions then.

After returning back to Bethlehem from this village of 12.000 people, the crowded classrooms of the boy’s secondary school (It is now in area C and has no possibility of expansion) and hundreds of ‘good morning’, ‘what’s your name’ and ‘how are you’, I am pondering on what the children here actually learn from their school experience.

The boy's secondary school is crowded. It is in area C and Israel does not grant permission to extend the school despite its needs.

I am thinking that students all ovber the world learn from books, from peers and even from teachers. I realize that there is something called the hidden curriculum that socialize students into obedience and respect for authority. In Tuqu’ disciplining measures are not hidden. The instrument is the gun and it is held very visibly in the hands of soldiers who are children themselves.

Lift your right leg: In school there are many activities to teach you important lessons. Learning how to fear not one of them.

Eg har småsår på hendene og kink i brystmuskelen etter å ha klatra i oliventre, saga greiner og plukka små grønne/blå/blågrønne olivenfrukter i Yanoun. Likevel er dette blogginnlegget nesten berre triveleg. Eg er nemleg  ein av 2 millionar palestinarar som med fryd er ute og plukkar oliven desse dagane.

Det er oktober og som frå uminnelege tider er det er tid for å plukke oliven i Palestina

På reisa mi mellom Betlehem og mot Nablus såg eg hundrevis av familiar som flokka seg rundt oliventre. Presenningar var spreidde rundt trea der olivenfruktene vart samla opp. Olivenfruktene vert rista, plukka og raka ned. Nokre greiner vert sagde ned – og folk set seg ende ned og plukkar dei oljefylte fruktene utan å korkje strekkje seg eller klatre.

EAPPI-kooega Emma og Tamam frå Yanoun plukkar oliven frå ei grein eg har saga ned

No og då set familiane seg under trea og nyt søt te og enkle måltid som inkluderer humus, sylta oliven og flatt brød. Dei riv av bitar frå dei store leivane, og dypper i felles fat (nett som i andre fellesskapsmåltid me kjenner)

Med hjelp av Zoudhi (11) rekk Jan Egil (50) greiner høgare opp

Det er fest. Det er fellesskap med familie. Og familien inkluderer oliventrea her i Palestina. Mange har sagt meg at eit oliventre er som ein son. Kanskje burde ein si bestefar – av di mange av oliventrea er særs gamle. Eg hadde æra av å helse på eitt som var 2000 år gamalt mellom øvre og nedre Yanoun – to små landsbyar som ligg nokre kilometer frå Nablus, den nest største byen på Vestbreidda.

Dette oliven-treet er gammalt, men ikkje 2000 år som gamle bestefar

Men her er andletet til den 2000 år gamle vise

Yanoun er liten. Berre om lag 100 innbyggarar. Av dei er det 5 internasjonale– som alle er kollegaer frå EAPPI. Etter at busettarar frå Itarem-busettinga jaga alle landsybuarane vekk i 2002 har det vore konstant internasjonalt nærvære her. Utan det hadde det ikkje vore mogeleg for palestinarar å bu i denne landsbyen. Men  no er det folk i halvparten av husa her. Og geiter og sauer vert førte til markene kvar dag. Og det er liv i olivenlundane i oktober.

Yanoun har busetjar-utpostar på tre sider - med vakttårn og lys..

Til no har bloggane mine handla om murar mellom menneske, øydelegging av eigedom og mangel på tillit mellom menneskegrupper. Denne bloggen handlar om glede og fellesskap. Og den handlar om deltaking i ei rite som strekkjer seg langt attende i tida. Særs langt. Kollegene mine tek del i olivenplukking i dei fleste av dei 7 stadene der EAPPI har eit team. Og me skriv om opplevingane på bloggar, på facebook og i artiklar som blir spreidde over heile verda. – Dette er noko av det eg saknar frå Palestina, kommenterte ein plaestins facebok-ven i Norge då eg skreiv om klatring, plukking og fellesskap der.

Ungane er med, og plukker når dei har lyst. Her sit Zudhi, Hammod og Abud saman med EAPPI-Marthie frå Sør-Afrika ved eitt av familiens oliventre med eit vakttårn i bakgrunnen.

P.S. Det var fredeleg i Yanoun då eg vitja landsbyen. Dagen etter kom det tre grupper med busetjarar. Dei hadde våpen og hadde ingen anna grunn til å vere der enn skremme bebuarane. Som dei har gjort så ofte får. D.S.

Devastation and dignity

Posted: October 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

At 5 in the morning, when most of the villagers were still asleep, another house was demolished in the West Bank. This time it was the house, and the dream of Nasar Aldeen Elyan (50) that was crushed.

– We are a family of 13 including one child with a multi handicap. Two of his brothers are deaf. I have altogether 10 kids with my two wives. My dream was to bring all 13 family members under one roof in our new house. The house was nearly finished, and we were about to move in.

- My new house and my dreams were crushed this morning, Nasar explains.

Yet another dream crushed

– The soldiers came when I was in the mosque for prayers. There were 18 jeeps with 50-70 soldiers. The convoy came quietly in order to avoid unwanted attention and violent reactions from villagers. The soldiers effectively secured the area to let the bulldozer do its devastating work.

– I was watching from a distance, Nasar tells us. I kept myself busy comforting my children. It may be good that I couldn’t enter the destruction site, as I would not be able to refrain from violence. The demolition was a deliberate action to end my dream and the good future prospect for my family. I couldn’t have kept myself from defending my property.

The picture from Maan News 10.10 of the demolition at Al Jaba

The site

The rubbles of Nasar’s house lie on a site with a breathtaking view towards Hebron. From his house he would be able to have a perfect overview of his olive groves and the main road to Tel Aviv.

– Why they chose to tear this house down, I don’t know. It is 15 years since they demolished a house in this village. Perhaps they fear that members of my family would throw stones at the Israelis who use the road 300 meters below the house, Nasar suggests. But it is not we who are the terrorists. It is the Israelis who come up with new laws as it pleases them. For them, the law is any of their young soldiers, because they hold the gun.

The documents produced for the court case

No demolition order

– I received no demolition order, but the Israeli soldiers came once with an order to stop building. I was applying for a permit to continue building and had provided the authorities with all necessary documents. That has cost me over 2000 shekel (NOK 3000+) and numerous visits to their office. – This isn’t good enough, come back next week; The picture is not good, you must bring three copies of the documents.. They make the rules, and the rules change all the time, Nasar explains.

He has some knowledge of rules, especially as concerns property. He has studied real estate and finance, and has spent 10 years in the US selling homes to others. There were rules and regulations there, Nasir reminds us, but here, the smallest of soldiers can change the rules, They are the law, because they have the guns.

Here is Nasar with three of his sons; Hussein (17), Abdul Rahmed (14) and Yousef (3)

The owner, his family and his hospitability

We also met the owner who appeared to be calm and self composed despite of the catastrophe that has just hit him and his family. – Of course I lost every penny I had, even lots of money I have borrowed, Nasar admits. But such things happens in our country. We are treated as less valuable than animals. Even worse than this demolition is how my sons have been treated as they work on  the fields down here. One of my sons, Mohammed, is 15. He was beaten until he confessed that he had threatened the Israelis soldiers. He had to serve 6 months in jail after because of the crime he had not done.

Nasar showed the EAPPI team the village and the views

Destruction and dignity

The unexpected part of this visit was the hospitability that Nasar and his wife showed our team. There was tea in his rented small house. There was a walk around the village and its spectacular view. We were shown his father’s house and the family’s fields. After sunset there was a delicious dinner that Nasar’s wife had prepared. The finale of this visit was not one of destruction and devastation. It was a statement of dignity and a beginning of a relationship.

The finale of the visit to a man who just has lost his home

ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions) estimates that some 24,813 Palestinian structures have been demolished in the Occupied Territories from 1967 until August 2010, based on information gleaned from the Israeli Ministry of Interior, the Jerusalem Municipality, the Civil Administration, PCHR, OCHA and other UN sources, Palestinian & Israeli human rights groups, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, our field work and other sources.

Read the rest of this entry »

A village of bachelors

Posted: October 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

Mohammed Dawud is 22 and ready to start his own life. Now he lives with his brother and 5 sisters in the family home, and feels ready to get more freedom. Unfortunately, Mohammed was born in An Numan, a village included in Greater Jerusalem in 1967. This means that there is no chance for him to obtain a permit from the Israeli authorities to build a house in his own village. No such permission is ever given to any of the villagers here. Without a house he will not be able to bring a wife to his own home. The tradition in his village is that young men start the plan to build a house after finishing school. As soon as they earn some money, they start to build. Then the young man’s sisters and mother will help him find a suitable wife. (The young man may ask them to search another wife if their choice is not suitable, but they often come up with ‘the right one’, Mohammed explains.) Mohammed wants to settle here in An Numan, the village of his forefathers. –  I don’t want to leave my place to see it replaced by an Israeli, he states. The political situation in his village and his strong will to remain there means that Mohammed’s dream of settling down with house and family will remain an impossible dream.

Mohammed (22) with the rubbles of his brother's demolished house. It was demolished in December 2010, and he does not want to see his dreams crushed this way.

I do not dare to build a house without permission, Mohammed reveals. When I see the demolished house of my brother, I will not attempt to follow my dreams.

Mohammad has finished his studies of Geography in Al Quds University. There are many girls there, but I do not want to search for any future wife there. I want to follow the tradition of my village. – I think it will only make problems for you if you marry a woman from other places. Perhaps the ideas of their family are different from the customs of your own family.

If a local boy wants to find a wife from another village on the West Bank, he has to move out from An Numan. Only registered villagers can enter through the checkpoint down here. Any girlfriend or new wife will not get a permission to come here.

No entry. Through this ceckpoint, only the 200 registered villagers of An Numan can enter. No girl frind visits from other West Bank villages - no new wives..

An Numan has the highest number of educated people in any village of the West Bank, it is claimed. – My dream is to continue my studies, get a job and settle in my own house and start a family, Mohammed admits. – I love my village. It is good place to grow up. The 200 villagers all know each other. But the situation in my village is terrible now. We are included in Jerusalem, but we do not hold a Jerusalem ID. This makes us illegal in our own village. – I know it is hard for others to understand. It doesn’t make sense to us either.

Do you have a message to the readers of my blog, I ask Mohammed as I am about to head for the checkpoint and go back home. – You can tell it is OK if they have many girl friends and do things the way I see in Hollywood films. I want to live a simple life in my village and keep the traditional way of life, the 22-year-old bachelor says.

An Numan is the perfect place to live for Mohammed. The nearby settlement is eager to grab its land and the State of Israle makes it next-to-impossible to live there for its vilagers.


P.S. As I went to An numan to meet Mohammed I was denied access to his village. – No, No; this is strictly  for the registered residents, the soldier in the ID booth claimed. – Is’nt this Jerusalem, I asked with a smile. He showed me a thick book and told me, with an indifferent mine that the village is on the green line. I will come back with an explanation in later blogs. However, after two callse with his commander, the young man signalled I could go through the metal detector and enter the village of 200 imprisoned people..