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Mira Nabulsi, Zajel, An-Najah University, Nablus, 29 August 2006
In Palestine the first thing you do in the early morning is turn on local TV’s, radios, websites and newspapers. What’s the latest news? Any invasions? Is it safe to go to work? Another ordinary day or another ordinary day?! The first common event is to have an Israeli invasion in the city, while the second is to wake up quietly and anticipate an invasion later in the afternoon or evening!
Today it was the house of a dear friend of mine that was targeted. I woke up to hear the news reported everywhere. I felt a bit different as I knew the building well. Perhaps the fact that I knew it and its people made the usual Israeli excuse together with the expected conclusion of this day, a bit harder to digest this time.
The story started on Saturday at dawn. Inhabitants of the Lubaddeh building woke up in a panic, as many others in Nablus often do, at 2:15 am. The Israeli occupation forces invaded the area and started their activities; no body knew what the target was this time, they could only hear the loudspeakers as Israeli soldiers shouted at them, ordering them to evacuate the building. In less than five minutes all the inhabitants, families, lots of kids, women and old people had come down.
When the families had all appeared, the soldiers started calling two names over the loudspeaker: “Sufyan and Ameen. Come down, you are surrounded.” Sufyan Qandeel and Ameen Lubadeh, the two young men the occupation forces claim they want, were according to them hiding inside the residential building. The soldiers didn’t enter it to conduct a house-to-house search as was expected. Instead a huge bulldozer showed up on the spot and started to destroy one of the walls of the building. The inhabitants who were held there started yelling desperately in protest: “Criminals…stop this…Allahu Akbar…Allahu Akbar (Allah is the mightiest)”, but the bulldozers continued their work under the cover of heavy shooting.
The inhabitants were later forced into a neighboring building and over 100 people were kept hostage for hours. Another neighboring house of the Masri family was used as an interrogation facility. Those who were forced into the building for interrogation were stunned by the equipment the Israelis had accommodated within the house – computers, maps and other materials. Approximately 7 people of the Lubaddeh building were interrogated and several old men aged over 65 were also kept for questioning, as the occupation forces tried to elicit a piece of information nobody had.
Later, in the early hours of that morning a digger was also brought to the area. It was kept working for over twelve hours, and although the building proved to be empty the destruction was continued deliberately, proving only what most Palestinians already know – that the occupation needs no excuse to commit daily crimes. Deliberate brutalities take place regardless of whether there is any justification and vicious actions don’t stop there. The nearby school overlooking the building was used as a military barracks, as snipers spread all around it and started shooting randomly at citizens of the area, including some kids throwing stones at their vehicles. Apparently this is the ‘self-defense’ the Israeli army repeatedly mentions. Only the stone throwers were injured, all of them kids Â– none of them exceeding the age of 18. One teenager was killed and 18 others were injured, while another 4-5 people were arrested – all of them minors who were present in the area.
The unjustified operation continued into the late hours of the afternoon and just when people started to think the operation would slow down, inhabitants of all the other buildings in the vicinity were asked to evacuate over loudspeakers. Everything suggested the Israelis would blow up the whole building, as calls were made to the other two houses connected to it (also belonging to members of Lubaddeh family). They were burnt to the ground and all the belongings inside them, including furniture, electrical equipments, clothes and even canary birds, were either damaged or destroyed.
The final result of the day: the big building was demolished with no possible hope of restoration, 20 flats were smashed, several neighboring shops and buildings were partially damaged, 8 cars fully destroyed, 18 families were made homeless, and over 125 people are now waiting for material and moral compensation for the lost dreams, lost hopes and most importantly lost memories of a place where so many people were born, raised and have lived happier days among beloved ones.
The tragedy of the scene wasn’t only the sight of bulldozers demolishing the place, men holding back their tears, or women and children grieving but the sight of every single person looking for something to remember under the rubbles. Minutes after the Israeli jeeps left the place, people rushed to the site even though the vehicles were just a few meters away. They started rushing to their beloved homes while soldiers were observing from a couple of blocks away. Just as people had watched the army ruining their houses stone by stone… the soldiers now watched them return to pick up clothes, books, photo albums, toys, sports medals and trophies… memories, piece by piece.
Each inhabitant carries a different tale, but all have one common story, the story of the hard work that enabled parents to build this big family house in which to gather their sons, cousins and grandchildren. Years of work destroyed in just a few hours. It is a familiar story in this country, although for sure that doesn’t make it accepted, and until the world opens an eye, listens with at least one ear or cares with a single tear this day will remain just like any other – a normal day in Palestine.
For pictures of the scale of the destruction please see the An-Najah University Zajel site