Thursday, January 31, 2008
Another day in Palestine/ Un autre jour en Palestine
(c) Anne Paq/Activestills.org. Demolition of a building in Shufat and funerals after the military invasion of Bethlehem, 28 and 29 January 2008.
Une journee en Palestine/ A day in Palestine.
Dans la meme journee, demolition de maison le matin a Shufat et invasion militaire de Bethlehem l'apres midi.
Here I am back home and I am still trying to make a sense of this day but I definitly cannot.
A typical day in Palestine. Soldiers, demolitions; checkpoints; military invasions, clashes; bullets, sound bombs; stones throwing; death; new demolitions. And in between some joke,s laughs; good food and small talks. At the end of the day, you feel reckless and confused because you had been through so many emotions. I have too many pictures, mud on my pants and I cannot focus on any thought. How did it start? My day started as usual until I got a message on my phone warning me about a house demolition in Shufat, next to Jerusalem. It is something I document so I went and dropped all other plans. As I reached the site there were many soldiers around and they prevented me to go close without any justification. I managed to go around and ended up in somebody’s appartement with a perfect view on the spot to see the monsterous Caterpillar mouth eating another Palestinian building, one of its favourites. It felt awful to watch that show for three hours, and it was not over when I left. That building is the home of five families. Two floors will be destroyed. People were gathering around and watched, including kids and against witnessing another brutal act of the occupyier.
I went back to Bethlehem; and I thought I took enough photographs for the day. But there is always more here. And it is draining. As I passed the checkpoint, I saw five military jeeps entering Bethlehem; which is quite unusual in the middle of the day so I knew something was up. I went to work anyway, and then after one hour I was interrupted by a phone call of a journalist friend telling me that the Israeli army was actually in the middle of Bethlehem with a bulldozer. They wanted to arrest somebody, a militant from Islamic Jihad. It was obvious that some clashes would occur with the young Palestinians from the city. I had to take another card as mine was full with the ones of the house demolition from the morning. I jumped into a taxi and went to the street where the army was in position. There was one jeep blocking the street and a truck with the Israeli flag. I went around and found the young Palestinians throwing stones; doing all over again the same deadly game with the soldiers. The soldiers are far, they are all fully protected and still they may shoot live bullets to the teenagers throwing stones. They know that if a kid fell and died they would never be punished by law. I moved to another part of the city where there were even more clashes, the Palestinians were throwing stones behind a trash bin that had been put on fire. There were shootings; at one point it was non-stop for 5 minutes and everybody ran away. One of my friends who was there told me earlier that he saw one kid falling down, full of blood. I stayed for a while; protected against a wall. I was not risking anything but still my heart was beating fast. I will never get used to the sound of live bullets.
Then we went up to a building to look at where the army was and we saw a bulldozer moving towards houses but it was too dark to see anything. A cameraman next to me received a phone call and he said “Shaeed”; the Arabic word for martyr. A teenager, aged 17; has been killed from Deheishe camp. His name was Qusai. I went to the hospital. A lot of people were there already from the camp; many of them were hugging, in tears. As I walked inside the room where the body was rested, I saw a boy crying. He was Qusai’s brother. I did not stay long.
Once at home, I tried to organize my thoughts but I could not. I think I still cannot. Just another exhausting day in Palestine.