PALESTINIAN HOSPITALITY -- PART 2
Our action at the well (near Netzarim settlement, and Faiz Jerat camp of Palestine, in Nuseirat) on Sunday was a success -- our Gaza ISM contingent of about 20 accompanied about four Palestinian workers to the well, and over the course of a few hours, they fixed it and it was up and running by the time we left! In case I hadn't mentioned earlier, it was out of service due to Israeli soldiers having fired bullets on the petrol tank. One worker had been shot there, and died. About 3/4 of the time through our presence there, a tank, engulfed in sand clouds and smoke, appeared up on a ridge a few hundred yards from us. It pointed its main cannon at us. A few minutes later it moved closer. We all put up our hands with passports visible. The soldiers in the tank waved us on and left us alone.
That's the good news. This AM about 10 of us went back to the site of the well; we had heard rumors that the road that Palestinian workers had made with a bulldozer yesterday (in order for workers to make daily trips for adding petrol) had been destroyed by the IDF soldiers. Also the workers had to add a flow regulator -- not a big job. The rumors were right -- the Israeli soldiers completely demolished the road. When seven of us got up to the well, it was apparent that the soldiers or someone had been inside the structure, tampering with it. Three of us stayed behind and kept lookout from atop a partially-built, stadium-like structure. We were in cell-phone contact with the group who walked to the well - they were yelled at by Israeli soldiers from their tower -- "We'll fucking kill you!" etc. There was not a direct confrontation, though. After the ISM-ers left the well, a tank appeared again on the ridge, in good sight of the three of us on lookout; it pointed its cannon at us. We held up our passports. They were out of yelling distance so no dialogue occurred.
The well was no longer running, but possibly just because it needs more petrol. We had no access to a working bulldozer today to clear the way, so petrol could not be delivered, and the well remains out of order, hopefully just due to being out of petrol. What is next remains to be seen. We plan to do a press release. Future groups in Gaza will likely have to take up this issue.
The original 20 in our Gaza contingent has dwindled -- if you know anyone coming to Palestine, there will be a need for people here very soon. ISM may send some out who are in training today.
One of our Danes and one of our Americans were in a press conference with Arab and some international media today. The rest of us joined in after the well action. It went okay, but we had hoped to get the conference to move out to the well to hold it there -- to no avail.
In the past few days we have been in Raffah in South Gaza, where we met with local leaders [representatives] of Hamas and Fatah. Both were relatively unimpressive and seemed not totally honest or helpful, really circumventing most of our questions, etc. -- possibly due to the fact that they were media-face types. Raffah has had some home demolition but we didn't get around to seeing it. We did see a Palestinian police station that had been bombed by Apaches, I believe. We also visited a Children's' Parliament and a women's center. The man who heads the Children's Parliament has come under criticism and served jail time for allegedly inciting Palestinian children. Our interactions and dialogues with him were much more illuminating and interesting than either the Hamas or Fatah guys.
The three Brits went back to Raffah today to hopefully document and research a court that was bombed by Apaches a couple days ago, allegedly in attempt to assassinate some wanted Hamas guy. One person was killed but it's not clear yet if it was the targeted guy. Also they will go to visit refugee camps there.
Freddie, Juan and I are planning to get out of Gaza today in order to deliver a Palestinian child's passport to Jerusalem in order that he can get badly-needed medical attention in Saudi Arabia. We also plan to go to Ramallah in the West Bank tomorrow for some kind of planned action there with other ISM-ers.
The latest news is that all this should happen as scheduled. We will have to pass through a Gaza checkpoint to leave -- this is, I think, the same one we entered through, and got in, with no problem, after telling the guards we were here to do organizing around a planned Christian childrens' camp.
Yesterday afternoon some of us went to a beautiful Mediterranean beach here in Gaza to unwind. We all spent about 10 minutes in the water and left abruptly after multiple (mild) jellyfish stings. It's jellyfish season!