It is now time to return to the brutal reality of life here in Palestine.
Kafir Qalal is a small village perched on the side of Mount Gerizem, one of the two mountains that create the valley in which the city of Nablus is found.
Mr. Nadir Sulieman, his wife and four son, three daughters-in-law and two granddaughters live in a multi-story home that Mr. Sulieman has poured his soul and energy into. In Palestine, families build homes for their married sons so that the new families get off to a good start in life. Mr. and Mrs. Sulieman have lived in their original home for more than 25 years. Their sons Nidar, Khalid and Tarik and their wives live in the apartments of this four-storey house. Things seemed to be going well, and Tarik and his new wife of two weeks had just moved in.
… in the early hours of Monday, May 20, 1:30 a.m. to be precise, approximately 100 Israeli soldiers arrived at the home and stormed it. The soldiers did not enter or damage Mr. Sulieman’s portion of the home.
Firstly, they broke into the apartment of Nidar at the back of the first level of the house, tossed all the furniture, clothes and belongings, destroyed furniture, broke dishes, mirrors and keepsakes, slashed cushions and mattresses and dumped everything into the middle of the rooms.
The soldiers did not knock, did not identify themselves, did not ask permission to enter. Instead, they forced Nidar, his wife and two daughters into one room while they ransacked the rest of the apartment. They took the keys to his home and car and locked one of the access doors.
If that wasn’t bad enough …
They next affixed an explosive charge to the door leading into the newer floors of the house. The charge tore the door open and propelled it into the entry and stairwell, carrying with it part of the door frame, the door glass.
The charge then blew open the door to the apartment of Khalid, who was sleeping on a couch several metres from the door. The force of the blast shattered a floor-to-ceiling mirror. Glass from the exterior door was also blown into Khalid’s part of the house.
Twenty soldiers then entered the room and stood by the couch on which he was sleeping. And that was all that happened on the second level.
But it gets worse …
… The soldiers continued up the stairs to the home of the newly-weds Tarik and his wife. They broke open the door, tossed all the furniture and belongings, damaged the new bed and dressers in the master bedroom, tore cushions and clothes, and made a huge mess of everything.
They searched the water reservoirs of the toilets, opened fridges and tossed food on the floor, went up to the water tanks on top of the house and searched inside.
When they left at 5 a.m., the soldiers broke the windshield on one of the son’s cars and then demolished a wall in an outbuilding that housed the family’s pigeons, from which most of the flock escaped.
The soldiers gave no reason for their actions. They did not question anyone. They did not arrest any member of the family.
Our team was shocked. We were speechless. We were angered at the senseless destruction.
Two questions came to mind and linger: WHY?? HOW could human beings carry out such senseless, wanton destruction without any provocation.
What took over 20 years to build was significantly damaged in a mere 4 hours. It will takes years for the families to repair the damage and replace their furniture and belongings.
How long will the memories of that night stay with the two granddaughters aged 3 and 4? How will the lives of these families return to normal?
One of us was interviewed on Palestinian Broadcasting TV. We filed the incident report early this morning so that it can be shared with international organizations and our national coordinators. And each of us has taken the time to blog about this.
Nadir Sulieman is a strong man, a loving family man. His wife made us tea and then coffee. He and his neighbours took the time to know our names and to share of themselves. He wept. And then he thanked us for coming to witness and report on this incident and wished us a good life. As he shook my hand warmly and hugged me, he said: “You are my brother. I thank you for coming here and seeing this with your eyes. Let those at home in your country know about this. This is life in Palestine. Yes, you may use my name.”
What more can we do, you and I?
Our government supports Israel. Canada is said to be Israel’s strongest ally.
One of our Cabinet ministers, the Honourable Jason Kenney, recently congratulated Israel on its independence: (http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/department/media/statements/2013/2013-04-15.asp?utm_source=media-centre-email&utm_medium=email-eng&utm_campaign=generic)
“Canada was one of 33 countries that voted in favour of the United Nations resolution calling for the creation of a Jewish state. Canada was also one of the first countries to formally recognize the State of Israel upon its founding.
“We are proud to celebrate not only Israel’s independence, but also warm Canada-Israel relations based on fundamental, common values. The strong ties between our two countries continue to flourish and are enhanced by our shared commitment to freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
“Israel is a pluralistic democracy that celebrates freedom of religion, equality of the sexes, and minority rights.
These are among Canadian’s most cherished values. But they simply do not exist in the occupied Palestian territory. Why is Canada turning a blind eye to the illegal occupation of the West Bank, to the human rights abuses that we here report on daily, to the illegal creation of Israeli settlements that appropriate lands owned by Palestinians with no compensation, to the wanton and gratuitous violence and destruction against Palestinians by ideological, radical settlers and the Israeli military?
I don’t understand. It’s not rational, it’s not humane, it’s not just, it’s not fair.
So, I return to my question above — what is it that you and I must do to change this?
May you sleep through the night. May strangers announce themselves at your door. May your children not have nightmares about soldiers. May your home be your refuge.
Blessings and grace, shalom and salaam to you and your loved ones. From the West Bank of Palestine, near the Jordan Valley.