Between Corona and Occupation

Dear friends,

Two days ago I was enraged by an item I read in Haaretz newspaper, headlined:

“The police shut down a Corona clinic in Silwan…” (a Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem).

I immediately wanted to write something that gives voice to an event and re-balances the writer. Instead, I shared this news by phone with some friends (this too calms one a bit, at times) and thought that this is an item that has been publicized by the media, and there is no need to publicize it further.

I also thought that in my last letter – “Times of Corona” – the essence had already been said, that the occupation does not stop even at a time when the whole world, or so it seems, stops dead in its tracks.

Two days went by. I noticed that my intuitive space is uneasy, and called Musa’eb. Ever since this Corona isolation I have been phone-visiting friends in the South Hebron Hills and various other places in the West Bank on a daily basis. So why Musa’eb today of all days? The rational mind has no answer.

Musa’eb answers. I hear shouts in the background. He says – rapidly but steadily, as usual – that settler-colonists from Havat Maon are attacking and that we’ll talk later. I hang up in a hurry, and wait with my usual steady impatience for him to call back.

After a while (in isolation I have lost my sense of time), Musa’eb calls.

Through his delicacy and presence that needs no validation I hear his pain making its way into me.  It’s a familiar pain for whoever meets evil open-eyed – evil that is the legitimate offspring of ignorance.

“We began to reap in a ravine that has not seen harassment for some years now”, says Musa’eb. “And then”, he continues at my request to tell me the details, “several people came down from Havat Maon settler-colony-outpost, threatened 24-year old Basel and beat him up. We ran to help him and at this point they had already twisted his arm so that it could break any minute. I intervened. Soldiers were already there. One of the assailants pointed his gun at me. I lifted a stone. A soldier yelled at me to let go of the stone. I asked him why he saw only the stone, and not the gun. ‘I see only the stone’, the soldier answered. There was chaos and the soldiers yelled at us as if we were the assailants. That is nothing new. We got Basel out. The settler-colonists distanced themselves a bit at the soldiers’ bidding, and we returned to the village. The armed settler-colonists returned to the ravine. The soldiers did not prevent them from doing this. It’s their seventh attack now, since the Corona-virus has placed us in isolation. They have developed a system: they attack our farmland, and when we all run to help workers under attack, another group of theirs attacks the houses. The house under most such attacks is mine, being the last house in the village in the direction of Havat Maon.

When the settler-colonists come to the house, they throw stones and beat my wife. All this was happening before the Corona-virus, but now it’s more frequent.” Musa’eb fell silent.
So did I.

I wanted to stay silent and only look at his eyes and show my deep understanding, but the phone I was holding reminded me that we were having a phone conversation. Musa’eb broke the silence and added: “When all this happens, the settler-colonists and soldiers are so close to us, less than 2 meters. We could catch the virus if any of them are carriers. They don’t even stop at the red-light of Corona”.

“The occupation is another form of Corona” – I quote Azam to him, and we laugh.

For a report on another recent settlers attack in a-Tuwani check https://www.btselem.org/video/20190416_a_tuwani_settlers_attack_palestinian_residents

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