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How the hell do you explain a 37-year military occupation to a 3 year old!

by forward from WIB-LA list serve Thursday, Dec. 04, 2003 at 5:30 AM

Last night was not a good night. We put our two girls to sleep at 9am. My wife followed at 10. At around 11:30pm I was on the computer when out of nowhere Israeli IDF soliders were yelling out of loudspeakers for our neighboors, 2 streets over, to exit their house with all kids. A few moments later the annoying wizzing sound of the unmanned plane...

Sam ****** serves on the Advisory Boards of Cafe Intifada and The Writing Empowerment Project. He lives in Al Bireh, Palestine. I received this email at 2:41 pm, 12:41 am in Palestine.

Peace, justice and above all else, Love,

Cafe Intifada

The Writing Empowerment Project

Dear friends,

Last night was not a good night. We put our two girls to sleep at 9am. My wife followed at 10. At around 11:30pm I was on the computer when out of nowhere Israeli IDF soliders were yelling out of loudspeakers for our neighboors, 2 streets over, to exit their house with all kids. A few moments later the annoying wizzing sound of the unmanned plane started right over our house. It was an act all too familiar over the last 3 years. The Israelis were back in town, full force, going house to house, tanks and all.

My main concern was for my girls not to awake. I closed their bedroom door put on some music and closed tight all of our flat's windows. I knew the shooting would start and I could not let my girls go through this again...they are barely starting to forget last year when the IDF came twice and forced us out of the house to search our home.

It did'nt take 15 minutes and the shooting did start. Then the explosions, small ones, then large ones. I could hear our neighbor's kids crying as the soldier yelled in the loudspeakers for the hands to go behind the head and for each parent to march single file to the road...this went on until 3:30am.

As things seemed to settle down I went to sleep hoping to get a few hours before morning. At 7am the IDF jeeps road past our house, yelling from loudspeakers, "curfew"...all I could think is, not again. The phone started ringing off the hook as other parents started our all to well tested phone network to see if this was a rampant soldier or policy. After a few calls we waked the girls and explained to them that school may or may not be on, but we would try.

I took Areen, my 8-year-old first. The Friend's school was open. The guard was stopping every parent's car reassuring them that all would be ok. Then I took Nadine, our 3 year old. The guard in front of her school stopped each parent's car and advised that they would close today, because the jeeps were too close to the school. Nadine had already opened the car door so I had to tell he to close it that school was closed. I'll never forget the sad face as she turned and asked why. Why? How the hell do you explain a 37-year miliary occupation to a 3 year old! I offered her to go to work with me instead until mom could come and pick her up. I told her she could play my worked, she smiled, at least on the surface.

To make a long story short, the IDF had put half of Ramallah and Al-Bireh under full curfew...shooting persisted all day. By noon, 4 Palestinians were dead, in Ramallah alone, and two homes were destroyed by IDF explosions. One was a 9-yr-old boy. By 2pm the stores in the center of the city closed their doors in protest...and word has it tomorrow will be a general strike while we bury our dead. Israeli radio reported that the operation was aimed to catch "wanted men". We will never really know, since the accuser is the judge, jury and executor and all three roles were done in a night's visit.

Before Areen and Nadine went to sleep tonight, they asked if there is school tomorrow. I promised them if there was not, we would play school all day at home.

In the midst of last night, as usual, I write to stay sane. My latest op-ed is below...I modified it a bit tonight after watching the Geneva Accord signing.

Bracing for the worse, again,


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