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Report from the West Bank PDF Print E-mail
Feb 25, 2003 at 12:00 AM

International Women's Peace Service - Palestine

Report from Pat Katagiri
currently in the West Bank with the IWPS
February 25, 2003

Some of the people who were part of the demonstration in Nablus

The weather here is very bad. It's rained almost every day since I've been here. There's been snow in many places today and cities such as Ramallah have shut down because of it. I've had a cold for the past two weeks and think I'll shake it when the sun comes out – if it ever does.

Last week was a bad week. There was the siege of Nablus – one of our members was there for part of the time. Some photos are attached to this report.

During the siege things heated up in the villages and towns in this area. Two internationals from ISM were arrested at Huwarra Checkpoint just out of Nablus – and one of them is still in prison facing deportation. There were 3 home demolitions in our area. A volunteer and myself witnessed one. Nothing in the report we made can really describe what it was like. We got to the family's home at 1:30 a.m. Soldiers were inside and outside the home. We asked to see the family, but the soldiers wouldn't allow us. So we watched with neighbours – saw the silhouettes of the soldier's bodies in the windows of the home as they worked quietly and methodically to place dynamite everywhere. For two hours they worked.

The home demolition we witnessed in Jama'in

We stood on the rooftop of the neighbour who took us in and watched in disbelief as the home exploded before our eyes in the early morning. A loud cry went up from many in the neighbourhood – Allahu Akbar – God is great. The people with us were moaning or crying. There aren't many places on earth where it's okay to blow up a person's home whether or not they commit a crime. Forget about due process. It's non-existent for Palestinians here. When we talked to the family they said that soldiers had told them a year ago their home would be blown up. Two months after that a son, Muhammed, was killed by the military. There is another son, Riziq, who is in prison. He was due to have been released on March 1. Besides torture and many other means of coercion, the Occupation Forces often blow up the home of a family in order to get a family member who is in prison to co-operate with them.

We didn't get back to the IWPS apartment until about 8:30 in the morning and a few hours later were called out to a home in Salfit that was being occupied by the military. They it over at about 8:00 a.m.; there was shooting inside for about 10 minutes, and then the family of 9 was put in a room upstairs. The soldiers occupying the home then proceeded to arrest many men who were in the street below. When we arrived we saw a group of about 20 men, their hands held over their heads, being led toward the home. We found out that they were Palestinian security forces. We tried to get into the home to see the family, and were turned away. Even the daughter of the owner was turned away. She asked why she wasn't allowed to be in her family's home and one of the soldiers said "It's our home." While we were there, some men were released, but many were left inside and we were told they were probably being interrogated.

We felt helpless. We often feel helpless. Palestinians often tell us that no one cares. There aren't words adequate enough to describe the outrages we witness here. We can send out our reports, let others know – but what ever happens? Another member of IWPS and myself visited Hebron. The situation there is very hard, especially for the people living in H2 – the area occupied by the military which covers most of the old city. What did we witness? Children afraid to walk in the street to school, so they walk through connecting courtyards of neighbours' homes and finally get out to the road by crawling down a ladder left out by the Ladder Lady whose home is closest to the school. She began to put the ladder out to help the kids because she witnessed the harassment children were experiencing every day from soldiers and settlers as they tried to get to school. We visited her home on the day that the Red Cross delivered food rations to families. Many adults also use the ladder for getting supplies as well, lugging up heavy sacks of rice or flour or beans in order to avoid getting stopped in the street as they carry food home. It's hard to witness this, hard to know that families are going hungry. And there were children, with the obvious signs of malnutrition on their faces, with carts, begging for one or two shekels for carrying our bags from the main checkpoint out of Hebron.

Nablus - some of the damage in the old city

We get angry a lot. I'm angry this morning because we got a call from the family we interviewed regarding their 17 year old son who was arrested two weeks ago. The family hasn't been allowed to visit him, they want to bring their son warm clothes because conditions in prisons are so bad and it's so cold. I phoned around and was told by the police at Qedumim that he had been taken to Be'er Sheva in the Negev. Defence of Children International told me that the probable reason for being there is so that he can be interrogated by the Shabak – the military internal intelligence service. He's only 17. The family were devastated when they heard this news and fear he may be dead. But it's also true that he may not have been moved at all. I learned later that the police or military often lie, and in this case may have given me the wrong information just to torment the family further.

But there are some things to feel good about. Though the IOF tried to break the people of Nablus they did not – their resistance, according to Maren, the IWPS member who was there was inspiring. The soldiers will come back, they will attack again but there are important victories to savour.

Pat Katagiri is a BC Lower Mainland resident currently in the West Bank for three months with IWPS. She is a Canpalnet member. To reach her email: pkatagiri@hotmail.com. For other reports from IWPS go to http://members.freespeech.org/womenspeacepalestine/IWPSreports.htm

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Facts and Figures about the Current Darkness in the Gaza Strip

January 23rd 2008

Report from the Palestinian Hydrology Group
  1. Gaza Strip today is facing a very harsh siege which is expected to have severely negative humanitarian impact.
  2. The distribution of drinking water and the collection and treatment of wastewater completely rely on electricity and fuel in Gaza Strip.
  3. For several months now Israel has imposed a cruel siege on the Strip preventing people and goods from free movement. This has immobilized the importing of spare parts, pumps, pipes and other necessary accessories for the water and sanitation providing facilities.
  4. According to different sources the water and sanitation services are expected to be completely paralyzed within a matter of hours due to the lack of fuel reserves.
  5. About 133 water wells are being used for domestic purposes in addition to 33 sewage pump stations and three treatment plants; 10 of these groundwater wells function using fuel while the rest rely on electricity. Diesel powered generators are normally used as backup for the whole system but only for a limited time.
    The Coastal Municipalities Water Utility needs at least 100,000 liters of diesel per month to operate the water system. An additional 100,000 liters of diesel per month are needed for the sewage system to prevent wastewater from flooding the streets and residential areas.
  6. Reducing electricity and fuel supplies are potential causes to trigger an environmental crisis especially in the wastewater pump stations and treatment plants. If wastewater is not treated it will have to be pumped directly to the sea. This will for sure have a direct and negative impact on the groundwater aquifer and marine life.
    During winter time sewage pumps need to operate about 24 hours per day due to rainfall. Therefore, interruptions in fuel and electricity supply would be particularly significant.
  7. The sewage treatment plant in Beit Lahiya is also vulnerable to interruptions in electricity supplies. The treatment lagoons must be pumped regularly, or else the 10,000 people living in the area are in danger.  Six months ago, one of the lagoons over flooded and caused the death of five persons. Proper maintenance could have prevented the disaster.
  8. The water supply in Gaza City, with a total of 600,000 residents, in addition to a major part of the central portion of the Strip is expected to be completely cut-off as a result of ceasing the pumping from the municipal groundwater wells. The City also faces the threat of overflowing wastewater since the pumps (especially Al Samer and Aqoola stations) are expected to stop operating within the next 24 hours.
  9. If the current situation should persist the solid wastes generated in the Strip will accumulate in piles on the streets endangering the health of the locals.

The WaSH Monitoring Program calls on the International Community to push Israel to immediately cease all military operations, reopen the borders to allow the movement of people and goods and provide fuel supply and humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza.