Few days ago, soldiers destroyed
Eyad's stand. Because Eyad said no.
The pressure on Palestinians to collaborate and betray their own people is deep and vile and as old as the State of Israel. Physicians for Human Rights have published a terrifying report lately, describing Gazan Palestinian cancer-patients in life-threatening condition, sent to hospitals elsewhere that can offer them treatment not available in Gaza. They (and their escorts) are required to collaborate with Israel against their own people in order to obtain permission to travel, and if they refuse, they are sent home to their near-certain death.
Palestinians living under Israeli Occupation since 1967 have practically no fundamental human rights, as are anchored in international conventions to which Israel, too, is signatory. Rights that Israel denies the Palestinians as a matter of course.
The denial of Palestinians' rights is usually a-priori and inherent, so that in order to obtain them – the right to health, for example, or education or freedom of movement or livelihood or the saving of lives – they have to pay. Betray.
In other words, many of these inaliable rights often lie at the far end of a 'talk' with the General Security Services officer.
They came at eight, began demolishing
at ten, and at half past ten they were already gone. About twenty
soldiers, two DCO jeeps, a Hummer, a bulldozer and a truck. Something
like that. First they loaded stuff. The containers which we fill with
watermelons, worth about 2000 NIS. Confiscated, as it were. Then they
broke everything else.
The Palestinians are prevented from making a living, not just as a means to pressure them into collaborating. Methodically, strategically.
At all the checkpoints, throughout the years, throughout and along the roads, soldiers of different units harass the vendors and keep them from working.
The stands keep getting demolished time and time again in the same area by soldiers.
The official reasons keep changing:
because it disturbs other Palestinians, when it is obvious that it does nothing of the kind, and since when does Israel care about Palestinians.
Because a British Mandate law (dating from the 1940's at the latest) forbids vending by the roadside. And sometimes because of rules from the Ottoman Empire period (until 1918).
And at times because it conceals something. Or reveals something.
And at times because it's prohibited, period.
The reasons vary, but the purpose is always the same. To deny livelihood.
And so, because the soldiers have been thus instructed, or just to satisfy their occasional urges, the soldiers can destroy the Palestinians' sources of livelihood in an ever-repeating routine.
And the soldiers can prevent them from working, as in Eyad's case, to get them to collaborate.
It all begins and ends with the fact that a Palestinian is not human. Not really.
If he were, it would not happen.
A day before my stand was destroyed they stuck a note on it. Imad was
sitting inside, they didn't see him. They came in, took pictures,
photographed the goods inside, and put a note on the stand.
I'm here near the stand, sitting here with the guy from Gaza, and kids were throwing stones from behind. Do you think it was really the kids' idea to go throw stones at night? It was a collaborating bastard who told the kids, here, take some money and go throw stones. To get me in trouble.
So I went, and in the morning they came and ruined everything.
Look at the eggs they broke. Fifty cases. And the vegetables, look how they trashed them. Isn't it a pity? I'd take them out and give them to the poor. Such a pity.
And why don't they close that guy down? Look over there, that stand on the road. Because that guy works with them. He told me so. A few times when the soldiers took away my scales, he went up to them right there in the middle of the road, and took the scales off their jeep, and gave them back to me.
What does that mean?
It means that they want Eyad.
I just want to feed my children. Not to build any fancy houses. Just my own little corner. To feed my children and live in peace.
Now I'm a goner, Aya. Don't know what to do. Many people live off this stand. Not just me. Seven or eight families live from this stand.
They grip every person where it hurts. Here, it hurts me not to live with my family, to care for the stand. They know just what is most important for us and then they make sure to grab it. To apply pressure.
There was a Qur'an in the stand, and it got ruined. Why? Don't we respect your Torah? I once saw a stolen car that had a Bible and phylacteries inside. I took them and gave them to a Jew I know. Ask him, he's still alive. Why, do I hurt your Torah?
God willing, things will work out.
The stand is ruined. Crooked, broken piece of metal. Wooden planks. Hundreds of smashed eggs and rotting vegetables and garbage and bits of photographs and crushed cans. People pass along, crying out: What happened here? And Eyad says: the army. Lots of bumblebees buzz around the spoiled food. The air reeks, putrid. Eyad and his workers sit on the ruins, idle. Once in a while someone says something, another curses, they sit down again. One of them suddenly gets up, moves something with his foot, a piece of torn mattress or some other thing, then sits down again. Sometimes someone stops his car and joins them and asks and they tell him a little bit and chat and then he leaves.
What shall I do, Aya? What have I done to them to be treated this way?
Soon snakes will come here. This used to be a good spot. Lit up all night. The neighbors liked having light. They could walk in the field without fear. I would clean here every day, go home at noon, take a two-hour nap and be here the rest of the time. It was a good place. Good for people. And there was some money.
Jews used to get lost around here and I would tell them how to get back, through Hizma. We all had a living. I gave leftovers to the poor. You won't believe how poor people have gotten. I gave them eggs and vegetables. They have nothing. Absolutely
nothing. What am I going to tell that man who has nothing and whom I used to give food? That I haven't got any? What am I going to tell him?
They will not leave me alone. They will ruin and take everything that is important to me. They've burnt me down, Aya. They just won't leave Eyad alone.
And we sat some more with Eyad and some of his friends and his brother. And in spite of everyone around us fasting, they offered us glasses of Coke and we drank.
And time went by. Again and again people stopped and asked what happened and why. And after they heard, they cursed the army and some soldiers in a Hummer drove by a few times, loudly and demonstratively, sporting the trappings of their violence and domination with disturbing pride.
I'll build, Eyad suddenly said. No matter how many times they demolish, I'll rebuild.
You know, I got a note a while ago, turning down my application for family unification. Enough. That does it.
But I'll not collaborate. My children will say they had a good father. They will never say their father was a collaborator. An informer. Me name is not something anyone can take away from me.
Translated by Tal Haran