Friday, July 11, 2008
We had been asked to accompany a farmer to his olive groves in the village of Zawata, on the fringes of Nablus. He was afraid that if he went to work these particular fields he might be harrassed or shot by Israeli soldiers using the nearby military-only road. (It was a Palestinian road on Palestinian land, but the army had told them that they could no longer use it.) Having a few "internationals" along - especially if they had cameras and video equipment - lessened the chances of him coming to harm.
So we went with him and enjoyed being in the country air while he and his son tended to the olive trees. He had brought along some freshly-made felafel sandwiches and some mint tea for us all to share, and the morning passed very pleasantly. Afterwards, back at his house, over yet more tea, cola and coffee, he explained how an older son had been martyred, at the age of twenty two, when fighting for the resistance in Nablus. He invited me inside to see the over-life-size portrait painting of his martyr son, and the framed photographs, hanging on the walls of the sitting room. The room had been set up as a shrine.
Now the armed resistance has been driven from the city of Nablus. Its members have been disarmed or imprisoned by the Palestinian Authority, who are in charge of the city during daylight hours. As midnight approaches, however, under orders from the Israelis, they return to their barracks and the night belongs to the Israeli army of occupation.