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					        PALESTINIAN
       CHRONICLES




  Trapped by War
                                 Since the beginning of the second Intifada, in September 2000,
                                     MSF’s physician-psychologist teams have been providing
                                 assistance to Palestinian civilians in Hebron and the Gaza Strip.
                                       This collection of articles tells the story of their work
                                    and offers testimony to the day-to-day reality of a people
                            trapped by war and suffering in ways that are generally unacknowledged.




A S P E C I A L S U P P L E M E N T T O M E S S A G E S , T H E M É D E C I N S S A N S F R O N T I È R E S N E W S PA P E R – J U LY 2 0 0 2
The Palestinian                          THE PHOTOS INCLUDED IN THE CHRONICLES
Chronicles are a way                                    ARE TAKEN FROM A REPORT
of bearing witness.                                  PRODUCED BY PHILIPPE CONTI
They were written                               BETWEEN JULY 2001 AND MAY 2002.
by psychologists,
psychiatrists, doctors,
administrators and
logisticians who have
participated in MSF’s
missions in the Gaza
Strip and Hebron since
September 2001
and who recorded their
experiences and
observations to continue
thinking, working and
meeting. They did not
write about theories,
techniques or, even,
about emotions. Instead,
                                         OUR THANKS TO ALL THE AUTHORS OF THE
they provided facts and                  PALESTINIAN CHRONICLE : ZINET AHMED –
fragments of things seen,                LILIANA ANDRADE – PIERRE BEURRIER –
                                         LORENA BILBAO – HÉLÈNE BOUCHEBOUBA
experienced and felt.
                                         – SARA CARMONA – LAURA CARTAÑA –
They wrote plainly                       JIMENA CAVANNA – JORDI COSTA –
and simply, without                      CATHERINE DAUBRÈGE – DIDIER DE
commentary, analysis                     GREGORIO      –   ITSASO    ETCHEVERRY
                                         – PAULA FARIAS – CHRISTINE FIRNHABER –
or judgment. They wrote                  ROBERT GENEST – ARNAUD GHIZZ
these chronicles for all                 – ANGELIKA GROTERATH – SITA HALLIER –
readers, not just for                    LUDMILA HESOVA – FIMIA INTON – FOUAD
                                         ISMAEL HASSAN – MARIE-HÉLÈNE JOUVE –
experts or those who                     CHRISTA KRIEG – YVES LALLINEC – HERVÉ
saw what they saw.                       LANDA – OLIVIER MAIZOUE – CHRISTINE
They wrote to show                       MARCILLY – CESAR MARTÍNEZ – JOSE
                                         MARTINEZ – VIRGINIE MATHIEU – MURIEL
with words.
                                         MONTAGUT        –  SALLIE   MOTCH     –
                                         YOUSSOUPHA NIANG – MARYLIN NOGARO
                                         – ELISABETH OLDCORN – KARINE PILLETTE –
                                         CLAIRE REYNAUD – DALILA REZZOUG –
 Publication Director: Anne Fouchard     SABINE ROQUEFORT – FARIBA SAADVANDI –
 Editor: Alain Frilet
 Layout: Frédérique Goursolas
                                         AITOR ZABALGOGEASKOA – DELPHINE
 Publishing: Jacques Péron, Olivier      ZINS.
 Falhun, and Yann Guégan                 AND TO ALL THOSE PROFESSIONALS --
 Translation: Leah Brumer, Andrew Long
                                         LOCAL AND EXPATRIATE – WHO SINCE
 Printing: TC Graphite
 Production: Artecom                     1993 HAVE MADE OUR WORK IN THE
                                         PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES POSSIBLE.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
4    An Exceptional
     Mission
     PUT TO THE TEST
     by Jean-Hervé Bradol

     HEALING THE MIND
     by Pierre Salignon, Fouad Ismael
     and Elena Sgorbati

     TREATMENT FOR SORROW
     by Christian Lachal and Marie-Rose Moro




17   Palestinian
     Interior
     FRAGMENTED TERRITORIES
     Three maps identifying the relationships
     among Palestine’s various conflict
     regions

     A YEAR IN GAZA AND HEBRON
     Places, dates, interiors, contexts, ideas,
     descriptions, reactions, emotions…
     Notes taken by Médecins Sans
     Frontières’ medical and psychological
     teams while working with Palestinian
     patients provide an inside view of the
     psychological consequences of a conti-
     nual war situation.




61   MSF Press
     Releases
     JERUSALEM, APRIL 4, 2002
     “The obstruction of medical assistance intended
     for Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Territories
     has reached alarming proportions… ”
     The “Chronicles” recount the situation up to October
     2001, but the situation in the Palestinian Territories
     continues to deteriorate. MSF remains present.

                                                                                 3
                         P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
              Humanitarian agencies are being asked to choose sides.
                    They must preserve their independence.




    Put to the                       BY JEAN-HERVÉ BRADOL,
                                                                                                           test
                             PRÉSIDENT OF MÉDECINS SANS FRONTIÈRES




    I
        n the old city of Jerusalem, a           demonstration, I was taken on a tour                    shopping, security, medical care…
        Palestinian colleague showed me          that included houses razed to the                       everything depends on the will of the
        around beneath the pale winter           ground, ravaged strawberry fields,                      Israelis. An entire life composed of
        sunshine. Our first problem was to       olive trees torn from the ground,                       harassment imposed by a foreign
        decide which shrine to visit. Israeli    blocked roads with figures moving like                  army. How can they fail to rebel? What
    police do not allow non-Muslims insi-        shadows, watchtowers, assault tanks,                    is the point of living such a life? Is it
    de the mosque. Kids in uniform were          small military fortresses made of con-                  worth the trouble? Many ask themsel-
    instructing visitors to state their faith.   crete. Gaza is like a vast open-air                     ves that question. Some answer no.
    They would then decide whether or            detention center, watched, from land,                   Strapping explosives to their bodies,
    not the visitors could go in. Souvenir       sea and air, by war machines (planes,                   they blow themselves up in public pla-
    stores advertised posters for sale next      helicopters, armored cars, and boats)                   ces, killing as many Israelis as possible,
    to the rebuilt temple that stands on         and their faceless pilots. My Palestinian               and thereby affirming their refusal to
    the site of the Al-Aqsa mosque. In the       hosts talked of the individual in the                   live a life that has become unlivable.
    name of history and religion, extre-         tank guarding the end of the road, of                   The calculations made by those who
    mists on both sides justify the use of       the missile seen wavering between                       supply them with the explosives are
    violence, foreseeing a world made free       two trajectories... The Israeli soldiers                decidedly more cynical
    of their adversaries. The symbolic pre-      remained at a distance, protected by                    In Israel, every daily act is accompa-
    sence of the prophets in the midst of        their armor plating. They do not                        nied by the fear of being the victim of
    those ancient stones invites all of us,      speak, they just fire.                                  an attack or of losing a close relative.
    including foreigners visiting for a few                                                              At any moment, terror can wreak
    days, to take sides – even if this means     Sinister Dialogue of the Deaf                           havoc upon day-to-day life. Whenever
    erasing from our minds the face of the       In the West Bank, too, the Palestinians                 I talked to my Israeli hosts about the
    adversary: his humanity, his rights,         are hemmed in. They cannot travel to                    reprehensible tactics of the Israeli army
    and his suffering. This may represent a      Israel and it is extremely difficult to                 in the Territories, their first reaction
    dangerous prelude to an even more            move from one town to another. For                      was often to cite the suicide attacks.
    radical form of elimination: expulsion       these Palestinians, too, the face of the                The Palestinians justify such attacks on
    by violence.                                 enemy is a pitiless machine, which                      civilians by saying that there are no
    The second stop on my visit was the          threatens their lives at every moment.                  civilians in Israel, since every citizen,
    Gaza Strip. My colleagues tried to           The hundreds of civilians killed since                  whether man or woman, had either
    explain to me the extraordinary geo-         the beginning of this phase of the                      already performed, would perform, or
    graphy of this small strip of land. Their    conflict offer confirmation that, as the                was performing his or her military or
    words seemed to conceal a concern            desire to separate grows stronger,                      reserve service. It is like some sinister
    that I might not understand; that I          each side sees less of the other, and                   dialogue of the death, where a good
    might not be able to comprehend the          the death toll climbs higher.                           reason is always found to justify the
    injustice and the suffering caused by        Palestinians talked to me of their                      death of people who share no respon-
    that geographical reality, to unders-        desperate weariness of being unable                     sibility for the clashes (provided, of
    tand who was strong and who was              to decide their own destinies, and of                   course, that they belong the opposite
    weak; or see clearly which was the           having to suffer the decrees of the                     camp). In this conflict, the victim men-
    right side to take. Then, by way of          Israeli state. Work, transportation,                    tality–victims of Palestinian terrorism


4
                                                 P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
CATHERINE DAUBRÈGE




                                                                             5
                     P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
    or Israeli settlement policies, depend-      various origins, their spiritual beliefs,               violence. It is the product of a war that
    ing on which side is talking–occupies        and their suffering; that invite people                 is cruel, but of low intensity and
    a central place in each side’s war pro-      to deny the humanity of the adversa-                    spread out over decades. There are
    paganda, so that two symbolic figures        ry; and that reduce an entire people to                 those at the top and there are those at
    ultimately emerge: the eternal victim        a single figure: whether terrorist or                   the bottom. For example, occupants
    and the victim of the eternal victim.        settler.                                                of the upper floors of homes in the
    For the relief worker, the victim is                                                                 narrow alleyways of the old cities of
    more than an individual encountered          An Order Created by the Violence                        Jerusalem and Hebron throw their
    while providing medical care or relief.      Usually it is the relief that MSF provi-                garbage out of their windows onto
    Above all, and with an intensity rarely      des to the wounded, to the starving,                    the heads of neighbors living on the
    equaled within the context of other          and to exiles living in conditions of                   floor below and shout at them to
    conflicts, the victim has become a           desperate poverty that occupies our                     clean up the mess. Occupants of
    symbolic figure, which allows people         teams in countries at war. Here, displa-                some of these homes have installed
    to forget, or even justify the kinds of      ced people and refugees make up the                     horizontal grills that separate their
    violence that are contrary to the prin-      majority of a people that has lived in                  ground floor apartments from those
    ciple of humanity, to international law,     exile for decades. The Palestinian peo-                 above. As you look up through the
    and to policies that seek to restore         ple ask for the creation of a state on                  grills, your view of the sky is obstruct-
    peace.                                       the remains of the land on which they                   ed by the garbage. It is an astonishing
    The invitation to join one side or the       used to live and where they now are                     sight at least, to the eyes of a forei-
    other is accompanied by an obligation        struggling to survive. They have had                    gner. In other places whether
    to collude with criminal forms of vio-       time to learn how to care for their                     Palestinians and Israelis come into
    lence. Two examples of this are the          wounded and their sick and to esta-                     contact with each other –housing dis-
    deadly attacks against Israeli civilians     blish a public health policy. They                      tricts bordering settlements or Israeli
    and – less spectacular but ultimately        receive considerable support from                       military positions – the exchanges are
    more lethal – the Israeli army’s shoot-      abroad. On the Israeli side, the resour-                not limited to garbage.
    ing of Palestinian civilians. If humanita-   ces are there to care for wounded sol-                  Palestinian fighters suddenly appear
    rian action is to be effective, it must      diers and bring assistance to civilians                 and fire at soldiers or settlers, and
    detach itself from political positions       who are victims of attacks. A perma-                    Palestinian civilians are fired on like
    that seek to manipulate people’s             nent order has been created by the                      rabbits in a telescopic sight at the




6
                                                 P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
slightest movement deemed suspi-               or Afghanistan, that does not mean                    well for the future. Amid mounting
cious by Israeli soldiers. Their homes         that the suffering of the Palestinian                 violence – Palestinian suicide bom-
are occupied or destroyed as a form of         people is any less intense. Assistance                bings and bloody acts of collective
collective punishment for armed                to those affected by armed conflict is                punishment by the Israelis – caused by
actions conducted by others or, more           never a matter of simply providing                    the occupation, hopes for a compro-
simply, as a part of Israel’s security         food and shelter or healing bodies:                   mise diminish by the day, providing
plan. Palestinians in these districts          only the key players involved can                     more and more fuel for radicals in
must face constant grief, physical and         determine what can be tolerated, in                   both camps. As it attempts to seal off
psychological injury, and arrests, and         terms of offense to human dignity.                    the population of the West Bank into
live in a state of growing destitution         The Palestinians’ response is clear:                  the towns, behind fences, the Israeli
caused by the economic blockade.               they do not accept the fate assigned                  government is also trying to pressure
These are the people with whom we              to them, and many are ready to die as                 humanitarian organizations to beco-
work in the Gaza Strip and Hebron.             a result. Our actions are also limited by             me the social workers of an oppressive
We bring medical, psychological, and           the Palestinians’ own capacities for                  system designed to imprison an entire
social assistance to their homes, which        mobilization, public expression, and                  people within open-air detention
have been transformed by the fighting          organization.                                         camps. International humanitarian
into a frontline. The “Palestinian             That could change. Over recent                        aid, which until now has played only a
Chronicles” offer a collection of des-         months, very considerable damage                      peripheral role in this conflict, now
criptions of this work.                        has been inflicted on their capacity to               risks being cast in the role of prison
                                               resist. The military occupation is be-                warden at the heart of a pitiless system
Humanitarian Resistance                        coming more firmly entrenched, as                     of domination and segregation. The
MSF has been working in the                    illustrated by Israelis firing at civilians,          Palestinian people’s capacity to resist
Palestinian Territories for nearly 10          ambulances, and hospitals, and by the                 has been sorely tried. Now it is the
years. Every day, our doctors and              refusal of the Israeli authorities to allow           independence of foreign aid workers
psychologists witness the profound             a commission of inquiry on the violen-                that will be put to the test.
trauma suffered by the Palestinian             ce at Jenin. This clear deterioration in
people. Even if Médecins Sans                  the situation, seen in the high toll of                          Dr. Jean-Hervé Bradol,
Frontières’ presence in this crisis is not     civilian dead and injured over a period                                    Président of
as great as it is in Angola, Chechnya,         of a few weeks, does not bode at all                           Médecins Sans Frontières




                                                                                                                                                7
                                             P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
            The theory behind, and limits to, MSF’s psychiatric approach
                      in the midst of the Palestinian conflict.
                   A critical examination of a long-term project.



    Healing the mind
                                              BY PIERRE SALIGNON,
                                    F O U A D I S M A E L A N D E L E N A S G O R B AT I




    T
                 o address the consequences      Jewish settlements and their access                     reach Palestinian medical centers or to
                 of the Al Aqsa intifada, in     routes because of firing and mortar                     have access to a doctor. For fear of
                 November 2000 Médecins          attacks of which they are the targets                   seeing their house requistioned or des-
                 Sans Frontières (MSF) ini-      from different armed Palestinian                        troyed in their absence, some patients
                 tiated medical and psycho-      groups, thus dispersing the residents                   avoid seeking treatment. Access to
    logical care efforts in the Palestinian      of the already-segmented West Bank                      health care is now uncertain, while
    territories in the West Bank, Hebron         and Gaza Strip (3).                                     violence against Palestinian families
    and the Gaza Strip.                                                                                  and climate of terror in which they live
    The goal of this medical intervention        Living conditions continue to worsen                    generate intense stress, fear and panic,
    in a war setting is to provide care to       In Gaza and Hebron, and as well in                      which call for immediate medical
    Palestinian families regularly and fre-      Ramallah and Nablus, Israeli military                   attention.
    quently exposed to potentially trama-        operations have thus created enclaves                   If the Palestinian Red Cross, with help
    tic events related to the conflict. Most     in which Palestinian families are effec-                from the International Committee of
    of these families live in the areas most     tively confined and living in a state of                the red Cross, the U.N. and various
    affected by violence ; near confronta-       permanent stress, suffering to the                      non-governmental organizations, are
    tion sites, Israeli Army installations and   point of feeling completely abandon-                    active in health care and provide sup-
    Jewish settlements (1).                      ed. The sense of despair is amplified                   port for caring for the wounded and
    Since the beginning of the Al Aqsa           by the Israeli Army’s systematic des-                   for primary care facilities, there are few
    intifada in September 2000, the settle-      truction of their houses and property                   specialists trained in trauma care.
    ment policy of the Israeli Army and          (factories, greenhouses, orchards,                      Following an October 2000 evalua-
    Jewish settlers has continued (2) and        olive trees) in areas adjoining Jewish                  tion, which confirmed the scope of
    repressive measures taken against the        settlements and near major traffic rou-                 the need, it seemed to us a priority to
    Palestinian population has assumed           tes used by the settlers. This repeated                 intervene immediately, even while the
    the form of collective punishment.           destruction, often carried out at night,                conflict was still underway.
    The isolation of Israeli and Palestinian     under protection of Israeli Army tanks,
    populations is heightened daily with         increases the Palestinians’ feeling of                  When events lead to suffering or trau-
    the harsh application of a military          humiliation and revolt.                                 matic consequences of living in an
    occupation régime in the Palestinian         The economic blockade imposed                           occuped territory.
    territories.                                 by Israel against the Palestinian territo-              Nearly the entire Palestinian popula-
    Fearing new attacks in Israel, and           ries strengthens Palestinian families’                  tion suffers from the confinement,
    given the escalation in violence since       extreme dependency. Men who usual-                      occupation, fear and an absence of
    the end of 2001, the Israeli Army’s          ly work in Israel are deprived of jobs                  hope for the future on a daily basis.
    strategy consists of limiting the move-      and thus of an income, which means                      However, the intensity and the num-
    ments of Palestinians outside the            that the poorest families are unable to                 ber of traumas differs, as do the
    Palestinian territories. The strategy        buy enough foob on a daily basis (4).                   psychological after-effects. In this war
    seeks to guarantee the security of the       Some families are even unable to                        in which civilians are on the front lines,


8
                                                 P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
reactions are extremely variable. Stress      had terrifying experiences and who                    bers leave home little or not at all.
is a normal reaction for those subject        have forgotten some of what they                      There is no money. Local doctors are
to daily violence and humiliation, in an      experienced. Psychological disorders                  overwhelmed, have lost motivation,
environment in which remaining                emerge during the Al Aqsa intifada,                   are exhausted. And finally, there are
indoors/confinement offers the only           sometimes several years after the first               very few Palestinian psychologists or
possible hope of safety and security.         traumatic event.                                      psychiatrists.
In the most exposed areas, leaving            According to the methods esta-                        The MSF doctor carries out the role of
one’s house could risk death, as could        blished by Western militaries to treat                home visit doctor. His or her interven-
going out at night. But staying at            troops confronted by traumatic events                 tion ays the groundwork and rounds
home is sometimes hardly more secu-           on the battle field, such patients requi-             out the intervention of psychiatrists
re. Often riddled by bullet holes, these      red immediate care, even in the field,                and psychologists. The M.D. cares for
houses are regular targets for Israeli        and at the outset, for a limited time.                the body before the mind/soul/emo-
soldiers. Israeli Army tanks traveling        Relying on/drawing on this experience                 tions are treated. The doctor refers
nearby all day long make terrifying           of psychiatric intervention in war,                   patients suffering from psychological
noises. Children can no longer play           Médecins Sans Frontières adopted a                    problems to the psychologist or psy-
outside or go out along. Nowhere is           practice in the heart of the most ex-                 chiatrist. This can begin a therapeutic
safe anymore. In such an environment          posed areas where many Palestinian                    work allowint individuals and families
children, like adults, develop fears and      families still live. MSF doctors, psycho-             to express their fears, to treat their
experience repeated nightmare.                logists and psychiatrists, assisted by                traumas and reduce their stress. The
Children no longer want to leave their        Palestinian interpreters and drivers,                 reference model is that of therapeutic
mothers or go out of the house                come together in a joint clinical and                 visits/consults and brief therapy (indi-
without them.                                 curative practice (5).                                vidual, family or group, depending on
This stress may also trigger severe and       This approach is based on home visits                 the case); treatment lasts on a few
deeper psychological suffering. Along         because the obstacles to free travel as               weeks on the basis of two visits/week
with what is known as « adaptation »          well as the fear felt by patients pre-                (close monitoring).
stress, found widely, some individuals        vents them from leaving home for                      Intervening while the conflict situation
develop more serious, severe and              treatment. Palestinian health workers                 – the cause of the trauma – is still
chronic reactive psychological syndro-        do not have access to them so MSF                     underway allows to give meaning to
mes, including various forms of
depressive states and PTSD.
Some people remain prostrate and
can no longer speak or feed themsel-
ves. Others experience delirious episo-                MSF doctors and psychologists work
des following an intense fright, like the           together, complementing the typical home
mother who ran to find her children                    visit with several weeks of individual
when firing began. She thought “We
die together or we survive together.”
                                                                 or family therapy.
One week later, she developed a per-
secution mania, with auditory halluci-
nations, profound anxiety and sleep
loss. Paralyzed by extreme fatigue, she       teams’ home visits are often the only                 the event or to the reaction, to identi-
was unable to care for her children.          way of breaking through the isolation                 fy the trauma with the patient and
                                              in which some families live.                          thus to avoid later a more severe reac-
Appropriate action?                           The doctor-psychologist team identi-                  tion to some new aggression (which
On a daily basis, the MSF team meets          fies and takes on the most vulnerable                 in this context of violence is certain).
Palestinian families suffering from           patients. If listening is important, the              The psychologist seeks to anticipate
these kinds of psychological disorgani-       doctor’s home visit, often conducted                  latent/occluded emotional states,
zation, revived when shooting is heard        outside by the entrance or under olive                emotional pain transformed into
and planes bomb.                              trees, allows the targeting of untrea-                dispairs that are difficult to reverse.
Another frequent situation is that of         ted medical problems and psychologi-                  Médecins Sans Frontières has already
those people who were imprisoned              cal disorders. The doctor offers typi-                experimented with this approach in
and tortured during the first intifada        cal/standard advice, provides medica-                 other conflicts, including in Bosnia. To
and who are now experience psycho-            tions for drugs for illnesses that the                ease the pain of trauma, the MSF team
logical decompensation (traumas and           réseau de référence cannot, in princi-                favored/sought to “build connections
injuries from the first intifada take on      ple, take on/care for. But in general,                severed by trauma » and « the deve-
meaning after the event). Their disor-        most of the chronic illnesses are aggra-              lopment/working out of an account
ders reappear as the result of new            vated or reactivated (cardiovascular ill-             where trauma led to shut-down” (6).
traumatic events. This is also the case       ness ; digestive disorders, primarily                 The MSF psychologists are assisted in
of young adolescents who as children          ulcers ; skin problems). Family mem-                  their clinical work by their Palestinian


                                                                                                                                               9
                                            P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
     interpreters. The cornerstone of the          firing remains, too. Because one of the
     patient/therapist relationship, they are      key limits to the work of the MSF doc-
     the « voice » of the doctors and              tors and psychologists resides in the
     psychologists and play an essential           physical risks they take daily to reach
     intermediary role in a complex politi-        the most isolated Palestinian families.
     cal and cultural environment.                 Negotiations with the Israeli authori-
     On a regular basis, discussions of cases      ties underway since the outset of this
     from the field are also organized bet-        program do not always guarantee
     ween MSF expatriates and an Israeli           adequate and frequent safe access to
     psychologist based in Israel (she can-        civilian populations in the most-
     not travel to the Palestinian territories).   exposed areas. This limit imposes fre-
     These meetings promote clinical               quent interruptions of treatment,
     exchanges among trauma “professio-            delaying expected visits by several
     nals” outside the Palestinian territories.    hours or several days. Such interrup-
     Finally, MSF’s consulting psychiatrists       tions are particularly difficult for the
     and the organization’s operational            families sustained by our care.
     staff meet regularly to guarantee/assu-
     re the supervision of MSF teams               Conclusion
     (nationals and expatriates) and, if           In conclusion, we simply want to
     necessary, to redirect the mission’s          underline/emphasize the intricate rela-
     medical goals.                                tionship between two sets of activities
                                                   undertaken by MSF in the Palestinian
     The limits of our actions                     territories: on the one hand, bearing
     The first limitation is that this kind of     witness and speaking out and, on the
     care cannot substitute for regular            other, providing medical care. This                     (1) See the Internet site www.paris.msf.org
                                                                                                           and the web pages on MSF’s activities in
     psychotherapeutic treatment. Certain          involves gathering factual evidence,                    the Palestinian territories (in French).
     kinds of problems cannot be addres-           supported and enriched by daily
                                                                                                           (2) According to the Palestine-Israel Journal,
     sed in the former context because of          contacts between MSF doctors and                        (Volume VII, 2000), the number of Jewish
     the conditions and techniques for             psychologists and Palestinian families                  settlements in the Palestinian territories
                                                                                                           increased from 3,176 in 1976 to 200,000
     maintaining        the      relationships.    on the Gaza Strip and in Hebron. In                     in 2001.
     However, the presence of the MSF              the face of their suffering, we are
                                                                                                           (3) Palestine is a « scattered » territory. Its area
     doctor provides, if necessary, the            responsible for describing the war’s                    totals 5 200 sq. km. The population of the West
     access to psychotropic drug prescrip-         consequences on them. It involves                       Bank, with more than 4, 000 sq. km, is 1.8
                                                                                                           million Palestinians (333 people/sq. km) and
     tions for the most serious cases until        relating that which we witness in the                   the area is divided into three separate zones.
     the patient can be referred elsewhere.        Palestinian territories.                                Zone A, made up of 13 percent of the West
                                                                                                           Bank, constitutes the territories placed under
     Another limit, if it is truly such, is the    This has particular therapeutic impor-                  the Palestinian Authority’s exclusive control.
     number of Palestinian patients and            tance for the families. The considera-                  Since September 2000, the Israeli Army has
                                                                                                           conducted regular incursions into Jenin,
     families who seek the intervention            ble media attention to this conflict                    Hebron, Nablus and Ramallah. Zone B includes
     of the MSF team. The numbers are              makes no place for individuals to tell                  the territories under shared authority, but the
                                                                                                           Israeli Army is responsible for the area’s security.
     quite high ; even limitless. That is why      their stories. We are trying to compen-                 Zone C is under the direct authority of the
     priority is given to treating the most        sate for that lack by publishing regular                Israeli Army. In Gaza, 1 million Palestinians live
                                                                                                           on a 400 sq. km. strip of land (2,758 people/sq.
     fragile patients who are suffering from       descriptive reports on the consequen-                   km) under the control of the Palestinian
     extreme stress, multiple depressive           ces of violence against the civilian                    Authority. Six thousand settlers occupy 30
                                                                                                           percent of the territory. Finally, 250,000
     states and PTSD. Each month, every            population.                                             Palestinians live under Israeli administration in
     MSF psychologist and psychiatrist                                                                     Jerusalem.

     conducts some forty individual or                                                                     (4) In August 2001, more than 1,400,000
     family consultations (with approxima-             Pierre Salignon is an attorney and                  Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza
                                                                                                           Strip were totally/entirely/completely
     tely 100 people). The response to                    program director at MSF’s Paris,                 dependent on U.N. and Palestinian Red Cross
     MSF’s treatment is very positive.                          France operational center.                 medical and food aid. The unemployment rate
                                                                                                           was close to 70 percent.
     Palestinian families themselves often                      Fouad Ismael is the head
     identify those individuals in greatest                           of MSF’s Jerusalem.                  (5) MSF teams in the Gaza Strip and Hebron
                                                                                                           take the same form : a doctor, psychologist,
     need and refer them to the MSF team.             Elena Sgorbati is program director                   psychiatrist and a non-medical field coordinator.
                                                                                                           They are supported by Palestinian interpreters
     This medical intervention is underway                            at MSF’s Barcelona,                  and drivers as well as by administrative
     today in the Gaza Strip and the                             Spain operational center.                 personnel, for a total of 23 staff.
     Hebron district of the West Bank.                                                                     (6) In Humanitarian psychiatry in the former
     The daily pain, the adjustments requir-                                                               Yugoslavia and Armenia, PUF, 1995,
                                                                                                           “Psychological support to former Bosnian
     ed to deal with material constraints                                                                  Muslim detainees and their families,” MSF’s
     and human limits still remain for the                                                                 mission, by Yves Gozlan and Pierre Salignon.
     MSF teams. The fear of bombing and


10
                                                   P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
          Psychiatry plays an increasing role in humanitarian aid.
       And mental health intervention occurs while traumatic events
                             are still underway.



Treatment
      for sorrow      BY CHRISTIAN LACHAL AND MARIE-ROSE MORO




M
                 édecins Sans Frontières       Mental health care providers must                     ted for mental health services are
                 has been active in            adopt new cultural perspectives                       members of groups and cultures.
                 Palestine since 1993.         Psychiatry today plays an increasingly                They have their own knowledge base
                 We have worked with           important role in the field of humani-                as well as their own social and cultu-
                 child victims of the          tarian medicine, with growing num-                    ral representations of health, illness,
first intifada, Palestinian prisoners,         bers of psychologists and psychiatrists               trauma and family. When we work
malnourished infants and their                 joining health care teams responding                  outside our own culture we must be
mothers and, since September 2001,             to humanitarian disasters. The major                  conscious of differences and familiar
with children and families in the midst        NGOs are instituting mental health                    with others’ collective responses. To
of the current Israeli-Palestinian             programs and developing techniques                    provide humanitarian aid, partici-
conflict in Gaza and Hebron. Our pro-          for psychological care. Psychological                 pants must undergo a process of per-
gram initially provided medical care           trauma is not a new subject, but it                   sonal development and change. This
but given the situation, soon expan-           takes on new dimensions in programs                   extends well beyond the preparatory
ded to include psychological services          that assign health care providers –                   (and uneven) briefings that expatria-
because “humanitarian aide does not            often young volunteers who want to                    tes receive. They must develop their
address only physical needs. It must           work outside their own cultural set-                  own approach to adapting to their
respond to humans in their complexi-           tings – to conflict and catastrophe                   new work setting and to cultural and
ty and, even, their very essence.              sites. These psychiatric humanitarian                 current developments in the world
Restoring people to a state in which           aid workers often say they are inade-                 that will be their temporary home.
they can exercise choice, freedom and          quately trained and prepared for such                 This involves, simultaneously, strug-
the ability to act on the world is as          work. They want to be able to rely on                 gle and enrichment. Such a shift in
essential as feeding them, keeping             well-defined concepts of humanita-                    perspective allows humanitarian
them warm and nursing them.”                   rian psychiatry, use specific tech-                   mental health care providers to use
(Martin, 1995, p.18). This suggests            niques and evaluate results. They                     their own emotions and internal
that by connecting and coordinating            would also like to tailor their actions               conflicts as professional resources.
with other aid efforts, psychiatric inter-     to the contexts in which they interve-                Even as they struggle to hold onto
vention assumes its rightful role in           ne. To be able to modify their approa-                their identity and knowledge base,
humanitarian response; its goal being:         ches they must understand the indivi-                 humanitarian aid expatriates often
to care for human beings in their com-         dual and collective experience of the                 face powerful forces pressing them to
plexity. The four elements of a com-           people for whom they will be caring.                  change their habits, ideas and beliefs.
prehensive mental health program are           This suggests why humanitarian psy-                   In that sense, voluntary expatriation
comforting, treating, witnessing and           chiatry falls under the rubric of trans-              can be seen as a form of human
training.                                      cultural psychiatry. Individuals targe-               migration.

                                                                                                                                               11
                                             P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
     Children
     of Hebron
     Ali, an 11-year-old boy
     5/16/01
     “Jerusalem in danger.”
         Ali lives in a neighborhod that was bombed by
     tanks. “An old man was hit in the head by a rocket.”
     (March 2001 incursion into the Territories.)




     Marwan,
     a 5-year-old boy                                       Aya,
     4/30/01                                                a 13-year-old girl
     “A bullet in the head.”                                5/02/01
         The house where Marwan                             “A girl is wounded and tells
     lives was hit by bombing.                              her mother.”
     His 13-year-old brother was                                Aya lives in the old city.
     wounded in the head. Marwan                            Her family has been haras-
     draws a gun with bullets                               sed by soldiers and settlers
     shooting out of the barrel.                            for a long time.
     As soon as he hears firing, his
     mother says, he lifts his hand
     to his head.




                                                                                                    Safouan,
                                                                                                    a 3-year-old boy
                                                                                                    4/30/01
                                                                                                    « Vrrr, vrrr, vrrr! »
                                                                                                        This is the noise that 2 to 3
                                                                                                    year olds make to imitate the
                                                                                                    sound of gunfire. Safouan lived
                                                                                                    through three weeks of Israeli
                                                                                                    incursions in his neighborhood,
                                                                                                    including bombings.




12
                                                   P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
Acknowledging emotional trauma                and organizational structures) and has                We can point to five levels for
and the role of the witness                   put certain professionals, including                  specific intervention: accounts of
Since its founding, Médecins sans             logisticians, resuscitation specialists,              traumatic events by those who
Frontières has sought legitimacy from         surgeons and emergency care nurses,                   have experienced them, indivi-
international public opinion, not from        on the front lines. But this is the first             dual traumatic experiences, col-
national governments. This is where           time we have practiced real emergen-                  lective and individual adaptive
MSF breaks ranks with other interna-          cy psychiatry; that is, intervening in                reactions and, lastly, the psycho-
tional organizations like the Red Cross.      the midst of traumatic events.                        pathological level at which struc-
Volunteers provide care and speak out         Previously we intervened to ease                      tural, lasting and often major
about what they have seen. They on            events’ after-effects. Now we are there               disorders appear.
the media to make the public aware of         with people as the trauma occurs and
the suffering of the people they are          even growing in intensity. We provide                 Accounts of traumatic events
caring for. But it quickly became clear       psychological care to strengthen their                This is the level of description provided
that the act of speaking out had to be        defenses and allow them to hold on in                 by all who experienced traumatic
distinguished from some humanitarian          spite of everything.                                  events like those Gaza Strip residents
media circus stripped of ethical foun-        We address the effects of trauma on                   have faced since the second intifada
dation. Bearing witness means giving          infants, children, adolescents and their              began in September 2000. Descrip-
voice to the direct experience of the         families. Many fields recognize the                   tions of the events reveal people’s fears
collective trauma of specific popula-         significance of this concept, which                   and address the aggressive and dehu-
tions, like refugees or particular ethnic     now extends well beyond the medical                   manizing nature of Israeli Army
groups. It also means meeting people          setting. As reflected in the term PTSD                actions. These situations are obviously
face-to- face. In such encounters,            (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorders), the                traumatic. Army actions include des-
affected persons express their anguish;       broader concept has contributed to a                  troying property using bulldozers,
an anguish felt collectively as well as       recognition of suffering that is not                  occupying houses, threatening resi-
individually and within the family            limited to the spontaneous empathy                    dents with tanks, rounding people up,
group. This testimony has a profound
effect on those who listen to and
absorb it. They are moved to respond
on a medical and material level, as well               Humanitarian aid workers intervening
as on an emotional level. One of the                  overseas must change their practices and
emotional responses is, clearly, the
impulse to ease pain and restore the                 beliefs even as they maintain their identity.
full humanity of people who have suf-               In that sense, voluntary expatriation can be
fered violence’s dehumanising effects                    seen as a form of human migration.
and other painful experiences. This
calls for consolation in the most active
sense of the word. But although it may
be a necessary action, it is not a suffi-     expressed in cases of war, conflict, per-             patrolling at night and setting up
cient response. Profound trauma and           secution or catastrophe. Empathy, our                 checkpoints. Describing and docu-
despair prevent many people from              capacity to put ourselves in another’s                menting traumatic events, as well as
expressing themselves. Others –               place, is an instantaneous mental                     distinguishing factual accounts from
including children and babies – do not        state. It is emotionally-based and situa-             those distorted or exaggerated by
or can no longer speak. The process of        tionally-dependent. Opinion is mobili-                fear, is a useful part of the evidence-
speaking out and bearing witness              zed on the basis of empathy and of                    gathering process. It also allows the
requires that people be heard. It allows      information presented visually or in                  psychologist to accurately represent
them to voice their despair and to ima-       writing. When attention wanes, that                   the experiences of people she or he is
gine a kind of treatment that would           shift is not caused by moral weakness                 treating. “I often treat people who
meet not only their physical needs but        or laziness. Rather, empathy simply                   want to show me where an event
restore their emotional capacity as           evaporates. Compassion is ephemeral.                  occurred,” one psychologist said. “I
well. That capacity is clearly affected       Humanitarian workers in the field may                 think going there permits expression
by the crises they have experienced           themselves sense empathy wax and                      and abreaction, an uncovering of the
and continue to experience.                   wane. They may also feel its effects,                 trauma. It often allows a person to
Humanitarian aid settings are, first          which can both energize and paralyse.                 return to a place where he or she has
and foremost, emergency settings.             Naming and bearing witness is quite                   not dared to go for a long time.” The
Experience in managing emergencies            different. This process allows everyone               media’s approach to telling stories of
(including natural catastrophes and           – those who experience suffering and                  traumatic events often overlaps with
war) has led humanitarian aid organi-         those who witness it – to identify and                ours. There are, however, multiple ver-
zations to develop specific expertise         represent it in the psychological life of             sions of the same events. Our
(including ready-to-use kits, protocols       the individual and the group.                         approach is a grassroots one. It allows


                                                                                                                                                13
                                            P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                                                                                                  Mohammed, a 6-year-old boy
                                                                                                                                    10/15/01
                                                                                     “A tank is destroying trees. Soldiers are beating a boy
                                                                                      and carrying him off. A boy is throwing stones at the
                                                                                     tanks. My sister, who is in prison because she tried to
                                                                                                                              stab a soldier.”
                                                                                        Mohammed’s sister, 14, presents with psycholo-
     Sahar,                                                                                gical trauma linked to three violent incidents:
     a 10-year-old girl                                                                 an attack by a settler’s dog in June, a beating by
     10/16/01
                                                                                         soldiers (for which she was hospitalized) in July,
     “The soldiers are occupying                                                        and the death of a schoolmate who was killed in
     my school. They’re telling us                                                     August. Her attempted killing of the Israeli soldier
     to leave.”                                                                                                   took place in September.
         Sahar had to leave her
     school, which was occupied
     by the Israeli army. On the
     way to her new school, she
     has been subjected to more
     attacks: tear gas, firing by
     soldiers, stone-throwing by
     settlers.




                                                                                                        Moataz, a 5-year-old boy
                                                                                                                                    11/05/01
                                                                                                  “A girl who looked like scrambled eggs.”
                                                                                                       Moataz saw two people mangled
                                                                                                    by a helicopter-launched bomb fired
                                                                                                   near his house. He found an ear near
                                                                                                      the refrigerator in his kitchen. This
                                                                                                  occurred in October 2001, during the
                                                                                                           Israeli incursion and bombing.




14
                                     P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
us to see events through the eyes of           diers and even, in extreme cases,                     duals internalise their emotions in the
those who experienced and suffered             when soldiers have occupied the roof.                 form of future disorders that may
from them, as opposed to seeking a             Residents know their houses will be                   manifest physiologically, psychologi-
factual, “objective” account. Sharing          requisitioned or destroyed if they leave              cally or behaviorally. Prevalent warti-
tragic moments by listening to people          so they stay on, living in fear. Even if              me emotions also include rage and
recount them may be the only way to            resistance is an individual action, in                impotent anger. But whatever the
provide care, but it is significant. “We       which an individual assumes all perso-                “quality” of emotions revealed at the
try to support the residents but really        nal and familial risk, the act is a collec-           time, the challenge is reining in the
all we can do is be there,” a psycholo-        tive adaptive reaction. Not all adaptive              “quantity” of emotions.” If emotions
gist in Gaza said in December 2000.            reactions involve that level of heroism.              can be mastered and controlled early
“Our words seem pathetic. They                 Others include regular, on-going                      on, they may not emerge later as a
always say they were waiting for us.           conversations about the current or                    disruptive, disorganizing flood.
They talk about us with their neigh-           prior days’ events. When a single fami-
bors and ask each other when we will           ly member is designated as the one                    Pathology with known disorders
be there.”                                     who is suffering and whose responses                  Acute states can be distinguished from
                                               are judged abnormal, such behavior                    anxious states, which are more com-
Individual traumatic experiences               protects other family members from                    mon particularly among children.
This is the level of personal description      their own tendency to react in inadap-                They may develop an excessive
provided by an individual who has              tive ways. On a collective level, we                  attachment to the mother or an older
experienced one or more traumatic              observe reactions of fear, despair and                sibling, refuse to leave the house or
events. Gaining a complete grasp of
the experience requires going beyond
clichés. Little by little, the person will
open up and in the telling, begin                        Rather than seeking factual, “objective”
to construct a specific and personal                     accounts, our approach allows us to see
meaning of events. The experience is
not solely negative but encompasses a
                                                          events through the eyes of those who
broader, holistic awareness. Recount-                      experienced and suffered from them.
ing the event in a therapeutic setting
may help to prevent the onset of futu-
re psychological disorders. People             revolt as well as rumors and acts of                  even a particular room or develop
have a tremendous need to tell their           solidarity. It is important to monitor all            sleep disorders and awaken screaming
stories of trauma and few have politi-         these emotional shifts and symbols                    from nightmares. They can sleep only
cal goals for doing so. Rather by put-         (for example, martyrs and olive trees                 when close to the mother. Sometimes
ting words to disturbing and disorga-          in Gaza) because they change quickly                  these children develop a state of per-
nizing experiences, they seek reassu-          and serve as indicators of the popula-                manent, invasive fear with startle and
rance and to restore their humanity.           tion’s overall condition.                             hypervigilance responses. Among
They want to communicate with                                                                        adults, painful conditions like joint and
someone who is close enough to                 Individual adaptive reactions                         limb pain and headaches are com-
understand what they have been                 The reactions observed are the emo-                   mon. Some may develop genuine
through, yet removed enough so that            tions visible in the face of danger and               psychosomatic pathologies like gastric
they are not just repeating their story        violence, including the experience of                 ulcers. True psychotic decompensa-
ad nauseum. People will often talk             intense fear and its physical signs,                  tion may be observed, in which the
repeatedly among themselves about              including trembling, unsteadiness,                    person shows transitory signs of insa-
events, though the consequences may            involuntary urination, nervousness                    nity, thereby escaping an intolerable
be negative as much as positive.               and, sometimes, fainting. We next                     reality. Post-traumatic stress disorders
Talking to a “health worker,” in the           observe reactions that represent an                   appear later, affecting sleep and
broadest sense of the term, initiates a        effort to master fear: denial, losing                 all major activities, including eating,
therapeutic interaction that can trans-        oneself in daily tasks, participating in              learning and daily living tasks. The war
form the traumatic experience, allow-          the confrontations. In many cases                     context may revive prior states of
ing the individual to move beyond it           people are virtually trapped and can-                 psychological decompensation. The
rather than remain imprisoned by it.           not remove themselves from the situa-                 most vulnerable individuals are at
                                               tion. Take the example of houses                      greatest risk in such situations. Earlier
Collective adaptive reactions                  caught under nighttime attack, with                   emotional problems may, themselves,
A common example is the behavior of            the incessant, frightening noise of                   have resulted from prior trauma. In
people who remain in their homes               tanks rumbling by and children crying                 extreme situations or immediately fol-
even when, for example, the building           and clinging. What are people to do?                  lowing them, physiological com-
is the target of bullet or rocket fire or      What is the appropriate adaptive                      plaints are often more common than
regularly attacked by groups of sol-           behavior? In such situations, indivi-                 psychological ones. This is particularly


                                                                                                                                                 15
                                             P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
     common in cultures that do not dis-         name the horror and speak the
     tinguish between physical and emo-          unspeakable if we are to keep hope
     tional illnesses or, in the simplest        alive and hold onto the dreams neces-
     terms, suffering. Sleep disorders are       sary to work in these extreme circums-
     often observed and are among the            tances. We must do this to break the
     range of affected physical functions        cycle and prevent trauma from recur-
     including eating, sleeping, breathing,      ring in successive generations. We
     elimination and sexuality. Over-            must heal human suffering, even
     whelming fatigue is common. Physical        when it is unspoken and its wounds
     functions are disorganized and child-       invisible. We must, therefore, begin by
     ren, in particular, manifest partial        speaking of it.



                  Physiological complaints are more
                  common than psychological ones.
              This is particularly true in cultures that do
                not distinguish between physical and
                           emotional illnesses.

     transitory regression. For example,
     children who live with fear on a daily         Christian Lachal and Marie-Rose
     basis can experience enuresis. Often                 Moro are child and adolescent
     people consume large amounts of                  psychiatrists. Marie-Rose Moro is
     food or conversely, may be unable to         an ethnopsychiatrist, psychiatrist, and
     eat, complaining of problems swal-               psycholanalyst, and director of the
     lowing. They may present with weight         Child and Adolescent Psychopathology
     loss problems. (A common joke               Department of the Avicenne de Bobigny
     among MSF’s female team members             Hospital, where she established a cross-
     in Hebron, both expatriates and               cultural practice. She is director of the
     Palestinians, was that “fear and dan-           review, L’Autre and organizes MSF’s
     ger have a silver lining – they keep you                     mental health missions.
     slim!”) If the mother-child relationship
     is disrupted, especially if the mother
                                                  Bibliographie:
     experiences post-traumatic problems,         Moro M. R. et Lebovici S. (Eds), Psychiatrie huma-
     children may be particularly affected.       nitaire en ex-Yougoslavie et en Arménie: face au
                                                  traumatisme, PUF, 1995.
     Traumatic losses and bereavements            Martin D., « Psychiatrie et catastrophes. Le point
     may also generate medium-term                de vue d’un humanitaire », pp. 17-22, in
                                                  Psychiatrie humanitaire en ex-Yougoslavie et en
     psychological consequences. Depres-          Arménie: face au traumatisme.
     sion may have long-term consequen-           Lachal C., « Des adolescents en guerre », in
                                                  L’Autre, cliniques, cultures et sociétés, pp. 67-86,
     ces for child development and the            vol. 2, n° 1; Paris, éditions La Pensée sauvage,
     parent-child bond. As events recede in       2001.
                                                  Palestine-Israel Journal of Politics, Economics and
     time, a variety of symptoms may              Culture, n° 4, Jérusalem, automne 1994.
     appear: fears and phobias; behavioral
     problems and disorders; aggressivity
     and violence; learning disorders, lan-
     guage disorders; mother-infant rela-
     tionship disorders; avoidance beha-
     viors; blunted affect, inhibition, passi-
     vity and depressive states. The rela-
     tionship of events to the initial trauma
     is obvious. The list can be expanded
     to include the bitterness that feeds
     hatred and is passed on from one
     generation to the next.
     Deeper understanding improves treat-
     ment and care. We must be willing to


16
                                                 P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
Palestinian
                                      Interior
GAZA – HÉBRON
NOVEMBER   2000         –       OCTOBER                              2001

                         Médecins Sans Frontières’ medical and
                       psychological teams tell the story of a year
                       spent working among the most vulnerable
                          sectors of the Palestinian population.




                                                                            17
             P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                                          LEBANON



                               Ha fa

                                   Nazareth

                                                  Jenin
                                                       SYRIA

                                                  J nine
                                                                     Fragmented
                      Netanya

                Qalqiliya
                    Tel-Aviv
                                                  Tulkarem
                                                  Naplouse
                                                  Nablus

                                              CISJORDANIE
                                              WEST BANK
                                                  Ramallah
                                                                       Territories
                                                  J richo
                                                  Jericho
                          Jerusalem
                          J rusalem               Bethl em
                                                  Bethlehem
         GAZA
             Gaza                                 H bron
                                                  Hebron
         STRIP



                          Beersheba
                                                JORDAN

     EGYPT                 ISRAEL
     20 km




                                                                                                               Erez
                                                                                 Beit Layia
                                                                                                                    Beit Hanoun
                                                                                              Gaza

                                                                  Netzarim
       Access roads leading to
       the settlements divide                              El Nuseirat                                     ISRAEL
       the Gaza Strip into three
       sections. These divisions
       have become internal                     Deir el-Balah
       frontiers, which the                                                           Kfar Darom
       Israeli army opens and
       closes at will and
       depending on events.
                                                                               Khan Younis

                    El Mawassi

                                       Rafah




                                                       2 km
                               EGYPT




18
                                                   P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                                                                                      Israeli settlement
                                                                                      Palestinian area
The Palestinian Territories’                                                          Zone under Palestinian Authority
                                                                                      control
“patchwork quilt” design
                                                                                      Zone under Israeli control
is visible on maps. Imposed by
                                                                                      Zone under Israeli forces’ fire
the Israeli government in 2001,                                                       (destroyed or annexed since
the fragmentation makes it                                                            the beginning of the Intifada)

increasingly difficult for aid
workers to gain access
to patients and deprives
Palestinians of freedom
of movement.




                                                          El Arroub
        Kharas
                                                                                                The old city of Hebron
                                                                                                has the distinctive
                                                                                                feature of being the only
                                                       Sa ir                                    West Bank Palestinian
                                                                                                community to be
                                                                                                occupied internally by
                                      Halhul
                                                                                                250 settlers who are
         Tarqumiya                                                                              protected by 2,000
                                                                                                Israeli solders. The result
                                                                                                is extreme, ongoing
                                                                                                tension between the two
              Taffuh                                                                            communities.
                                               Qiryat Arb a
                                                         Bani Na im
                          H bron
                          Hebron

       Dura




                   El Fawar
                                                                            City of Hebron
                                                                                           Area of Hebron
                                    Yatta                                                  under Palestinian control

                                                                                           Area of Hebron
2 km                                                                                       under Israeli control



                                                                                                                              19
                              P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                                                                                      A man stands in front of the house across the
                               MSF psycho-medical                                     street from theirs, right next to the Israeli mili-
                                                                                      tary station. We see women and children at
                               team in Gaza
                                                                                      the windows. The man lives here with his
                                                                                      family and invites us in. To enter, we have to
                                                                                      go around the corner where the confronta-
                      S U N D AY, N O V E M B E R 1 2 , 2 0 0 0                       tions occur. People have been wounded and
                                                                                      killed right here. As we climb the stairs, we
                      RAFAH                                                           have to duck as we pass openings – bullet
                                                                                      holes and gaps in the walls the size of a hand.
                      Life under                                                      Two stories, two families; one of which has left
                                                                                      to take refuge somewhere else. While we talk
                      gunfire                                                         in a closed-off room, we can hear firing close
                                                                                      by and our eyes begin to sting from the tear-




                      V
                                    isit to the Salah’edine district.                 gas. The children are calm and quiet. Their
                                    We’ve come back to see an 8 year-                 expressions are serious as they listen to their

 2000                               old boy who’s had problems since
                                    the floor of the house where he
                                                                                      father. Every night they leave with their
                                                                                      mother to sleep somewhere else. The father
 September 28                       was sleeping with his brothers was                returns alone to keep watch over the house.
 Ariel Sharon         destroyed. He’s a little better since our last visit            He, too fears that a fire could break out. The
                      but is still fragile. He keeps saying he is afraid              15 year-old boy has not joined the confronta-
 visits the Al-Aqsa
                      and anxious. His family finds him changed.                      tions. Or so he says in front of his father. The
 mosque in            They say he is worried now, not cheerful like                   father has tried to talk the young people out
 Jerusalem,           he was before.                                                  of participating because he cannot bear to see
 sparking             We hear gunfire overhead. We talk with the                      them injured anymore. He can’t stand that
                      boy and his older brother (The child did not                    this is happening so close to his house but he
 Palestinian
                      want to be alone with us.). We help him to                      realizes he’s powerless to stop them.
 uprisings. The       express his feelings and to tell us what he
 second intifada,     experienced when the house was attacked.
 known as the Al-
                      The street is very exposed and we see a house                   KHAN YUNIS
                      riddled with bullet holes. We ask people on
 Aqsa Intifada,
 begins.
                      the street if it is occupied. An older, childless
                      couple live there. The husband is a former
                                                                                      She wants to
 September 30         English teacher. They invite us in and seem
                      very willing to talk. Since the Intifada, they
                                                                                      knock over the
 Fourteen
                      have been living under constant stress. Their                   television
 Palestinians are     house is within firing range of an Israeli milita-


                                                                                      A
 killed by Israeli    ry post just opposite. Bullets have been fired                          refugee camp borders the outskirts of a
 fire, including a    several times through their living room, right                          settlement area on the western edge of
                      where we are sitting and talking. The couple                            town. It is an enclave within a zone
 12-year-old boy,
                      has moved their living quarters to the back                     completely controlled by the Israeli army. The
 Mohammed al-         room of the house. They leave by the back                       furthest houses are exposed to daily confronta-
 Durra. Filmed by     door to visit their neighbors but don’t go far                  tions. The multi-story apartment buildings
 the French 2
                      for fear that a fire may break out when they                    towering over the houses, now empty, are
                      are gone.                                                       riddled with bullet marks.
 television news      They can’t sleep any more and eat little or                     We visit two families living in the two houses at
 team, footage        nothing because it is difficult to take in food.                the end of the alleyway, barely 20 meters
 of his death         The man, 58, complains of joint and muscle                      across from the military installations.
                      pains while his wife, 37, complains of constant                 Confrontations have taken place here since the
 is broadcast
                      fear. Still, they speak with a certain sense of                 beginning of the Intifada. In the last two days,
 around the           humor, thanking God they have no children.                      the clashes have moved 100 meters away.
 world.               Given what’s happening to young people                          They still occur close by, but the extra distance
                      right now, their lives would be much worse.                     is enough to restore a bit of calm for these
                      Despite their casual comments, we sense a                       families.
                      muted anguish below the surface in their bit-                   Nearly all the families have left the district, at
                      ter comments about the Palestinian Authority.                   least at night. The father speaks. He is very ner-
                      “They’ve lined their pockets and we don’t                       vous and his words rush out. He has seven chil-
                      trust them.” They feel isolated, abandoned,                     dren, ages 2 to 14. He fears for their lives and
                      and gripped by deep pessimism.                                  their health. He no longer works and is very

20
                                         P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
worried. He describes the family’s earlier trage-         find help. He saw wounded and one dead.
dies before the war. His oldest daughter, 8, was          They had to drag them across the sand to
killed in 1993. On the day of her death, she              reach the ambulance. They had been hit in the
was wearing T-shirt with a picture of Saddam              leg and there was a lot of blood. He cannot
Hussein. Two of his brothers were also killed,            stop thinking about the young people he saw
one in 1976 and the other in 1991 during                  suffering in front of him. He knows that two
the confrontations. A few days ago, as she                had to have limbs amputated. These images of
watched images of the Intifada, his 7 year-old            death will not leave him. Later, he tells us
daughter wanted to knock over the television.             about other problems, which suggest severe
He is under permanent stress, doesn’t sleep               anxiety. He asks us to come back so that he can
and has seen youths wounded. He speaks of                 speak to us privately, which we do.
his impotence in the face of events. “We                  The others point out another, younger man
Palestinians are educated and intelligent, but            whom they said was in very bad shape.
we don’t have a chance. Your visit brings us a            “Yesterday, he was like a crazy man.” The man
little comfort.”                                          explained that about a month ago, around the
                                                          time the Intifada began, his father, an elderly
                                                          man, suffocated during a teargas attack.
M O N D AY, N O V E M B E R 1 3                           Seeing his father in difficulty, the young man
                                                          rushed to help him and both were exposed.
EREZ                                                      The man confided that he’d had difficulty res-
                                                          training his fear. He carried his father, who had
The fear of tear                                          lost consciousness, outside the range of fire.
                                                          Yesterday he panicked during another tear gas
gas                                                       attack. He burst into his neighbor’s house
                                                          through a window, seeking safety there for


T
       his Bedouin village is located across from         himself, his pregnant wife and their two young
       a spot where clashes occur daily. We               children. He lost control of
       meet people who are worn out by the                himself and today his wife is
situation. They live near the road, with military         in bed, ill.
installations facing them and the Beit Hanoun             We visited her. Her problems                 As we talk,
district behind. Gunfire passes overhead and              are the result of stress. We
alongside them. The camp is fairly poor and               were able to speak with her                 we can hear
nearly all the men work in Israel. We sat first in        and she responded positively.              shooting close
the courtyard of one of the houses to talk with           We will see her again tomor-                 by. The gas
the people there – men, women and very                    row with the doctor for a
young children. Most of the houses are built of           physical examination which
                                                                                                     begins to sting
sheetmetal. Some have real walls but are still            can be very useful in such                     our eyes.
not very solid and offer no protection against            cases, given her physical
gunfire or teargas. Countless bullet holes pock           symptoms. We will continue
the “walls” of these homes. Israeli Defense               to provide follow-up psycho-
Force installations loom over the village. The            logical care.
soldiers are invisible behind camouflage nets,            Everyone expresses recurring worries about
but you can sense their presence and their                exposure to tear gas. They are all afraid that
weapons, permanently aimed and at the ready.              men could become sterile and that illnesses
The threat is invisible but omnipresent.                  that may appear 20 years later. After the doc-
Today, and for the first time since the Intifada          tor visits one woman, a man wonders, “She’s
began, there have been no confrontations. It is           better today, but what will happen to her
1 p.m. Yesterday at this time we couldn’t have            baby?”
gotten in here. And what about tomorrow?                  The feeling of suffocation following tear gas
We’d be better off returning earlier in the day.          inhalation provokes a sense of imminent
People suffer from the effects of tear gas. They          death, aggravated by the belief that the sub-
can no longer protect themselves and their                stance is a chemical toxin. We were not fami-
children from the new teargas grenades, which             liar with the new teargas canisters. They
contain more concentrated gas. They hold                  contain concentrated gas released in greater
onions under their noses, but this remedy                 quantities than the grenades used before,
doesn’t work anymore.                                     which were made of black rubber and could be
A man reported that young people were                     gripped and thrown into the distance. The
wounded in the confrontations. They hid in                new ones are metal. They spin and become
the village to get away from the shooting and             very hot, making it impossible to grip them.

                                                                                                                       21
                                        P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                                                                                   tly older child shows with the same symptoms.
                    NETZARIM                                                       We talked with the mothers and children to
                                                                                   explain the link between fear and regressions
                    The tanks keep                                                 that may follow. This is a normal reaction to an
                                                                                   abnormal situation. Reassure, comfort, protect
                    passing, back                                                  and cuddle – how can you do this for three or
                                                                                   four children who are all asking for the same
                    and forth                                                      attention?
                                                                                   We will return to the village to care for these


                    F
                     our houses occupy the same patch of land                      families and help them care for the little ones,
                     near this settlement. The houses are just                     who flee the house to take shelter in the gar-
                     behind two buildings the IDF dynamited                        den during every confrontation and threat.
                to clear the area at the junction leading to the
                Netzarim settlement (This is the spot where the
                young boy, Mohammed al Dourra, was killed                          W E D N E S D AY, N O V E M B E R 1 5
                and his father wounded.).
                Four brothers and their families live there, along                 KHAN YUNIS
                                 with their many children. They
                                 are former refugees and built
                                 here in 1990. We sit in the lar-
                                                                                   Laughter, cries
      People are in a
     hypomanic state.
                                 gest room. They understood
                                 why we had come. Only one of
                                                                                   and stones
      They laugh and
                                                                                   T
                                 the fathers is present, along                             his time we visited the other part of the
                                 with two mothers who are wor-                             refugee camp. It is very close to the mili-
     cry; the children           ried about their daughters. One                           tary post and is exposed to gunfire. Many
     are over-excited;           of them keeps asking to leave                     youth come here daily. Several have been killed
      small rocks are            this place. Although the walls                    since the confrontations began.
          thrown.                are sturdy, they don’t seem to                    It’s clear that these people live with permanent
                                 offer much protection any                         stress. The atmosphere is highly-charged.
                                 more. Several people speak at                     Everyone wants to speak at the same time.
                                 once, telling the story of that                   Everyone calls for the doctor.
                endless night when the buildings were blown                        People are in a state I would describe as hypo-
                up. “We didn’t think we’d get out alive.” A girl                   manic. They laugh and cry; the children are
                who was frightened speaks up, encouraged by                        over-excited children; small rocks are thrown.
                her more talkative cousin. The grandmother                         But they are happy to welcome us and to
                joins us and described her fear as she hid under                   explain what they are going through. Those
                the staircase. She wonders if she ought to take                    who have somewhere else to go do not sleep
                drugs to sleep. Outside, we heard the tanks rol-                   here. Every house has a sealed room to protect
                ling back and forth, a reminder of the constant                    against tear gas.
                military presence that no one here can forget.                     During this first visit, we also saw mothers
                Accompanied by their parents, the children                         concerned about their children, a baby who
                leave only to attend school.                                       was failing to thrive and a child who presented
                                                                                   with enuresis.

                    T U E S D AY N O V E M B E R 1 4 ,
                                                                                   T H U R S D AY, N O V E M B E R 1 6
                    EREZ
                                                                                   KHAN YUNIS
                    Regression
                                                                                   Eleven years old
                    W
                                e came back to the village to see the
                                young pregnant women. We are
                                asked to visit a woman and child in
                                                                                   and at war

                                                                                   W
                    another house. Soon, more women and young                                e had a long interview with a
                    children arrive and the house quickly resem-                             woman with a 7 month-old baby,
                    bles a little improvised family health clinic. Two                       which allowed us to discuss a pro-
                    children present with stress-related symptoms.                 blem that was both troubling and shameful
                    A two year-old girl who was toilet-trained has                 to her. Three months ago her baby stopped
                    begun to wet herself again (enuresis). A sligh-                gaining weight. Despite that, the baby pre-

22
                                      P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
An Israeli army armored bulldozer again piles cement blocks at the entrance to the Hebron market in December 2001.

sented with normal psychomotor develop-                   who doesn’t go after school is a coward.              October 12
ment, interacts with others and appears lively.           Everyone goes, it’s impossible not to. Then he        Three Israeli
Above all, it’s the mother’s anxiety that needs           adds that the dead boy, the “chahid “ (mar-
                                                                                                                soldiers are
to be relieved.                                           tyr), was “majnoun” (crazy) and that he pro-
Another mother, whom we had met yester-                   voked the Israeli soldiers by yelling insults and     lynched in
day, came to talk to us about her 5 year-old              exposing his genitals. According to this boy,         Ramallah. The
son’s enuresis. We were able to give her some             the soldiers had aimed at the child. The boy          Israeli army
advice and speak to the boy, who yesterday                hid behind a cement block, stuck out his head
                                                                                                                retaliates.
was behaving like a “tough guy.”                          and was shot in the forehead. Trying to imp-
The baby’s older brother is 11, his eyes spar-            ress us, he spoke without showing sorrow as if        November 9
kling with intelligence. He told us that he               to say, “no one can say I was afraid.” His            The head of
knew the boy who was killed yesterday not                 expression troubled the Palestinian psycholo-
                                                                                                                Fatah’s armed
long after our visit. They were in the same               gist who was with me.
class. He’d just come back from the funeral,              The young people were gathering at the regu-          wing for the
which we had passed. He was proud to speak                lar place where clashes take place and tear gas       southern West
and his tone of voice was almost arrogant as              bombs were fired. We could not stay. We left          Bank is killed in
he told us that he goes to the confrontations,            the camp without being able to notify the
                                                                                                                his car by a
too. He says he’s not afraid and that anyone              people waiting to see the doctor or to tell
                                                          them when we would visit next. A bit further          missile. He is the
                                                          along we were stopped and surrounded by               first victim of
                                                          dozens of young people, mostly girls who had          Israel’s strategy
                                                          come close to the IDF stations and had been
                                                                                                                of targeting and
                                                          teargassed. A sense of collective hysteria was
                                                          in the air, reminding us again of the tense           eliminating
                                                          atmosphere here. One of the girls yelled out,         Palestinian
                                                          “Why do you want to kill us?” The French-
                                                                                                                activists.
                                                          speaking Palestinian psychologist who was
                                                          with us told her that we were French and had
                                                          come to help. The girl did not listen. It’s all the
                                                          same, she said. We left, confused and pensive.

                                                                                                                                     23
                                        P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                       S AT U R D AY, N O V E M B E R 1 8                              As we leave, we pass the youths headed toward
                                                                                       the junction where the confrontations take
                       NETZARIM                                                        place. “We haven’t even started!” they say.

                       The bulldozers                                                  S U N D AY, N O V E M B E R 1 9
                       attack                                                          EREZ
                       W
                                   hile the Netzarim junction was being
                                   cleared (buildings destroyed and trees
                                   uprooted), confrontations broke out
                                                                                       Vulnerable, isolat-
                       at the next intersection in the Al Muragah neigh-
                       borhood, alongside a little mosque where an IDF
                                                                                       ed and helpless

                                                                                       W
                       Jeep is stationed permanently. One or more                                 e visit this IDF-controlled coastal zone
                       tanks patrolled the road taken by the settlers.                            to the far north of the Gaza Strip,
                       This Saturday is unusually quiet. People haven’t                           where the Alai Sina and Nevetz Sala
November 20            experienced calm here for days, especially since                settlements are located. People in this agricultu-
Israeli naval and      Thursday night when bulldozers resumed their                    ral region live surrounded by two Israeli settle-
aerial forces bomb     clean-up operations. Now there’s enough room                    ments. There have been no clashes but fear grips
                       to build a four-lane road.                                      the farmers. The majority no longer sleep here,
official Palestinian
                       We go from house to house. There’s no military                  returning instead to the seaside camp where
buildings in Gaza      presence until 3 p.m. We’ll leave the district at               they are from. They come here to work during
following a bomb       around 4 p.m., after seeing demoralized people                  the day. Only a few families live here full-time but
attack on a bus        who are still experiencing shock and are visibly                they do not sleep soundly.
                       exhausted by sleepless nights. Their anxiety is                 Several Bedouin families live here, too. They
carrying settler
                       relentless; it is seen, heard and spoken.                       moved in when the Palestinian Authority arrived
children.              A young woman with first aid training offers to                 and are scattered throughout the zone. Their
November 24            take us to the houses where the residents are                   way of life is very traditional and clannish, unlike
                       most affected. She is very concerned about the                  those we saw at Erez, who are more settled.
Houses are
                       population’s suffering. We identified at least two              We visited one of these families, particularly
destroyed and          people who need individual care: a 27 year-old                  exposed to gunfire from tanks and the advanced
trees uprooted         man whose mother came to talk to us and a hou-                  IDF station positioned at the settlement’s entran-
along the              sewife who lives in one of the houses along the                 ce, some 100 meters away. The family feels
                       road. During the night, the family saw the bull-                extremely vulnerable, isolated and helpless.
perimeter of the
                       dozer roll up to their house and stop a few meters              When night falls, they are unable to sleep from
Gaza settlements.      away after having smashed the fence and the                     anxiety. They moved to this region six years ago
December 9             well at the entrance to the house. The woman                    because they liked the area. (They came from
Ehud Barak resigns     asked for help, unable to cope any longer.                      the south.) Since then it has become a nightma-
                       Two weeks ago, another family watched its                       re and they dream of safety that does not now
as prime minister
                       home turned into a firing base. Israeli soldiers                exist. One of the men who greeted us is asth-
and elections are      cordoned off the empty house to set up opera-                   matic. His asthma attacks have become more
scheduled for          tions and shoot. One of the little girls is visibly             frequent since the events began. We offer to
February 6, 2001.
                       very frightened (we would return later to see                   return as soon as possible with a doctor who can
                       her) because the family had just moved back into                provide appropriate care for the entire family. We
December 20            the house today.                                                did not see the women or all the children.
According to press     In another house, owned by the sheikh and
reports, more          across from the mosque, a young woman had a
                       miscarriage a few days earlier. A month ago, her                NOVEMBER 20
deaths occurred
                       18 month-old baby daughter died from a tear
during two weeks       gas attack. (She was hospitalized but could not                 EREZ
of the Intifada        be saved.)
– 344, including       Large bullet holes are visible at another house
                       where the family is on constant alert, watching
                                                                                       The past
292 Palestinians –
than during
                       and waiting. The father and son, a pharmacist,
                       are solid and steady. Four days ago, another
                                                                                       resurfaces

                                                                                       T
all of 1987.           woman in another house had a miscarriage. She                        hird visit to the Bedouin village of Erez. We
                       says she is fine, strong and unafraid of the sol-                    are scheduled to conduct a personal inter-
                       diers. She and her husband would be run over                         view with a 39 year-old man about pro-
                       by the bulldozers before they would leave.                      blems he’s had for three years but which have

24
                                          P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
been revived by the current situation. The long,           When I asked the youngest his name and how
in-depth interview revealed that he suffers from           he felt, his father answered for him, explaining
post-traumatic stress resulting from past expe-            that the child stutters as a result of a traumatic
riences, some of which certainly date to his child-        experience when he was 5. He was alone in a
hood and which may or may not be related to                car waiting for his father. Suddenly, a huge,
the political situation. His condition is not acute        vicious, barking dog appeared, circling the car
but he experiences persistent anxiety that pre-            and terrorizing the child, who screamed until
sents in both his physical and emotional status.           his father returned. This took place in Saudi
                                                           Arabia, where the family was living at the time.
                                                           Since then, the boy has stuttered. He has
T U E S D AY, N O V E M B E R 2 1                          received no treatment. I turned to speak to him
                                                           and asked him to explain the experience. He
DEIR EL-BALAH                                              related what happened and his eyes filled with
                                                           tears. He was very touching and we were
The day after                                              moved. He is very intelligent, does well at
                                                           school and is very open to how we might help
the bombings                                               him. He would like to be treated. I mentioned
                                                           the Palestinian organizations and suggested


L
      ast night, Gaza was bombed from 6 p.m.               that we contact them to arrange psychological
      until 8:45 p.m. We had planned to go the             care. The father agreed.
      south of the Gaza Strip to meet the fami-            The second patient is a man with visible pro-
lies previously seen on November 12. Among                 blems. His face is contorted and he twists his
them was a little boy we’d seen twice before.              fingers compulsively. His older brother explains
But we were stopped at the Kissufim roadblock,             his situation. The man has severe attacks,
which is closed to Palestinians. Our car was not           including catatonic states in which his body stif-
adequately identified so we gave up for today.             fens, he pulls his hair and hits his head against
In light of the night’s bombings, we had also              the wall. His throat closes up and he can eat
planned to visit families living near a bombed             only yogurt. He does not sleep. This began 10
base at Deir el-Balah, located before the turn-            years ago. The problems occur intermittently
off for Kissufim. We headed towards the three              and the brothers agree that they increase when
houses closest to the bombed site and were                 he is faced with difficulties as he is now, given
welcomed by the family living there. The father,           the events.
mother and children are there. Not many chil-              The young man was seriously mistreated
dren are going to school this morning as                   during the Intifada, when he
no one got much sleep the night before. After              was 22. He was arrested and
a few moments, the other family members                    beaten by the IDF. His pro-
arrived.                                                   blems apparently began follo-           The child couldn’t
A 9 year-old boy spent the night in a state of             wing this abuse.
acute stress. The family spent two full hours in           The description suggests
                                                                                                       sleep with his
the garden for protection in case of renewed               PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress                  brothers. He
firing on the base. The boy could not calm                 Disorder) with psychotic fea-             stayed with his
down. His mother says he wouldn’t leave her                tures. The brothers cannot               parents, praying
for a second and went to the bathroom cons-                recall similar episodes before
tantly. He couldn’t sleep in his room with his             his arrest. He is the third of
                                                                                                  for daybreak. Only
brothers and stayed with his parents, praying              four brothers and receives tre-          then did he calm
for daybreak. Only then did he begin to calm               mendous support from them.                      down.
down. He was here during our visit and said he             He was treated in Jordan and
felt better. He thinks things will be all right now.       another Gulf country where
This is the first time that anything has hap-              he had wanted to study. He
pened in this seaside district. There have been            has been seen everywhere possible, including
no clashes here since the current events began             the Gaza psychiatric hospital and the Gaza
and there were no serious situations even                  Community Mental Health Program (GCMHP)
during the first Intifada.                                 where he saw a physician. The prescribed treat-
We are asked our advice about two members of               ment was helpful but the results did not last.
the family for problems unrelated to the night’s           Apparently, this man has not been able to
events. Both are present: a 7 year-old boy,                undertake psychotherapy. If there is still time, it
the youngest son of the man of the house,                  could be useful to suggest. We must still
and a 32 year-old man, married and a father.               confirm that there are no underlying psychotic
He is one of the four brothers living here.                problems.

                                                                                                                        25
                                         P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                                                                                     life he must take on new responsibilities vis à vis
 NETZARIM                                                                            his young wife. His current stress could compro-
                                                                                     mise his ability to meet those responsibilities. He
 Sore throat                                                                         can’t answer her questions. She is aware that he
                                                                                     is not well but he does not tell her what is wrong.


I
    n the Al Muragah district, a young man of 27
    invited us to his home. His mother was pre-
    sent during the interview. He explained what                                     W E D N E S D AY, N O V E M B E R 2 2
 had happened to him two weeks ago as he was
 returning from his daily job at a restaurant in                                     NETZARIM
 Gaza. (He comes home late at night.) At the
 crossing in front of the IDF Jeep, he was arrested
 and roughed up by the milita-
                                                                                     “What about the
 ry. They struck him in the side
 with their rifle butts, took his
                                                                                     children if I die?”
                                                 The man is a
                                                                                    I
 documents, told him to wait                                                            t is still impossible to visit Rafah or Khan
 and then left. He was very                        newlywed,                            Yunis. Since the last attacks in the Rafah
 frightened because of the wait                                                         region the Israeli Army has, in effect, divid-
 and also because he had been
                                              married just two                       ed the Gaza Strip in two and imposed strict
 detained previously (for 6                  months ago. The                         controls on travel between north and south.
 months in 1991 after partici-                  stress he faces                      It is currently impossible for us to reach the
 pating in a demonstration in                 makes it difficult                     southern region.
 Gaza). He feared the soldiers                                                       We returned to Al Muragah and met
 were checking his identity by
                                            for him to take on                       a woman in her forties who was visibly
 computer and that he was in                       these new                         exhausted and troubled by persistent anxiety
 danger. The wait lasted two                   responsibilities,                     since the first day of the events. The family’s
 hours, during which time he                  which increases                        house, riddled in places by bullet holes, is on
 spoke with other youths near-                                                       the road leading to the Netzarim settlement
 by. When the Jeep came back,                    his suffering.                      in the 70-meter strip where buildings taller
 he retrieved his documents                                                          than one story are prohibited. Their houses is
 and was told – firmly but                                                           of light but durable construction, with seve-
 without physical violence – to return home.                                         ral rooms. Our patient is in a state of extreme
 Ever since, he has been unable to return to work,                                   asthenia and stress. She no longer sleeps and
 feels extremely fatigued, asthenic, anxious and ill                                 eats very little. Her expression is sorrowful
 (a sore throat). He is in a state of persistent anxie-                              and her exhaustion shows. She only sleeps
 ty, cannot think, speaks little and is unable to                                    when the family visits relatives but despite
 relax. He must go back to work because he is the                                    frequent pleas from one of her daughters,
 only one of the brothers working right now. (The                                    10, they go only rarely because they fear the
 others are unemployed because they work in                                          house will be destroyed if they leave.
 Israel.) Their father was killed in an accident in                                  “What will happen to the children if I die?”
 1998. He is also very worried because with his                                      We listen to the woman, spend a long time
 mother’s help, it took him four years to recover                                    comforting her, and plan to visit again.
 after his release from prison. He recent experien-                                  We visit a neighboring home. The young
 ce has triggered a revival of his earlier fragile state                             mother came looking for us at the previous
 and he is afraid that he will relapse. He is a newly-                               family’s home. We find her alone with three
 wed, married just two months ago. We sense this                                     young children in a sheet metal hut. She says
 is contributing to his anxiety as at this point in his                              her husband has been gone since the first
                                                                                     days of the confrontation. He had said that
                                                                                     he couldn’t stay any longer, that it was too
                                                                                     dangerous and that he was afraid. He has not
                                                                                     returned since.
                                                                                     The 18 month-old boy has a huge burn on
                                                                                     his buttocks. Two days ago, he fell into the
                                                                                     fire when teargas bombs were fired into the
                                                                                     house and everyone was blinded. The
                                                                                     mother took him to the health clinic for treat-
                                                                                     ment and is supposed to return daily to have
                                                                                     the bandage changed. The fee is two Israeli
                                                                                     shekels but she has no more money. This is

26
                                        P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
At the Kalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and East Jerusalem, only people with Jerusalem residence permits may pass.

both a social service and family matter. What             A father asks us to see his 9 year-old son who,        December 28
can be done?                                              two days later, has not recovered from the inci-       Two Israeli
In speaking with the neighbors present, one               dent. We speak with the child on the patio of the
                                                                                                                 soldiers are
thinks the husband left and abandoned his fami-           neighboring house. He talks about his fear and
ly because he was traumatized. As he has been             his feelings. He’s feeling a bit better than yester-   killed during a
seen in the neighborhood, we suggest sending              day but still can’t think of anything else. He’s a     bomb attack
him a message that we will return here on                 somewhat shy and reserved. His father comforts         carried out
Sunday. We should try to speak with him.                  him as best he can, although he is worried about
                                                                                                                 against army
Another mother asks us to help her 9 year-old             where he will find the money to repair his house.
son who has become enuretic since the events.             The Palestinian police arrived just after the bom-     patrols in the
We offer to see him on our next visit.                    bing to reassure the people.                           southern Gaza
                                                                                                                 Strip. That day,

GAZA CITY                                                 T H U R S D AY, N O V E M B E R 2 3                    the Sharm al-
                                                                                                                 Sheikh peace

Collateral                                                N U S E I R AT                                         summit is

damage                                                    A drawing to                                           canceled.


                                                          show the whole
V
       isit to the district where the bomb fell “by
       mistake.” It is in the Beach Camp, not far
       from us. People were watching the roc-             world
kets launched from the sea fly overhead when


                                                          V
suddenly one fell in the middle of a group of                    isit to the women’s center. There are no
houses in a small alley. One house was badly                     clashes in the Nuseirat camp. Instead,
damaged. Several others had part of their metal                  the youth go to Netzarim and Kfar
roofs blown off and a young girl received frag-           Darom to participate in the confrontations
ment wounds in the abdomen.                               there. We met some of them as they were dra-

                                                                                                                                    27
                                        P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
 wing and setting up a puppet show. Very                                        The father of the family in the house across the
 interesting discussion in which these fifteen                                  street is equally distraught. His face is drawn, he
 year-olds – who look younger – shared their                                    speaks angrily and as he expressed his exhaus-
 determination to “defend their people,” in                                     tion, we sensed that he might burst into tears
 spite of everything. They hide their activities                                at the end of every sentence. He has moved his
 from their parents and scorn the coordinator’s                                                     family into a garage on the
 advice not to go. (He is a young man of 22                                                         ground floor of the house. We
 who was hit twice in the leg during the                                                            have a conversation with his
 confrontations.) They aren’t afraid because                                                        wife, who is holding up but is
 they can “hear the bullets coming and dodge                       Unlike during our                very worried about the child-
 them.” They carry the wounded and don’t                           prior visits, there              ren. We are in the house when
 think of the danger. The speakers leave no                                                         violent gunfire breaks out.
 doubt as to their determination. They are                          is no more good                 (The photographers have just
 proud of what they do. They are sweet,                              humor in their                 arrived and the youth want to
 endearing kids. One has gathered all the ele-                     words, only anger                show what they’re capable of!)
 ments of the situation in a single drawing:                                                        The IDF responds immediate-
 trees uprooted, bombings, a martyr, tanks,
                                                                        and fear.                   ly, with resounding gunfire.
 settlements, houses destroyed, people fleeing.                                                     This is intended to sound like
 He wishes the whole world could see it.                                                            the real thing and to frighten
                                                                                                    and warn people before the
                                                                                real shooting begins. We’re not used to it and
 S AT U R D AY, N O V E M B E R 2 5                                             it’s quite upsetting.
                                                                                Next we visit the little boy again. Paradoxically,
 RAFAH                                                                          he seems better. We meet with him in the MSF
                                                                                car so we can have a quiet place to talk. Besides,
 For the                                                                        teargas has just been fired and his house is filled
                                                                                with fumes. No one can breathe there. He’s
 photographers                                                                  happy with this arrangement and the other kids
                                                                                are jealous. He feels safe now because he and his


 W
            e can finally head out for Rafah. We                                family will sleep somewhere else.
            hoped this Shabbat Saturday would                                   In this district there are around 25 families at risk
            make it easier to get through at the                                and another eight at very great risk.
 Kissufim check-point (no settler traffic today) and                            We return to Rafah and find a place to see our
 we planned for every contingency: a white car,                                 patients in the calm and shelter of the MSF bus.
 driven by an expatriate, with MSF identification                               We can’t provide treatment or support in houses
 and flag and a second car, yellow, with a                                      where there’s a risk of being attacked and where
 Palestinian driver.                                                            we, too, become stressed.
 The checkpoint finally opens at 10 a.m. Things
 move slowly because the passage is narrow and
 crowded with pedestrians, cars and trucks.                                              S U N D AY, N O V E M B E R 2 6
 After a week of intensified confrontations, visit-
 ing Rafah was a priority but we had been una-                                           NETZARIM
 ble to go because of strict travel restrictions.
 In the Salah’Edine district, we find people
 exhaust-ed, intimidated and demoralized by the
                                                                                         Massage with oil
 worsen-ing situation. Incessant gunfire plagues
 the area.
                                                                                         and relaxation
 The English teacher we met does not hold back                                           techniques
 himself as he expresses his anger and despair. He


                                                                                         W
 is extremely upset. His wife is not as agitated and                                                e have an appointment with a patient
 describes his exhaustion during a long interview                                                   in Al Muragah. He is waiting for us
 I have with her. The conversation calms and reas-                                                  because he’s been told that we will
 sures her. She insists that our visits are necessary                                    visit. We find a worried man who has difficulty
 and comforting. A cousin of her husband’s,                                              explaining his situation. He’s the one who aban-
 a man in his fifties, was killed three days ago                                         doned his home out of fear. He shows us two
 returning from prayer. He was shot in the head                                          gunshot holes in the fence around his house. He
 around 300 meters from the scene of the                                                 hid to protect himself and then, panicked, fled
 clashes. No more good humor in their words,                                             to his parents’ home 1.5 km away. He had
 only anger and fear.                                                                    decid-ed not to spend a minute longer in that

28
                                            P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
hell. His wife and children were not in the house                                 shows evidence of repeated gunfire (many visi-
that day so he left without them. Ever since, his                                 ble large bullet holes). The children are at school.
wife has been alone there with the children. He                                   We will come back after 1:30 p.m. and see them
has been living next door to his brother’s house.                                 on another day.
The situation has become unbearable for him                                       I realize that I haven’t written down the senten-
since the incident. To make matters worse, he                                     ce that people, especially the elderly, repeat
lost his job and has no more money. Our visit                                     often: “They are going to kill us, we are all going
comforts him. He wants our help, feels guilty                                     to die.”
and needs support. This morning his wife left                                     Our patients also voice the hope that we will
with the children for the funeral of her father, an                               bear witness to what we see and hear. Clearly,
elderly man who died yesterday of old age. This                                   the Palestinians feel abandoned and forgotten.
could be a chance for her to rest as she had told                                 “Do people where you live really know what
us that her parents live near Karni in a quiet                                    we’re going through?”
area.
We will return to see him when his wife comes
back to try to help them find a solution accep-                                   T H U R S D AY, N O V E M B E R 3 0
table to all. He says he has nightmares and
can’t sleep anymore. He seems quite dis-                                          FORTRESS
traught.
Next we visit a patient we’ve been caring for to                                  TOWNS
tell her that we will return with the doctor the
day after tomorrow. She is weak enough that it
is cause for concern. She says she can no longer
                                                                                  Near the
take care of her children and seems to have no
more strength. In spite of the situation, she says
                                                                                  settlements

                                                                                 E
she can only rest at her own home. At her sis-                                          very day we see the situation in the districts
ter’s house, 2 km away, where she goes occa-                                            near the settlements deteriorate. Increasing
sionally, the children fight (there are many of                                         numbers of families are affected; houses are
them) because they are over-excited. The space                                    destroyed, occupied and riddled with gunfire.
is small and it’s almost worse than being at                                      Families are living in tents or with relatives
home. I suggested that we also see her hus-                                       without any hope of reclaiming their requisi-
band (he comes home from work at 3 p.m.)                                          tioned property; farm animals are butchered
who, she says, is “even more                                                      savagely. Fear has become part of daily life in
frightened at night than I am.”                                                   these isolated districts and villages. Some remain
During the conversation, we                                                       out of reach of any humanitarian aid because no
get news about the families                                                       one can guarantee acceptable levels of security
living in the houses near the            Patients hope that                       (Mawassi, Swidi).
mosque. We meet with several                 we talk about                        Our regular visits with these families allow us to
people; in particular, a group               them: “Do the                        observe how the conflict has escalated. The
of women who have come                                                            Palestinians live in fear of Israeli Army reprisals.
together to support each                  people where you                        Israeli restrictions hamper freedom of move-
other. The conversation is ani-             live really know                      ment within the Gaza Strip. The only autho-
mated and wide-ranging.                   what we’re going                        rized crossing point between north and south
Each woman shares her feel-                                                       is the country road which passes by the
ings and her personal recipe
                                                through?”                         Kissufim junction. The regular four-lane road,
for fighting off fear (including                                                  linking the southern and northern towns, has
massages with oil to ease pain-                                                   been cut off above Deir el-Balah because it
ful joints and relaxation tech-                                                   runs for some distance alongside the Kfar
niques). One of them laughs. She finds this                                       Darom settlement.
treatment approach a bit out-dated!                                               The settlements have become fortified towns
An IDF tank is parked along the road. From                                        where the Israeli Army sanctions every man’s
time to time we hear gunfire in the distance,                                     right to carry a weapon. The IDF soldiers pro-
but this is relatively calm and peaceful, com-                                    tecting the settlements can take advantage of
pared to what happens every afternoon from                                        the settlers’ logistical and moral support.
3 or 4 p.m. and during the night. Is this                                         There is no possible comparison with the
harassment, “psychological warfare”? Yes, no                                      Palestinian civilian population, which for the
question about it.                                                                most part avoids having anything to do
On our last visit of the day, we stop at another                                  with Palestinian military operations for fear of
family’s home. This is the tallest house and                                      reprisals.

                                                                                                                                     29
                                   P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                       DECEMBER 4                                                      W E D N E S D AY, D E C E M B E R 6

                       KHAN YUNIS                                                      RAFAH
                       I thought my     Fear in the
                       heart would stop family

                       T                                                               T
                              he bulldozers have continued their work at                       he street is reminiscent of Beirut or Kabul.
                              the Kissufim junction, destroying whatever                       Families cling to the ruins, living in terror.
                              vegetation remains. Two tanks block the                          Where are they to go? So they stay. With
                       road, stopping traffic. Warning shots convinced                 fear in the pit of their stomachs. Praying that a
                       those trying to move forward to turn back.                      bulldozer won’t come to tear down their house.
                       At Khan Yunis, the situation seems to be stabi-                 We cross into the Israeli-controlled zone to visit a
                       lized. Despite the lull, residents are still very               shantytown of Bedouin refugees who haven’t
                       much in a state of shock. After fasting is over and             seen a doctor for months. We are still in Palestine

 2001                  they have eaten (at home so as not to be an
                       extra burden on their host family), everyone lea-
                                                                                       Autonomous Territory, but given the camp’s pro-
                                                                                       ximity to Israeli settlements, it is cut off from the
 January 4             ves to take refuge in the center of town. Bullet                rest of the world. The settlements resemble
 Negotiations          marks and holes scar the houses. Parents descri-                islands of prosperity, entrenched behind electric
                       be disturbing scenes of panic. When the firing                  gates or huge concrete walls, with observation
 resume in
                       begins, they must flee their houses. The children               towers and surveillance cameras. They are pro-
 Washington.           cry and scream. Everyone rushes into the small                  tected by tanks and fixed airships providing
 Clinton, soon to      alleyways to find shelter elsewhere. Some                       ground surveillance and, at sea, by military
 leave office, fails   parents appear very demoralized and resigned.                   patrol boats. The concrete walls are made of
                       They no longer have hope. Others announce                       movable blocks.
 in his efforts.
                       they cannot fight because of the children. All suf-             In the Gaza Strip, some 5,000 Israeli settlers,
 January 8             fer from feelings of insecurity.                                protected by thousands of soldiers, control 40
 More than             We understand that the Israeli army apparently                  percent of a territory with a total population of
                       wants to move some these of families out of their               one million. We are shown the Ofariom settle-
 100,000 Israelis
                       homes so that the army can occupy their houses.                 ment, home to a couple with two children,
 demonstrate           A woman followed by her children called out to                  around twenty soldiers and some dogs.
 against the           me. She showed us one of the children, saying                   Occasionally the dogs get out and bite
 division of           he had problems and needed help. I went with                    Palestinian children. A population living in ter-
                       her and spoke with the child. He is 10 years old                ror and misery surrounds this armed camp. The
 Jerusalem.
                       and explained that after being at home when his                 Palestinians serve as cheap manual labor on
 January 21-27         house was bombed and shot, he has had panic                     Israeli farms. They are prohibited from traveling
 The Taba peace        attacks every day at the same time, re-experienc-               on the roads used by the Israelis. The zone’s
 talks in Egypt        ing the terror he’d felt at that moment. He cries,              main roadway is made up of two parallel roads,
                       trembles and screams to be taken to his grand-                  so each community has its own buses, taxis and
 end without an
                       father’s house.                                                 schools. The two communities are totally sepa-
 accord.               His father, who joins us later, confirms that his               rated.
 February 6            son is unable to get over this fear. Not knowing                We went into the Rafah district called al-Brasil.
 Likud wins 62.5
                       what to do, he gives the boy tranquilizers, keeps               There we observed that two Palestinian families
                       him at home and forces him to eat. I advise him                 were at risk of being fired on by the IDF. Situated
 percent of the
                       to be patient and to respect his son’s fear. The                next to the border, this district is caught in the
 votes and Ariel       boy must decide for himself if he wants to stay in              crossfire between two positions: one, along the
 Sharon becomes        the house. I promised the child that I would                    border with tank support; the other, level with
                       come back to see him.                                           Salah’Edine, where an Israeli army watchtower is
 prime minister.
                       We also met the director and teachers from the                  located. The apartment of the family we visited
                       Netzarim elementary school. They need                           has been pierced through with gunfire coming
                       someone to listen to and advise them. While                     from both directions simultaneously. Only the
                       we were talking, a burst of gunfire broke out. I                kitchen is unscathed.
                       thought my heart would stop on the spot. The                    When I meet this family, none of them is able to
                       children, as well as the school personnel, live                 admit feeling fear. They introduce the youngest
                       with this every day. I don’t know how they                      child, explaining that he has become fearful
                       manage. But judging from the teachers’ reac-                    and that no one understands him any longer.
                       tions, I don’t believe they have gotten used to                 Only after we talk further does each person ack-
                       it!                                                             nowledge fear, even the older brother who says

30
                                          P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
that he no longer had feeling in his legs during                                        arrived in January, I have seen him on a regular
the shooting. The little one narrowly escaped                                           basis for post-traumatic stress problems. They
death when a bullet passed between him and his                                          triggered a trauma that occurred a year ago
brother. Ever since, he has been unable to tole-                                        when he had a serious fall from a balcony at the
rate the noise of tanks and wants to take shelter                                       time his brother was born. Last week I waited to
at his uncle’s to sleep. He says he doesn’t feel safe                                   meet him but he never came. When I arrive this
there either but at least he can sleep. Three of                                        time, I find his mother lying down. Her arm is in
the four brothers speak of their fear. The fourth                                       a cast, she has a wound on her leg and she is
claims not to be afraid. I explain to the family                                        clearly very shaken. She explained that she had
that everyone has his own threshold of resistan-                                        gone to the roof to check the water supplies.
ce and each person’s fear must be respected. I                                          Frightened by the shooting, she fell two stories
believe that for the first time, the members of                                         into the interior courtyard. A tree branch broke
this family have been able to articulate, in front                                      her fall and saved her life.
of others, feelings that until now they could not                                       Four months pregnant, she is especially frighte-
admit to having.                                                                        ned for the baby she’s carrying. She went to the
It seems to me that each member of them is                                              hospital and received an ultrasound and medical
trying to conquer his or her fear and fight the                                         treatment which reassured her, but she is still in
urge to flee, which would be seen as proof of                                           a state of shock. Her skin is yellow and her eyes
cowardice as the family’s duty is to protect the                                        have deep circles. She cries every night. She was
house. One suppresses all emotion, another                                              so frightened and the fall seemed so long. The
wants to become a soldier, a                                                            whole family talks about their fear. They believe
third wants to leave for the U.S.                                                       she was deliberately targeted because at the
All are obliged to remain in this                                                       moment she fell, everything was calm. No one
house, transferring their anxie-            Each member of                              thought there was any risk. The mother-in-law
ty, in a way, to the youngest,                                                          takes me to the roof to show me the bullet
whose own fear – which none
                                               the family is                            marks. She, too, is very upset. Two years ago, she
of the others can admit to –              trying to conquer                             was shot in the leg. The scar continues to give
then becomes incomprehensi-               his or her fear and                           her pain.
ble. This is the first time that I         fight the urge to                            When we return to the mother’s bedside, her hus-
have observed this family phe-                                                          band speaks to us sadly of his condition. He has
nomenon so clearly.
                                           flee. Their duty is                          been in the room all along but remained silent
Another phenomenon seems                      to protect the                            and withdrawn. He spent five years in prison and
to be present here. Despite the                     house.                              has never recovered. Solitary confinement was the
lull, it appears that many peo-                                                         worst. He is overcome for a moment as he recalls
ple find it difficult to relax and                                                      this memory. The youngest child wakes up and
resume a normal life. Perhaps                                                           joins his brother on a rocking horse. Both smile for
this is the precursor to full-fledged trauma. If that                                   the picture they insist we take. The father smiles,
is the case, we can expect to observe the symp-                                         too, and says he would like to talk about this past
toms soon. I will wait to gather more data on this                                      “that destroyed me.”
subject before venturing an opinion. But for                                            A few houses away, I meet Leila, a 14 year-old
now, we can say that in spite of the rapidly-                                           girl, at her grandmother’s house. I have been fol-
changing situation, the mood here remains                                               lowing the older woman to support her through
gloomy. Fear remains uppermost in people’s                                              the mourning for her husband, who died six
minds and still affects their physical state.                                           months ago. During my last visit, only after the
                                                                                        woman described her sorrow and loneliness and
                                                                                        spoke of the couple’s last wonderful moments
             MSF psycho-medical                                                         together did she show me the recent bullet holes
             team in Hebron                                                             in a room facing a building where settlers live, as
                                                                                        well as in the doorframe of the bedroom, the
                                                                                        door through which she was walking at that
T H U R S D AY, F E B R U A RY 1 5 , 2 0 0 1                                            moment. She had been two inches from death,
                                                                                        but she would have passed over the experience
Two inches from                                                                         if I hadn’t been there to focus the conversation
                                                                                        on it for a moment. She says she feels better
death                                                                                   today.
                                                                                        She’d like me to talk with her granddaughter,


I
    n the district between Haret Al-Sheikh, home                                        who was wounded on December 31. Leila
    to Palestinians, and Daboïa, home to settlers,                                      explains that there were many clashes that day.
    we visited a little boy who’s almost 3. Since I                                     Her brothers had told her to go to her grand-

                                                                                                                                           31
                                         P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
 In a valley near Hebron, this house, which Elias built in anticipation of his marriage, was bombed during the night.


                   mother’s for safety. When things calmed down                         S U N D AY, F E B R U A RY 2 5
                   in the district, she wanted to get her chickens
                   from the roof because she was afraid they would
                                     be killed. As she came downs-
                                                                                        When a martyr
                                     tairs, carrying the chickens in a                  dies, I cry
                                     cardboard box, a bullet struck
     The grandmother
                                                                                       O
                                     her in the abdomen. She can                                  n this home visit in the Jabel Jawhar
     had a close brush               still hear the sound. “I didn’t                              district, near the Kiryat Arba settle-
                                     lose consciousness,” she says. “I                            ment, we meet a 10 year-old child
      with death, but                came downstairs quickly, screa-                    who complains that she can’t breath and has
      she would have                 ming.”                                             chest pains. The mother quickly tells us of the
      passed over the                Today the event is engraved in                     preceding days’ problems. There has been a
                                     her memory. “Now, before I go                      lot of gunfire close by and children have been
        experience if I              to sleep I remember everything                     throwing stones. Her daughter was unable to
     hadn’t been there               that happened that day. My                         get home from school and had to take shelter
         to focus the                brother’s friend, Gassan, died.                    with her cousins at a neighbor’s house. The
     conversation on it              He was 12. He was hit when                         little sister, 6, who was playing a game of
                                     missiles exploded as he was                        building houses in the courtyard, inhaled
       for a moment.                 coming home from prayer. At                        teargas when a bomb fell close by. She tried to
                                     night, I cry for him and I always                  get back to the house but fainted and fell. The
                                     think, ‘What if I were dead?’                      10 year-old girl made a drawing showing a
                   What frightens me is that a piece of the bullet                      house, a “martyr” prone on the threshold, the
                   is still in my stomach. They can’t get it out.                       barrel of a gun pointed at his chest and a sol-
                   What if I can’t have children?” She would’ve                         dier holding the weapon in his outstretched
                   been pleased to be a “martyr,” but perhaps                           arm. “When a martyr dies, I cry and my chest
                   she’ll manage to become a doctor. Her tea-                           hurts.” The mother listens to her daughter and
                   chers are helping her to catch up with her stu-                      then tells us about her cousin’s death a few
                   dies.                                                                weeks ago.

32
                                           P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
T H U R S D AY, M A R C H 1                                 mess behind, they urinate in front of our win-
                                                            dows; some are more disgusting than others and
Demanding,                                                  even expose themselves in front of our daughter,
                                                            harassing and upsetting her.”
aggressive,                                                 Her son, who was living there with his wife,
violent                                                     chose to leave because the wife couldn’t take it
                                                            any longer. She no longer goes out. The son was


A
        t our doctor’s request, I make my first visit       once locked out for four hours because the sol-
        to a 15 year-old boy. In May 2000, he had           diers had bolted the door. Her
        been shot twice while climbing up to the            husband, now retired, does all
roof to see what was happening that day. A stri-            the shopping even during cur-
ke was underway and there had been some kind                few. The woman describes her           The mother can’t
of activity a few streets away. He was climbing             fatigue,     headaches      and        take the presence
the ladder and was shot in the arm. He didn’t               exhaustion. Why not leave?                soldiers on the
feel the injury and as he continued climbing, was           That would mean losing the
shot in the stomach. Severely wounded, he                   house and besides, where
                                                                                                     roof any longer.
spent six months in the hospital close to death.            would they go? Her relatives            “They leave their
Having received considerable attention and sup-             no longer come to visit. The          filth and urinate in
port early on from his family, journalists and local        soldiers keep watch on all visi-            front of the
organizations, he now finds himself alone and               tors.
facing major physical disabilities which seriously          Only her neighbor dares to
                                                                                                        windows.”
limit his daily life. (He suffered kidney, stomach          visit occasionally. She has
and intestinal injuries.) People describe him as            come today and tells us that
demanding, aggressive and violent. His mother               her water tanks and solar panels have been bro-
and brothers no longer recognize the boy, who               ken several times. At the beginning, she fixed
was calm and gentle before the accident. They               them but why bother? It just keeps happening.
find it difficult to cope with him and don’t                Hopeless and demoralized, she says, “It was
understand his psychological distress even                  never like this before, even during the other
though they had given him so much support. He               Intifada. They fire heavily now, whenever they
says he feels nothing – just like when he was hit           want, just like that, to play games, for nothing.
first in the arm – and that his family mistreats            We don’t know what’s going to happen.” And of
him, especially his older brother who, when he              course her complaints go unanswered.
was first hospitalized, had spent every day and
night at his bedside.
The same day, I make another first visit, this one          M O N D AY, M A R C H 1 2
to the home of a 9 year-old child who is unable
to sleep, cries out for his mother at night and has
become agitated. His mother doesn’t know how
                                                            “I want to leave
to calm him. She welcomes us with a thin smile              everything,
on her drawn, sad face. She immediately descri-
bes the nightmare she has been living for the last
                                                            school, Hebron”
                                                           I
five months. Her house is occupied and Israeli                  had a hard time finding this family, which had
soldiers are stationed on her roof. When we                     left the house where they used to live near the
arrived, we noticed weapons standing between                    checkpoint next to the Abraham mosque.
sandbags.                                                   Their son’s severe stress reaction after experien-
When there is shooting, everything shakes and               cing shooting convinced them to move.
lizards scurry along the walls. The roof is consi-          I came to see him today and met the whole fami-
dered a military zone and access is prohibited.             ly. They had had to huddle in a corner to protect
The family is only permitted to go there every 10           themselves. The last time, this child remained
days to perform essential tasks. Two shifts of sol-         fixed at the same spot, “all yellow, and he trem-
diers take turns day and night, coming and                  bled, trembled, he couldn’t stop.” He hasn’t
going by the only door to the house. When it                wanted to go out since then. His older brother,
rains, the soldiers set up in the hallway and the           16, has quit school. “It’s pointless to go when we
inhabitants must leave their bedroom doors                  miss so many days.” He prefers to help his father
open at night.                                              and works as a mechanic. The older daughter
“In the beginning, we were terrorized and we                arrives home from school. This is her first day
couldn’t sleep,” the mother says. “Then we                  back after 10 days under curfew. She immedia-
arranged things so that one of us stayed awake              tely tells her mother that she arrived at school
while the others slept. The soldiers leave their            late because of a half-hour delay at the check-

                                                                                                                         33
                                          P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                                                                                      soldiers who shoot. She fell when she was run-
                                                                                      ning to take shelter in a neighbor’s house. She
                                                                                      was so frightened she couldn’t manage to reach
                                                                                      the house. She was with a little friend, her neigh-
                                                                                      bor.
                                                                                      She is most frightened of being shot, stoned,
                                                                                      being ill, dying. Luckily, she can go into any of
                                                                                      the neighbors’ houses. She has difficulty sleep-
                                                                                      ing, fears getting up at night to go to the
                                                                                      bathroom and is afraid on the road on the way
                                                                                      to school. “But I like going to school,” she says.
                                                                                      She made some drawings at school. Her mother
                      point. Yes, she’s stopped most of the time, often               wrote a play about the Intifada that the children
                      by different soldiers. They want to see what she’s              performed but she can’t show me anything
                      carrying and they drag things out. They’re often                today because the school is closed and soldiers
                      insulting and crude. She doesn’t want to do her                 have occupied it. She drew a house being hit by
 February 14          schoolwork anymore. She had wanted to beco-                     rockets, a “martyr” and the soldier who has just
 Eight Israelis are   me a doctor but she’s discouraged now. “I just                  killed him holding a gun, a dove and a sun that
 killed by a          want to leave everything – school, Hebron …”.                   weeps. In Arabic, she writes that Palestine has
                      She feels oppressed and her hair is falling out.                lost its rights for all eternity.
 Palestinian who
                      The youngest boy has not recovered from the
 drives his bus       shock he experienced when seven of his friends
 into a group of      were burned by a sound bomb, launched by sol-                   W E D N E S D AY, M A R C H 2 1
                      diers into the schoolyard. He hardly talks about
 civilians and
 soldiers near Tel
                      it, his eyes distant, staring off towards the
                      Abousnina hill. Through the window of the new
                                                                                      Attacked by the
 Aviv.                house, he saw the bombs falling there, red traces               settlers
 Israel imposes a     in the night sky, as if he were watching a televi-


                                                                                      T
                      sion screen.                                                           his is my first visit following the request of
 total blockade
                                                                                             a father who called out to me in the street
 of the                                                                                      to come see his children. I discover a little
 territories.         T U E S D AY, M A R C H 1 3                                     family in great distress; fragile and on the verge
 March 4                                                                              of collapse. The mother has just recovered
 A suicide bomb       A dove and a sun                                                from giving birth a month ago. I can sense the
                                                                                      father’s acute tension. He shows me the shat-
 attack kills four    that weeps                                                      tered glass in the front door, the kitchen window
 and wounds 45                                                                        that he’s just sealed up, the solar panels he’s


                      A
 in Netanya, a                mother has come for a consultation with                 already repaired and the low wall he’s rebuilt
                              her 9 year-old daughter. They are from                  several times.
 beach resort
                              Jabal Jawhar, a more distant district where             Every week over the last few months this house,
 frequented by        I visited the family at home several times. The                 located along the route that takes the settlers
 Jewish tourists.     mother is out of breath, moves heavily and has                  from their district (Daboïa, just across the way) to
 March 11
                      difficulty breathing. In the taxi, she suddenly                 synagogue, has been the object of stone-throw-
                      smelled teargas but the driver told her nothing                 ing attacks. Only the son remains in the family
 Ramallah is          was wrong. A few weeks ago, a teargas bomb                      home. His parents, as well as most of the neigh-
 completely           fell in her courtyard. She rushed to find her                   bors, preferred to leave. Only one neighbor is still
 sealed off.          children, who are sent home from school when                    here; an elderly woman, tired but still firm. She’s
                      there are clashes. But she fainted and fell, had to             lived there all her life. The father wasn’t ready to
 March 13
                      be hospitalized and remained in intensive care                  leave the house where he was born either, but he
 Israeli bulldozers   for four hours. Her current fragile state has trig-             has stomach problems, can’t sleep and is extre-
 destroy houses       gered long-ago traumas, including the death of                  mely tired and overwhelmed. He shows us the
 near Hebron.         a baby eight years ago – for which her in-laws                  legal complaint he’s filed but the procedures take
                      blamed her – and her father’s death, when she                   a long time and he can’t spend his days there.
                      was 6. Her mother was accused and then impri-                   He manages to work a bit in his shoe store and
                      soned.                                                          leaves now to return there. After he’s gone, his
                      Meanwhile, the child is drawing and describing                  wife explains that the children are always afraid.
                      her fear when she saw her mother faint. She                     They don’t dare go outside anymore. She can’t
                      thought the woman was dead. She is afraid of                    play with them on the patio, as her husband
                      teargas, too, of children who throw stones and                  recommends. She’s afraid to talk to him about it.

34
                                         P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                 The prisoners
        of the Al-Mawassi community
The 3,000 Palestinians living in this Gaza Strip enclave cannot travel
 freely. Israeli soldiers even prevent them from seeking medical care.



A
           l Mawassi, also        that people would have to      pherd bit him in the leg. The
           known as Gush          produce different identifica-  child’s family was in a rush to
           Katif, is a communi-   tion cards.                    leave Al Mawassi to get him
           ty in the southwes-    The same family told us of     to the hospital. The soldiers at
tern Gaza Strip. Surrounded       another incident that had      the roadblock would not let
by settlers,                                                                       them pass.
some 3,000 A little boy had been seriously injured when a The family
Palestinians settler’s German shepherd bit him in the leg.                         spent the
live on this                                                                       whole night
piece of annexed land, com-       taken place in the enclave     waiting, in vain, for the sol-
pletely under Israeli control.    several days ago. A little boy diers to show some flexibility.
They could benefit from social had been seriously injured        The little boy died the next
and health care services but      when a settler’s German she-   morning.
such programs are few, so
they have to leave the enclave
to travel to Palestinian-control-
led zones. To get out, they are
required to show pieces of
identification that are distribu-
ted–atrandom–by the Israeli
army. Few people have
the official documents that
allow them to move about.
The others are stopped at
roadblocks, sometimes for
days. Access to health care is
complicated if not impossible.
For example, a pregnant
woman who needed prenatal
care was unable to wait for
long periods at the check-
point and finally turned back.
The day we went to the
Mawassi roadblock, nearly 50
angry people had been wai-
ting for three days for permis-
sion to enter. Most had
shown their identification
cards to the soldiers, posted
some 200 meters (220 yards)
away, but had been ignored.
One family that we treated
told us that the soldiers had
announced, without warning,




                                                                                                    35
                             P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                      Like her, the children jump at the least noise.                 S AT U R D AY, M A R C H 2 4
                      Mostly she feels very alone. No one comes to the
                      house anymore. She has only her sisters for sup-
                      port but can communicate with them only by
                                                                                      A family with
                      telephone. How long can they go on like this?                   problems

                                                                                     G
                                                                                                assan, a 10 year-old boy, has come alone
                      T H U R S D AY, M A R C H 2 2                                             to find us in the street to ask us to “come
                                                                                                see his family, which has problems.”
                      Tar, tar, tar                                                   Their many problems are indeed evident as soon
                                                                                      as we enter. The older brother is disabled, the


                      W
                                  e conduct a visit in the Abu Sneina dis-            father is ill and the mother is depressed. She
                                  trict, located on a hillside facing the             wants her son to return to school so that he will
                                  Quariet Albar settlement, which was                 continue to learn but also to distance him from
                      rocked several days ago by violent bombing and                  the dangers on the street. But Gassan doesn’t
                      strafing. Bullets and missiles woke the family in               want to learn. “He’s afraid of the soldiers,” his
 March 17
                      the middle of the night, breaking windows, tea-                 older brothers say.
 For the first time   ring through walls, leaving holes in furniture and              A poor student from the time he started school,
 since 1967, three    in clothes in the closets. The mother described                 Gassan is proud to show us the large platter he
                      the horrible night during which they were all                   puts on his head, filled with sweets he sells after
 mortar shells are
                      pinned to the bedroom floor, terrorized and wai-                the muezzin’s first call. That’s how he earns
 fired from the       ting to die. A 12 year-old was wounded in the                   money to give to his mother. But he smokes “like
 Gaza Strip onto      head and lost a lot of blood. The child himself                 the big guys” and throws stones at soldiers’ cars.
 Israeli territory    removed the metal fragment from the wound.                      When he came for a consultation, Gassan spoke
                      They couldn’t call an ambulance. Crying, her                    only about his cousin who was arrested by sol-
 at the Nahal Oz
                      legs shaking, the mother had to give first aid.                 diers at the house. He was struck and wounded.
 kibbutz.             The other children sobbed next to her, the 2 and                Gassan saw the blood and describes the scene
 March 26             5 year-old clinging tightly to her. They’re both                several times. His cousin is now in a prison camp.
 Shalevet Pass,       here today. They’ve never drawn but respond to                  It’s true he’s afraid of the soldiers but he doesn’t
                      my offer when I give them crayons and show                      want to go back to school.
 the infant
                      them the house I’ve sketched on a piece of                      The same day, in the street, two little girls, 8 and
 daughter of an       paper. The 2 year-old girl fills in with heavy                  10, stop us. They go to school and want to tell
 Israeli settler      marks, saying over and over, “tar, tar, tar,” (the              us what is happening now: the school is closed,
                      sound of gunfire) and the little boy keeps colo-                soldiers have come, there’s teargas. We talk
 family, is killed
                      ring a red spot, while his mother talks about the               about school and what they will do when they
 by a Palestinian     wound that terrified them.                                      grow up. “I’ll be killed,” one of them says.
 sniper in Hebron.    The same day, we made our first visit to a family
 March 29             who learned of our work from a neighbor. The
                      mother is waiting for me with her 12 year-old                   W E D N E S D AY, M A R C H 2 8
 Clashes in Gaza
                      son. He doesn’t want to go to school anymore.
 kill two
 Palestinian
                      Wadia is very welcoming and explains that the
                      soldiers stop him constantly. He describes his
                                                                                      Sweeps

                                                                                      T
 teenagers.           upsetting experience. Three soldiers stopped                          he old town is inaccessible. We call the
                      him, took a pencil from his bag and pointing it at                    families most at risk to learn their news.
 March 30
                      his face, pretended they were going to put out                        Considerable distress. During the night,
 Six of the           his eye. He was very frightened and broke free.                 the settlers conducted “sweeps.” Shops and cars
 Palestinian          The soldiers called him back and ordered him to                 were burned and there was shooting, bullets and
 demonstrators
                      get his pencil. Ever since, he dreams that soldiers             rockets. The families stayed awake, frightened by
                      are following him and he can’t get away. His                    what might happen to them.
 commemorating        mother worries that he’s not the same anymore.
 “Palestine Land      He has become aggressive and disobedient. Until
 Day” are killed.     then everyone always said he was a pleasant, kind               T H U R S D AY, M A R C H 2 9
                      child. When he grows up he wants to be a war
                      pilot to fight the soldiers. His house, along with
                      several others, is located in an area of greenery
                                                                                      “God’s Wisdom”

                                                                                      T
                      with gardens and olive trees, surrounded by two                       his is our second home visit to two girls, 9
                      settlements, a military camp and Israeli police sta-                  and 14, as well as a youth of 18 who is
                      tion. The ruins of a leveled house mark the                           under psychiatric care. The younger of the
                      entrance to the area.                                           two children has large patches of alopecia on her

36
                                         P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
scalp and the older has recently become enure-                                           Day War). Seven family members disappeared
tic. The third has not yet agreed to meet us.                                            then. He doesn’t know whether they were killed
The adjoining building is occupied by settlers                                           or imprisoned. Since he was little, he’s unders-
and guarded by an impressive military                                                           tood that you’ve got to “watch out for
force. The apartment where we meet is                                                           the Jews. They talk peace but you can’t
entirely closed off. The soldiers have orde-                                                    trust them.” He is tense, and he hits and
red that all windows be blocked. Only                    The old city is                        argues with family members. Patience
one room gets daylight through grated                  inaccessible. We                         and religion are his only consolation. He
openings in the ceiling. The mother sum-                call the families                       would’ve liked to build airplanes but
marizes the situation in a single word, the                                                     works as an auto mechanic. He’s had lots
first she speaks: torture. They don’t dare
                                                       who are exposed                          of jobs. “If we had a Palestinian state, we
leave anymore, turn the pages of the                   to danger. There                         would do what you’re doing, helping
newspaper or even breathe for fear of cal-                  were fires,                         people,” he says. “When I was young, my
ling attention to their presence. Their only              shooting and                          father made me leave school to earn
escape is the television – when the elec-                                                       money for my brothers.”
tricity isn’t cut, which it often is.                    rockets during                         “Just like me,” says his son, Aïd, 11. Three
The daughters describe the recent bom-                 the night … The                          months ago the boy left school to sell
bing at school. They lay pinned to the                   next morning,                          snacks and earn a little money. A few days
floor for 1 hours, holding hands. They                                                          later, Aïd comes alone to meet us. He’s
thought the soldiers were going to inva-
                                                        we resume our                           very chatty and carries a lovely coffeepot.
de the school. They were afraid that they                   visits and                          He would like to go back to school. He
would never see their mother again and                   consultations.                         hopes that I will convince his father to let
were going to die. The older one tells us                                                       him return and has come to offer us cof-
of being harassed as she passes through                                                         fee. This was to be the source of his day’s
the Jewish neighborhood on her way to school                                             earnings but we are not even allowed to think of
(when not under curfew). She mentions the day                                            paying. This is a gift.
when a bag of sand “fell” from a rooftop as she
passed below and the soldier who told her, “Go
home or tomorrow you’ll be on the front page
of the newspaper” – meaning she would be
                                                                                                 MSF psycho-medical
killed. She talks about the settlers who throw sto-                                              team in Gaza
nes.
The little sister wants to study and stay at the top
of her class. She would like to become a doctor.                                         W E D N E S D AY, J A N U A RY 3
She’s thinking of leaving school because it’s hard
to do her work, “although it’s my duty to stay                                           DUGIT
and protect the school.” She reads us a poem
she wrote in which she asks why there are mar-
tyrs, why houses burn and why women cry over
                                                                                         Bulldozer,
wounded children. It ends with the words, “It is
written, it is God’s wisdom, but one day we will
                                                                                         donkey and
win.”                                                                                    potatoes
Same day in the old town. We have been


                                                                                         T
coming to see this family regularly since the end                                                oday we went to the northern Gaza Strip,
of January. Their problems are multiple: econo-                                                  near the Dugit settlement. Along the way,
mic, family and educational. The neighborhood                                                    we encountered a Palestinian military
is often the scene of gunfire. The wife describes                                        roadblock and were not allowed to pass because
the recent night of horror and terror. One of the                                        a man was killed yesterday. We left the car and
children began to scream when, out the win-                                              continued on foot. A road leads to a house, but
dow, he saw a friend’s house burn. Flames,                                               we hesitate about approaching it. It is about 20
smoke, screams. She wanted to leave the house                                            km from the fencing surrounding the settle-
to strangle and kill the settlers.                                                       ment. A small, reinforced outpost installed to
“It’s not fair. It’s because I hold back my anger                                        protect the Israeli buildings stands about 50
that I feel I’m suffocating.” She has no one to talk                                     meters away. The resident warns us that it is very
to, so she cries for comfort. The father arrives. He                                     dangerous to be there because the Israeli soldiers
wasn’t there when it happened, but he saw the                                            recognize everyone and quickly identify stran-
fire. He screamed; screamed out of fear, power-                                          gers. We set up outside, across from the station.
lessness and rage. Then he tells his own story. He                                       It’s close enough that we can hear the radios.
was a baby during the “first invasion” (the Six-                                         While we are talking, I see a Jeep go by. A soldier

                                                                                                                                           37
                                         P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
 Leila had the misfortune to live near the Netzarim settlement. Her house, along with those of her neighbors, was torn down.

 March 31              gets out and stares at us through binoculars. He                Next we meet a man and woman, each leading
 Some 100              watches for a good minute, then turns away,                     a donkey hitched to a wagon filled with crates of
                       obviously having concluded that we pose no                      potatoes. The woman has tears in her eyes.
 soldiers from
                       threat. The residents of the house know they are                Crying out, she tells us that everything is going
 Israeli army          not at risk as long as they don’t go near the sett-             to disappear. The Israelis have given them per-
 special units         lement or protest when the bulldozer tears up                   mission only to gather the vegetables lying on
 capture six
                       their land. Since a new fence was built, their                  the ground. At first, the man says nothing but
                       acreage has shrunk to almost nothing.                           then begins to explain that they received no war-
 Palestinian
                       They point to a spot where we can go to watch                   ning. Their wells and pumps have been des-
 militants during      the bulldozer at work. We can hear it moving                    troyed. His anger rises and gives way to despair
 the night, north      behind the trees. As we walk, we meet several                   and tears. He lashes the animal and walks on.
                       farmers, including one who, enraged, tells us                   We walk further on to the last house. The bull-
 of Ramallah.
                       they are tearing down his greenhouses. Everyone                 dozer is there, about 100 meters away. It is huge
 Five of them          knows they are going to lose years of work. We                  and armor-plated. It moves forward and back,
 belong to Yasser      continue walking and meet a woman who says                      uprooting trees in its path. It sees us, stops for a
 Arafat’s              the bulldozer is just passing by her house. Her                 few moments and then resumes its ruinous
                       father is in the hospital and she is trying to keep
 personal
                       him from learning what is happening. She holds
 bodyguards.           a baby in her arms and her tears fall on him. She
                       grew up here, worked this land and knows every
                       one of the trees that she “nursed like a baby.”
                       We continue to walk along the tree-lined road.
                       We meet a group of farmers waiting for the bull-
                       dozers to finish their job. They usually work here
                       but have been chased away. They explain that
                       they were threatened and had to abandon their
                       greenhouses. As they watch the bulldozer in the
                       distance, the machine goes back and forth, back
                       and forth.

38
                                          P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
work. There are no soldiers around so I take a                                            of Valium and to stay with his father. He is very
picture, but I’m frightened. Everyone is frigh-                                           worried about the old man who worked here for
tened. With a terrifying boom, an airplane breaks                                         40 years and now has nothing but the clothes on
the sound barrier. A little further                                                       his back. Having worked his whole life so that he
away, we see cars driving by.                                                             could be independent, it’s even harder for a man
The IDF is building a road in the                                                         of his age to have to rely on his children.
area around the settlement.                The bulldozer is                               All they have left is to come back to the site of
New electric fences appear as                there, about                                 their former home. They are in mourning, trying
the development expands.                  100 meters (110                                 to accept “the way things are now.” The objects
All those who’ve worked this                                                              uncovered here, connected to some moment of
land for decades are watching
                                          yards) away. It is                              their lives, are like memories rising to the surface.
their years of work wiped out.              huge and fully                                A smashed wood-burning oven reminds them of
They stand by powerless as               armored. It moves                                the barbecues they used to have during the sum-
their source of sustenance is            forward and back                                 mer.
destroyed. A father explains                                                              I am very worried about the people living near
that his children will cry when
                                            as it tears out                               the Netzarim settlement. Most of them haven’t
he returns home tonight and                    the trees.                                 left their houses in four days. I don’t know what
tells his them there is nothing                                                           kind of shape they’ll be in when we find them.
left. He brings us some straw-                                                            Their life is hell right now. The tanks prevent peo-
berries and tells us to enjoy them because                                                ple from moving around. Their living conditions
tomorrow there may be none. We leave with                                                 are extremely precarious but they are complete-
heavy hearts. When we come back, the landsca-                                             ly cut-off and inaccessible. A visiting medical
pe will be changed.                                                                       team would pose no security problem but the-
                                                                                          re’s only the tank here, no military post and so
                                                                                          no one to talk to.
S AT U R D AY, J A N U A RY 6                                                             I’m very concerned about a patient whose
                                                                                          house is located at the junction but I’m afraid to
DUGIT                                                                                     go there. There’s no movement. I don’t even
                                                                                          know if the family is still there or if they’ve left,
“I feel like tar”                                                                         abandoning this young man with serious beha-
                                                                                          vior disorders. He must be in a terrible state by


T
       his morning we tried to get through the                                            now.
       roadblock at the Netzarim junction. The
       Israeli soldiers open it precisely from 9:30
to 11 a.m. The first MSF car was able to pass                                             F R I D AY, J A N U A RY 1 2
and is now in Khan Yunis. When our turn came
we were stopped so we turned around and                                                   DEIR EL-BALAH
went to work in the northern Gaza Strip. I retur-
ned to the place we visited on Wednesday
where I took the picture of the bulldozer. The
                                                                                          Two Intifadas,
house is gone and we met the family that lived
there. They describe their distress at what has
                                                                                          two traumas

                                                                                         I
happened to them. They understand what the                                                   n the area near the road leading to Gush
loss of land and home can mean for their emo-                                                Katif, a young man asks to see me. He has had
tional health. It’s as if they’ve lost a part of them-                                       a problem ever since the Israeli soldiers took
selves. They grew up here and their father cared                                          him away. We sit down. He is very nervous. His
for each tree. Now nothing remains but torn-up                                            speech is rapid and he can’t sit still. I suspect his
land, strewn with dead rabbits run over by the                                            problem may predate that incident. He explains
machines.                                                                                 that he is Bedouin and has lived in the area for
I ask the owner of the house, a 75 year-old man                                           a long time. His family owns land here.
who has just left the hospital, how he feels. “Like                                       Although he wanted to see me about a recent
tar,” he says. His son is giving him Valium to ease                                       experience, I begin by asking him about his
the shock. We walk across a sand dune where                                               past. He describes how during the first Intifada,
their house stood only days ago. Several people                                           he had gone to throw stones at the soldiers.
are digging in the sand, looking for financial                                            He’d been considered the leader of his little
records and, in particular, the 5,000 Jordanian                                           group of friends. When he came home one day,
dinars (7,500 euros) the father had hidden there.                                         he found what looked like a little bomb.
He seems to be moving in a fog, walking slowly                                            Curious, the other children sent him to pick it
and carefully. I advise the son to reduce the dose                                        up. He pulled the pin and it exploded. Luckily, it

                                                                                                                                              39
                                           P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                      was just a noise bomb but his hand was bloody                   symptoms that develop after a trauma. He
                      and he thought he’d lost his thumb. He could                    seems to understand that talking can provide a
                      see the bone, which upset him deeply. He                        release after a psychological shock.
                      fainted in the ambulance on the way to the                      This 20 year-old young man has experienced
                      hospital. The finger was sutured, he didn’t lose                severe shock. In my opinion, he’s suffered two
                      his thumb, and his hand is normal today. Even                   traumas although he is unaware of the impact
                      so, he had been deeply frightened and thought                   the first one had on him.
                      he was going to die. He says he had no after-
                      effects and resumed a normal life. I asked if he
                      had nightmares, but he said no.                                 F R I D AY, J A N U A RY 1 9
                      Next we talked about the recent event. His fami-
                      ly owns a small house on their field near the                   E L M O U N TA R
                      bypass road. He used to go there in the mor-
                      ning and meet his brother. One day, he found
                      the house locked. He called out to his brother
                                                                                      Silent angel
                                                                                     I
                      who did not answer, so he decided to climb                         am surprised to see a little blond girl. The
 April 3
                      over the wall. When he got into the house, a                       men in the family explain that their grandfa-
 The Jewish           man stronger than he pinned him to the floor                       ther, whose family was blond, married a
 settlement of        and tied his hands behind his back. He was sur-                 dark-skinned Palestinian woman. The family
                      prised – he’d thought they were Palestinian sol-                name is Malaka, which means angel. The dis-
 Atsmona (Gaza)
                      diers but they turned out to be Israeli military.               trict, near El Mountar, has the same name.
 is hit by mortar     He saw his brother sitting there, tied up. He was               Unfortunately, this sweet story doesn’t describe
 fire. A mother       afraid they were going to kill him. After a few                 what is happening to the people who live here
 and child are        moments, he was taken in a Jeep with a teena-                   in several houses crowded together near the
                      ger and was struck several times. When they got                 bypass road linking Netzarim and Karni. The
 struck. Israel
                      to the Israeli Army station, he was interrogated                bulldozer did its demolition work and nothing
 sends in             and an intelligence officer checked his back-                   remains between the road and the houses. The
 helicopters and      ground. Knowing there was no file on him, he                    Israeli army is occupying a house on the other
 armored tanks.
                      was reassured and could breathe a bit easier.                   side of the bypass. Everyone in the family must
                      Then the soldiers took him back to the house                    ask the soldiers for permission to go out. They
 More than 60
                      and released both him and the teenager. He                      live in extreme isolation.
 Palestinians are     hasn’t been the same since that day. His friends                One girl tells me that she lost her voice for two
 wounded.             tell him he’s changed and that he talks too fast.               days after a tank attack. That night, a power fai-
                      He offers to take us to the spot. We agree becau-               lure had plunged the house into darkness.
 April 14
                      se I think it is helpful to go back the place where             Everyone was in bed when the tank fired on
 Hezbollah            no one has dared go for a long time. He says he                 them. The girl was afraid of losing her father.
 attacks an Israeli   wouldn’t be able to make this visit without us                  His bedroom had been hit by gunfire. Panicked,
 position in the      but it turns out that we can’t even get close to                she managed to find her way to his room and
                      the house. Everything nearby has been torn                      help him get out. The whole family went
 southern
                      down and we hear firing. There is a watchtower                  downstairs to wait for daybreak. At that
 Lebanon hamlets      in the distance. We make a U-turn. The young                    moment she realized she could no longer
 of Shebaa. An        man seems calmer.                                               speak. She says she felt like she didn’t know
 Israeli soldier is
                      I advise him to reduce his dose of chlorpromazi-                how to use her vocal cords any longer. Only
                      ne. He says it helps him calm down. Still, he is                when she and her father went to see his room,
 killed.
                      unable to concentrate and it’s difficult to study               riddled with gunshot holes, and he told her she
                      for his high school graduation examinations. I                  had saved his life that her voice began to come
                      explain what’s happening to him and that                        back, little by little, first sounds and then words.
                                                                                      I asked her what her first words were. “Ahmdo
                                                                                      lelah,” she says, ”Thanks be to God.”
                                                                                      The grandmother, an elderly woman, fainted
                                                                                      when the night before, the tank rolled up to
                                                                                      the houses. She tells me she lived through the
                                                                                      two Intifadas and had seen all the fields flatte-
                                                                                      ned and Israeli soldiers move in. She’d never
                                                                                      been afraid. She would always say, “It’s not
                                                                                      important, we can replant.” But that night, at
                                                                                      the window of the other house, she saw the
                                                                                      tanks came close to the house where her
                                                                                      children and grandchildren were sleeping. She

40
                                         P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
Tuffah, April 2002. Israeli army builds a wall and cuts of El-Mawassi and Khan Younis.

screamed, felt something leave her body and                                            T H U R S D AY, F E B R U A RY 8
fainted. She speaks calmly, fatigue and tension
visible on her face and body. She hasn’t slept,                                        TUFAH
has eaten nothing and appears very weak.
After our conversation, I advise her to lie down
for a bit and eat something, without forcing
                                                                                       An eye for the
herself.
We meet the family’s children, some of whom are
                                                                                       cause

                                                                                       W
building tanks out of clay. Their models are sur-                                                 e had met Ibrahim for the first time at
prisingly well-made and they’ve developed a                                                       the Khan Yunis hospital, where we
technique that allows the tank’s turret to pivot.                                                 learned that he’d been struck by Israeli
The models are very like the real thing and show                                       soldiers. He was confined to his hospital bed, suf-
that the children have mastered construction                                           fering from multiple contusions. He had a hard
techniques. The children are                                                           time sitting up in bed to greet us. Ibrahim has
proud to show them to us.                                                              only one eye. He lost the other during the first
Christine, our doctor, explained                                                       Intifada. He told us about his capture near the
to the skeptical parents that                                                          Tufah checkpoint. Six soldiers attacked him
such games allow children to
                                         The children make                             when he was brought into the settlement. Later,
gain control over overwhelming            tanks out of clay.                           he was released and taken to the hospital.
situations.                               They look like the                           Ibrahim had told us that he wasn’t afraid and
This family has been deeply              real thing and are                            that as soon as he felt better he would return to
affected by the events. Their iso-                                                     the checkpoint.
lation further increases their
                                          built to allow the                           He’s not talking like that today. He is experien-
anxiety and sense of insecurity.           tanks’ turrets to                           cing post-traumatic stress and does nothing
The soldiers have already come                    pivot.                               all day long. He remains in bed, smoking and
into the house. They are all afraid                                                    thinking about how he will get revenge. He still
of the occupation and the des-                                                         suffers from the blows he received but also has
truction of houses. It is unusual                                                      symptoms linked to the psychological trauma.
to see so many traumas within a single family.                                         He feels week and has headaches. He says

                                                                                                                                         41
                                        P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                        he will never forget the people who struck him.                  self. He still has severe pain in his leg. In his pre-
                        He explains that because of his one eye, he was                  sence, his mother tells us that it will be difficult to
                        rejected when he applied to become a police offi-                find a wife for him. He was fine before but now
                        cer. As a result, he had to work in the settlements              he is weak and thin. I intend to see him for a
                        and, thus, for the Israelis. He believes his friends             longer visit and to work with him on those
                        consider him a traitor. His sense of injustice is also           moments when he lost control and let himself by
                        fanned by a relationship that ended badly.                       overwhelmed by violence.
                        Ibrahim can no longer bear to listen to television               These accounts capture the violence spilling over
                        reports about people who’ve been wounded or                      in Tufah. Firing has continued incessantly for
                        beaten. Those images are constantly in his mind.                 more than four months. Every family has someo-
                        He is nervous and becomes irritated easily. At                   ne who’s been wounded or traumatized.
                        night, he argues with his friends and feels exclu-
                        ded from their group. He’s hurt when people
                        stare at him but today he points to his lost eye as              S AT U R D AY, M A R C H 3
                        proof of his commitment to “the cause.” At the
                        end of our conversation, he seems a little calmer                TUFAH
 April 17               and asks if we are coming back. That reassures
 For the first time     him a bit. A few days ago, he went back to the
                        checkpoint with some journalists. He became
                                                                                         Thinking about
 since its 1994
 retreat, the Israeli
                        agitated and wanted to fight the soldiers. He
                        hasn’t gone back, but I’m afraid he will. He has
                                                                                         bullets

                                                                                         T
 army reoccupies        no hopes for the future and his friends only                            oday in Tufah I met three people wounded
 territories in the     remind him of his problems.                                             by gunshots and another hit by a rubber
 northern Gaza
                        That same day we met Mahmoud, 11, who lives                             bullet. Hania’s mother calls out to me in
                        in Tufah. He was struck in the head by a rubber                  the street and asks me to visit her 14 year-old
 Strip. Armored         bullet. Since the incident, his mother tells us he               daughter who “hasn’t been the same” since the
 tanks that had         has become aggressive. She’s afraid something                    events. At that point, I didn’t know that the girl
 taken up               will happen to him. He lost a bit of his skull and               had been shot in the spine. Hania is confined to
                        a pulsing blood vessel is visible underneath.                    bed. She smiles frequently but twists her hands
 positions in Beit
                        Mahmoud says he often thinks about what hap-                     nervously. At the beginning of each interview, I
 Hanoun withdraw        pened to him. He tells me about a dream in                       introduce myself and ask the interpreter to do the
 under US               which he is trapped beneath an Israeli jeep. A                   same. I have a world map so I can show Hania
 pressure.              soldier climbs down from the vehicle and shoots                  where France is in relation to Palestine. She does-
                        him. One of Mahmoud’s friends is shot, too. A                    n’t know how to read or write but she seems to
 April 18
                        third youngster, Ahmed, intervenes and saves his                 understand my explanation. I show her Palestine,
 In spite of            two friends but he is shot twice, once in the arm                Algeria and other countries, explaining that each
 everything, Israeli    and again in the leg. They are all taken to the                  has its own language. Then I try to explain what
 incursions into
                        hospital. Ahmed remains while Mahmoud is                         a psychologist is. I ask her if she understands why
                        released.                                                        her mother has asked me to come see her.
 Gaza continue.
                        Mahmoud is mixing dream and reality as he was,                   She says that the bullet remaining in her body
 April 21               indeed, taken to the Shifa hospital. Ahmed has                   bothers her a lot. The doctors have not been able
 An Israeli-            become a hero who haunts his dreams. Severely                    to remove it. She had been in front of her house
                        wounded, Ahmed remains in the hospital and                       when she was suddenly racked by pain. Her sister
 Palestinian
                        will be disabled when he leaves. Mahmoud                         asked what had happened and saw Hania bleed-
 meeting on             continues to explain how the “chebabs” (young                    ing. The two girls ran to an ambulance nearby.
 security takes         fighters) threw Molotov cocktails during an                      Hania was treated at hospitals in Khan Yunis,
 place at the Erez      encounter with armed settlers. He relates all this               Gaza, Amman and Saudi Arabia. Every doctor
                        in a monotone, barely stopping between sen-                      refused to operate, saying she would not survive.
 checkpoint. From
                        tences. Now he lives in a world filled with violent              Finally, one physician explained that the bullet
 the Israeli side,      memories. Images and dreams remind him                           was serving as a bandage and must not be
 coooperation on        constantly of what he has been through.                          moved out of place. Hania, who wanted to
 security matters
                        A little while ago, I met another adolescent who                 become a housewife, can no longer perform
                        was hit by two bullets. One remains in his body                  household tasks.
 appears to be
                        near his hip. I saw him again today and after lis-               She is very anxious today. Gunfire never frigh-
 ongoing.               tening to his mother, I’m still very worried about               tened her before but she now can’t cope with
                        him. Apparently he trapped a child, locked him                   the noise. This feeling upsets her and she is asha-
                        in a room and beat him. When asked why, he                       med. She often recalls images from the day she
                        said he doesn’t know and that the child hadn’t                   was shot and they make her tense. Her friends
                        done anything. He can no longer control him-                     come to see her every day to cheer her up but

42
                                            P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
Funeral services at the martyrs’ cemetery of Hebron at the end of April 2002. Eight people, including three fighters, were killed a day
earlier in an Israeli attack.


nothing is the same. I ask her if it’s because she           feels that his body is not as strong as it used to
feels different. She answers that she can’t play             be. He has no appetite, no longer sleeps and
any more for fear of dislodging the bullet. And              doesn’t play sports or work anymore. He does-
now she’s afraid to leave her house. She goes out            n’t want to go back to Al Mawassi. He thinks the
as little as possible. She thinks the Israeli soldiers       Israeli soldiers have his picture and will try to kill
might find her, wherever she is.                             him. He even dreams that they capture him and
I try to return to her feelings and thoughts from            shoot him in the throat. This idea torments him.
the time when the doctors told her she was                   I point out to him that he
going to die. She had been struck by the idea                can’t remember anything
that she had not yet had a chance to do any-                 because he had fainted. He
thing good in life. This is very painful for her and         agrees, but after he learned
I prefer not to dwell on it. Hania lives constantly          he’d been hurt, he thought                 Hania still has a
with the idea that if the bullet moves and no lon-           that the soldiers had wanted             bullet in her back.
ger serves its role as a bandage, she will die. As a         to kill him. Like Hania, he is no
result, she cannot overcome the experience that              longer as active as before. He
                                                                                                        She thinks Israeli
almost killed her.                                           doesn’t recognize his own                  soldiers might be
Next I meet Farid, 16. I have to explain to him              body anymore. He can’t                      able to find her,
what France is. He’s never heard of the United               handle frustration and breaks               wherever she is.
States or Bill Clinton. He understands, feels he             objects that annoy him.
can trust us and tells us that he was shot in the            The third adolescent is named
knee and the pelvis. The second bullet remains               Nidal. She was hit in the skull
lodged there. Farid was coming from Al                       by a rubber bullet. At the hospi-
Mawassi when he was shot. He had been pick-                  tal, the doctor removed the bullet and closed the
ing tomatoes for the settlers. He fainted imme-              injury with wound clips. Her friends tell her she
diately and woke up an hour later in the hospi-              isn’t as smart as she was. She does have a lot of dif-
tal, where he learned that he had been shot                  ficulty concentrating and no longer does as well at
twice. He panicked. His knee was very painful                school as before. She feels as if a bit of metal
and he couldn’t sleep or walk. Like Hania, he                remains in her head and she doesn’t want to have

                                                                                                                                      43
                                           P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                 “Desolate surroundings,
             pounded by a cold January rain.”
       In early 2001, an MSF team discovers the extent of destruction after
                  an Israeli army operation in the Rafah district.



     A
               fter the last Israeli        a threat is issued from
               army incursion in            the nearby watch-
               Rafah, we went to the        tower. “If you’re not
               Yebna district where         gone by the count of
     we were able to assess the             three, I’m firing.”
     extent of the destruction. Some        Two months earlier,
     40 houses had been destroyed,          we noticed that not
     leaving more than 200 people           all soldiers bother to
     homeless. Men, women, child-           issue similar warnings.
     ren, and elderly people were           Without notice, two
     prepar-ing to set up tents,            rounds of M16 machi-
     which had been distributed by          ne-gun fire aimed at
     the ICRC, next to those of their       the ground burst from
     former neighbors whose homes           that same watchtower, splitting            slowly towards the sky and, in a
     had been torn down two                 a crowd of “undesirables” into             whisper, says, “Wait for God to
     months earlier. Drained of ener-       two distinct groups; one to the            take pity on us.”
     gy and resources, the Palestinian      right of the shots, the other to           In silence, we return to our car,
     Authority has not found hous-          the left. No one is likely to come         which is parked a few streets
     ing for these families who lost        back there!                                away. As we make our way
     everything in the space of a few       We are very careful not to move            through the narrow alleys we
     hours. The situation is even           out of the watchtower’s blind              think about the emotional
     more worrisome because winter          spot. As we continue through               wounds that have just been
     has begun, and with it, cold           the desolate surroundings, a               inflicted. How many people will
     and rain. Nothing remains of           cold January rain beats down.              find a way out without suffering
     the destroyed houses. We are           No one speaks. Faces are                   severe psychological damage?
     walking through rubble.                serious. Some people stare with            Will it be this cold tomorrow?
     Amid the debris we notice tra-
     ces of daily life, interrupted and          It is impossible to pull mementos, papers
     broken off suddenly: a shoe
     here, a sweater there, a casse-
                                               or objects from the debris. Soldiers stationed
     role, and a toy. As we learn the           at a watchtower threaten to fire if anyone
     circumstances of the tragedy,                               approaches.
     the scenario, although terri-
     fying, sounds typical of many          empty expressions. A man                   Will it still be raining? And will
     others. Several tanks appeared         explains why the Palestinian               the tents be distributed today?
     suddenly and fired. Panicked,          police, who were present at the            We finally reach the car.
     residents fled without being           time, did not shoot. “If they              Coughing, the engine starts up
     able to grab anything. Then            had, it would’ve been worse,”              as rain pelts the windshield.
     army bulldozers began to des-          he says.                                   After a few seconds of silence,
     troy the buildings. There’s no         Another man shows us what                  we turn to our translator.
     point in trying to recover             remains of his house. He has               “Are you all right?” His dignity
     mementos, papers, or clothing          nothing. When we ask him                   requires that he smile, sadly.
     from what remains of the               what he and his family are                 “Chouaia, chouaia,” he
     house. Over the loudspeaker,           going to do, he raises his eyes            answers. “It’s O.K., it’s O.K.




44
                               P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
the clips removed because she is afraid her skull           really wanted to kill him. When he regained
might split open. In psychological terms, Nidal is          consciousness, his head and legs hurt. His grand-
less affected than her friends, even if her obsession       mother massaged him. The next morning, his
prevents her from feeling at ease. I suggest that           mother noticed that he had spots on his legs.
she go to the doctor and let him remove the clips.          – What do you think these spots mean?
In each of these stories, the body has been                 – They’re from being scared.
violated and penetrated. That penetration pro-              – Does that worry you?
duces genuine psychological after-effects that              – Yes, I’m afraid of dying.
change the person’s relationship to his or her              – Dying? Why?
physical self. The body has become weak and                 – Because of the operation.
now carries within it the death that these ado-             – What operation?
lescents have seen close-up.                                – The operation for the spots.
                                                            Ahmed often dreams about what happened. He
                                                            sees himself approaching his grandmother’s
W E D N E S D AY, M A R C H 2 3                             house and coming under fire. He can’t sleep.

GAZA                                                                                                                April 22
                                                            S U N D AY, A P R I L 8
Spots on his legs                                           AL MURAGH
                                                                                                                    A bomb attack
                                                                                                                    near a bus stop



A
        hmed is an 11 year-old boy whose family                                                                     in the center of
        home is occupied by Israeli soldiers. His
        mother and grandmother bring him to us
                                                            “Like an animal                                         Kfar Saba (Tel

because spots appeared on his skin after he had
a severe fright. Our doctor, Hélène, examines
                                                            circling a post”                                        Aviv) kills two
                                                                                                                    and injures 39.



                                                            T
him and observes depigmentation on both tibia,                      he Al Muragh mosque stands out in the           Hamas claims
his feet and a round area on his buttocks. He tells                 distance. As we move up the road, we see
                                                                                                                    responsibility.
us what happened. Unaware that Israeli soldiers                     Ouad’s house next to it. He joins us in his
had occupied the roof of his grandmother’s                  neighbor’s garden in the middle of orange gro-          April 23
house, he had decided to visit his relatives to tell        ves. We hold the consultation out of view in the        A Palestinian
them his mother had come home after a trip                  courtyard. We are not authorized to go to his           child is killed in
abroad with his sister, who had an operation.               house, which is located near the bypass road lea-
                                                                                                                    the southern
He took the usual route, passing in front of the            ding to Netzarim. The tank moves forward to
Palestinian station on his way to the bypass road           signal us to stay away. Only Ouad and his two           Gaza Strip.
that he had to cross to reach the house. As he              wives are authorized to cross a small road that         May 2
crossed, he was suddenly caught in Israeli sol-             cuts through the fields of orange trees that have
                                                                                                                    With Ariel
diers’ gunfire. Ahmed explains in great detail              been uprooted and destroyed. The destruction
that he was next to an electricity pole but did not         was so violent that it is hard to imagine the for-      Sharon
see camouflage on the roof. I asked him to tell             mer 20 hectares of orange trees. (It took 40 wor-       presiding, the
me exactly what he had heard. I imitate the                 kers more than a week to harvest the 600 tons.)         Israeli Security
sound of shooting that he makes repeatedly – it’s           No one comes to pick the oranges any more so
                                                                                                                    Cabinet meets in
bursts of gunfire. He heard a bullet whistle past           they rot silently in the fields. Ouad’s fields are a
his ear and thought he had been hit. He felt as if          little further away towards the Netzarim settle-        the Jewish
someone was pulling his hair. His legs hurt and             ment but there is no more access to them. And           settlement of
shook. His head felt hot. He staggered and fell in          what would he do there? The 3,400 feet of vines         Ofra.
a faint. The last thing he saw was the color oran-          that made him the region’s largest grower have
                                                                                                                    Simultaneously,
ge, which seemed to fill his visual field.                  been uprooted.
Ahmed describes a sharp pain in his back during             Even after more than 15 years in Israeli prisons,       armored tanks
the brief moment between the onset of firing                Ouad feels differently about this latest depri-         and bulldozers
and when he fainted. “It’s as if someone were               vation of liberty. He circles his house “like an ani-
                                                                                                                    carry out a
throwing stones at me.” He knew that he was                 mal circling a post.” He has nothing left and is
wounded. His brother was hit in the hand. He                supported by his brothers. He feels like he is in       nighttime
understands you can die from being shot in the              prison. The worst is that his earlier success allow-    incursion into
heart or the head. I ask him if he knows what               ed him to help his family, while now he needs           the Rafah
death is. Yes, he says. “It’s like when someone is          help to survive.
                                                                                                                    refugee camp.
asleep except that he doesn’t move when you                 Mohand’s family has lived along the road lea-
try to wake him up.”                                        ding to the Netzarim settlement for years.
The soldiers were firing over his head to frighten          Mother and four sons live there in four houses
him. Ahmed doesn’t know for certain that they               they built for their families. The houses are still

                                                                                                                                         45
                                          P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
The beach at Gaza on a Friday in July 2002. It is the only open space available to most of the territory’s residents.

May 5                  standing, although the building next door has                     T U E S D AY, A P R I L 1 0
                       been destroyed, like many others in the district.
The Independent
newspaper
                       For more than three months, Israeli army soldiers                 JOHOR EL DIQ
                       have been using the roof of the tallest house as a
publishes              strategic lookout. Life has become difficult. The
                       tanks’ comings and goings along the road raise a
                                                                                         “Dialogue of
extracts of the
preliminary
                       permanent dust that covers everything. To pro-
                       tect themselves and avoid respiratory problems,
                                                                                         deaf-mutes”

                                                                                         T
report of the          the family has no choice but to stay closed inside                       o reach a group of houses sheltering this
international          the house. The movements of the heavy vehicles                           large family, we must cross the road
commission on
                       create vibrations and make noises which frighten                         leading to the Netzarim settlement. We
                       the children. As they go between the houses,                      had already come in March. Gaining access to
violence in Israel.
                       family members move slowly and deliberately so                    this house is an ongoing battle, although the
The report calls       as not to create suspicion in the soldiers’ minds.                Israeli army never puts its refusal in writing,
on Israel to end       The soldiers have authorized the family to work                   which would make the denial official. Although
                       and leave the house, but they must still notify the               we planned today’s visit a week in advance, our
its settlement
                       soldiers when they go and are required to be                      efforts are fruitless. Two Jeeps stop along the
activity and use       back inside before the middle of the afternoon.                   road. We manage to establish contact with the
of rubber              The oldest of the four brothers feels like he’s a                 soldiers but they tell us to leave. After phone
bullets.               human shield protecting the others from the sol-                  negotiations with various parties, the soldiers
                       diers upstairs. His wife struggles to maintain a                  break off our conversation and threaten to shoot
                       minimum of intimacy within the family. The                        if we stay in the no man’s land on both sides of
                       door leading to the staircase remains closed as                   the road. We turn around and wait for news
                       much as possible and the soldiers are billeted                    from the Israeli army, which never comes.
                       upstairs. Early on, the soldiers slept in the same                But more troubling than this unfortunate episo-
                       apartment as the family.                                          de is the life that this family of 30 people has
                       This is a difficult situation. The adults have beco-              been living since December. The house, which is
                       me weak and the main question is, How long                        in a strategic position, provides the military an
                       will this go on?                                                  ideal checkpoint. A dozen soldiers occupy it.

46
                                            P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
Only clearly-identified family members may                road and the landmarks are gone. Ahmed is
enter the no man’s land. Their life has been turn-        there, sitting on the ground under a makeshift
ed upside down. They haven’t had water for a              shelter made of a piece of fabric held up by four
long time and their wells have been destroyed.            bits of wood. His house is next to him. “Luckily,”
Rain is the only source of water but their reserves       it’s only half-destroyed. He welcomes us with his
are dwindling and the water quality is declining.         usual smile. He livens up and finds – I have no
The situation is tragic for everyone in the family,       idea where – two chairs.
but especially for the children and the oldest of         He, too, had to flee last night although he had
the three brothers. The Israeli soldiers are hold-        resisted since the Intifada began. He tells us that
ing him hostage in his own house and using                two tanks and a helicopter fired more violently
him as a human shield against possible attacks.           than ever before. Then the bulldozers started
                                                          working. They kept up all night.
                                                          Ahmed used to hold forth about peace. Now
W E D N E S D AY, A P R I L 1 1                           this man whose house is riddled with bullets
                                                          and whose son is an Israeli prisoner no longer
TUFAH                                                     believes in peace. A month ago, the Israeli army
                                                          prohibited him from visiting his son. For the first
Like an enormous                                          time I saw him and his wife demoralized. No one
                                                          offered any explanation for the prohibition and
earthquake                                                the Red Cross couldn’t help. That was the first
                                                          time I sensed their resolve weaken and their


W
            hile en route, we learn from our doc-         hopes for peace give way. But Ahmed is holding
            tor, Hélène, that property has been           up and has begun building a
            destroyed in Tufah. We arrive in Khan         tent in the place where fifty
Yunis and find lots of people there. We had               years ago, as a refugee, he’d
expected to find that a few houses had been               hoped to start a more tranquil           I am very worried
torn down but we were wrong. We’ve been                   life. In those days, the Neve            as I look for Abu’s
coming to this district for more than four months         Dekalim settlement didn’t yet              house. We have
but it’s unrecognizable now. Rubble is piled on           extend to his house.
both sides of the road for a distance of some 50          A man is erecting a tent on a            been treating him
meters. The area looks as if a huge earthquake            pile of rubble. We approach to                 for several
had hit. Only one house remains standing in the           speak to him. After I introduce           months. Perhaps
midst of the ruins. But the state of the ground           myself, his rage against the
floor suggests that a bulldozer has attacked it.          Western nations bursts forth.
                                                                                                    the house wasn’t
We don’t recognize anything. The holes in the             “They let the Israelis do what                 damaged.
façades of the houses still standing speak to the         they want while no one takes
violence of the firing.                                   our side.” Like many Pales-
I am very worried as I search for Abu’s house. We         tinians, the sense of having been abandoned is
have been treating him for several months.                very strong.
Maybe it wasn’t touched. The interpreter and I            After calming down, he explains how the bull-
climb over rubble that was once the walls of              dozers came to his house. The tanks were firing
houses. We have to take another street as piles of        constantly. Hidden in a bedroom with his child-
debris block our way. Abu’s house is almost enti-         ren, he saw the engine attack the front rooms.
rely destroyed. The whole family is there in              He tells us that the children were crying as the
shock, looking at the damage. The grandmother             machine headed toward the neighbor’s house.
welcomes us with tears in her eyes. She leans             I ask him why he is raising his tent on the ruins,
against the only remaining piece of furniture and         exposed to gunfire. Now that part of Tufah has
seems not to believe what she is looking at. Abu’s        been leveled, everyone is exposed to firing, espe-
sister recognizes us and comes over, smiling. She         cially those who face the settlement. “Where will
acts as if nothing has happened and apologizes            I go?” he answers. It’s difficult enough to live in
that she can’t offer us a chair. Maybe she’s happy        a house in Tufah. Living in a tent on this spot is
about leaving this house that’s become a hell             suicidal. We hear gunfire as we’re talking and the
since the Intifada began. I don’t know what to            crowd starts to run. He doesn’t move. He’s seen
say to this family that has just lost everything.         and heard too much.
Luckily, they all left the house yesterday, when          Next we go to Um Yousouf’s house. Her daugh-
the firing began. Next we look for Ahmed’s                ter is disabled. We know Um Yousouf can’t flee
house, which we know is among those closest to            quickly because of her baby and this little girl
the settlement. Climbing over the rubble, we              who can’t walk. Indeed, the entire family stayed
walk in what we think is the right direction. The         through the night, terrorized by the gunfire. The

                                                                                                                         47
                                        P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                     resin roof tiles have cracked from the blast. Um                 had only a few minutes to flee, taking his wife and
                     Yousouf will leave the house tonight, hoping the                 children.
                     bulldozers won’t destroy it. Everyone who lives                  While we are talking, several gawkers come to see
                     here is sure of one thing: the army will return.                 what happened last night. Tarek and his neighbor
                     I know Tufah well and can say that large families                try to make them leave. They remain calm. Firmly,
                     lived in all these houses. If Gaza is known as                   they say there is nothing to see and that it’s dan-
                     the region with the world’s highest population                   gerous to be here. Tarek knows the Israeli army
                     density, Tufah is certainly the most densely-                    would destroy his house at the least provocation.
                     populated area in the Gaza Strip.                                He’s never made any problems, he says, no one
                                                                                      has ever come to shoot or throw a stone from his
                                                                                      house. Suddenly, a group of determined young
                     M O N D AY, A P R I L 1 6                                        people approach. They’ve come to fight the army.
                                                                                      Tarek rises, followed by his neighbors, one of
                     RAFAH                                                            whom has picked up a stick. They won’t let these
                                                                                      young people pass. They respect their fight but

May 13
                     No right to be                                                   don’t want to pay the consequences. Tarek has to
                                                                                      protect his family and his house. Voices are raised,
Israel defends its   weak                                                             but the young people end up turning around.
                                                                                      They return to apologize.
harsh policy of


                     T
                            he bulldozers came as far as Tarek’s house.               Tarek is unaware of his role in the family. He
“liquidating”               His situation has not improved. For six                   makes it possible for them to stay together.
Palestinian                 months, he, his wife and their seven child-               Unemployed since the Intifada began, he feels
                     ren have been living in the storeroom on the                     he can’t guarantee his children’s safety. He sees
activists and the
                     ground floor of their house. The house faces the                 himself as a bad father. Today this house, which
“natural growth      Israeli army watchtower located along the                        he spent his life building, is worthless and could
of settlements.”     Egyptian frontier. Riddled with gunshot, the                     be destroyed tomorrow.
May 15               house has become so dangerous that we can no                     A noose is tightening around him. He can’t make
                     longer enter.                                                    up his mind to leave, so he is putting himself in
Fifty-third
                     Tarek has collapsed. Last week, he was so agita-                 danger. He wants to defend the house but he
anniversary of       ted he fainted and had to be hospitalized. He                    stops the young people who want to take on the
the founding of      tells us that he’s barely alive any more. He can’t               Israeli army. He can’t work but he must still provi-
the State of
                     stand the continual gunfire that tortures his days               de for his family. It’s easy to see how hard it must
                     and haunts his nights. How can you sleep under                   be for him to remain calm. In spite of that noose,
Israel. Four
                     these conditions when, at any moment, your                       he doesn’t have the right to be weak.
protesting           children could be shot?
Palestinians are     One day he tried to spend some time with friends
killed and more
                     outside the district. But the sound of gunfire                   T U E S D AY, A P R I L 1 7
                     brought them back. That’s what happens to most
than 200 are         people in this situation. If they manage to get                  BEIT HANOUN
wounded. In the      away, the shooting drives them back. Their fear
West Bank, an        for their families and their houses is stronger than
                     the fear of dying.
                                                                                      “Cut in half”
Israeli woman is


                                                                                     B
                     Tarek would like to sleep, even if only for one                      eit Hanoun is a region in the northern Gaza
killed in her car,   night. He complains of the changes he senses in                      Strip at the Israeli frontier. The Red Cross
targeted by          himself. Before, he thought of himself as a calm                     had notified us about a family there and
Palestinians.
                     person who maintained good relationships with                    we went to see them a while ago.
                     his neighbors. Now he becomes agitated easily,
May 18
                     can’t tolerate the children’s noise and feels very
At Netanya, a        distant from his neighbors who he thinks do not
Hamas suicide        understand his situation. He says it’s the same with
                     the Palestinian Authority, which has never come
bomber blows
                     to help or support him. His feelings of abandon-
himself up at the    ment and danger suck all his strength.
entrance to a        He is still in shock today. Not a single house
shopping mall.       remains standing to the right of his. A wide swath
                     of debris is all that’s left. Tarek invites us to sit
Five people die
                     down. He needs to talk and express what is tortur-
and more than        ing him. His hands tremble as he recounts how
70 are wounded.      bulldozers came in the middle of the night. He

48
                                         P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
“On Monday they came at 1:00 in the morning … At 4:00, we came back. Some of our neighbors didn’t have houses anymore.”

Last night, bombings followed mortar fire from                                        wasn’t there during our first visit. I ask him what
the direction of Sderot (Israel), a town near Beit                                    he feels when he’s afraid. He says that he trem-
Hanoun. The family we know lived next to the                                          bles, his legs hurt and that the pain comes back
frontier and had to leave after an Israeli military                                   whenever he hears gunfire. Rami tells us that he
operation. Today they live with                                                       is cold and tries to get warm by going under the
a relative a little further away.                                                     covers. Since the army leveled everything
The “hajj,” the leader of the                                                         around his house, he has had the same night-
family, comes to meet us. He is                   Tarek has never                     mare in which soldiers arrive with dogs that trap
very upset and seems to be in                  made any trouble.                      him and tear his clothes. Radir dreams that he his
shock. His hands tremble and                     No one has ever                      house is bombed while he is inside with his bro-
his voice catches. He tells us                                                        thers and sisters. The little girl, Kifah, sees soldiers
about the night he’s just expe-                   thrown a stone                      arrive and take the men of the family (her father
rienced. With each explosion,                  from his house. He                     and uncles). I ask her where she got this idea.
the house seemed to leap from                        supports the                     She says it already happened. During the first
its foundations and then fall                                                         Intifada, soldiers entered the house and shut the
back down. He hasn’t slept.
                                                 Intifada but he’s                    children up in a bedroom. Then they separated
This morning, he learned that a                 got to think of his                   the men and women.
youth from the district was lite-                        family.                      Moaz asks me why his brother urinates when he
rally cut in half by a missile. He                                                    hears gunfire. Assem, 12, is very upset. I explain
keeps repeating, “cut in half.”                                                       that each person expresses fear in his own way.
He says that since the Israelis                                                       Some tremble, others feel cold or have pains in
stole his land and his house, he’s lost his dignity.                                  their legs or stomach and others urinate. It’s not
As a refugee, he remembers being one of the                                           the least bit abnormal.
first to arrive here. Little by little, the Israelis have                             Then I ask the youngest children if they think
moved closer to his house and now he’s been                                           grown-ups could be scared, too. “Yes,” they ans-
chased out. Tears come to his eyes.                                                   wer. Everyone is afraid. Especially yesterday. We
Next I speak with his grandchildren in a group.                                       thought the Israeli tanks and bulldozers would
We talk about their fears and dreams. Ibrahim                                         have been the most terrifying experience for the

                                                                                                                                             49
                                       P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                                                             Mohammad is
                                                             a retired English
                                                             teacher. He proudly
                                                             shows these pictures
                                                             of Arafat, standing
                                                             a few yards from Israeli
                                                             positions.




50
     P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
children. “No,” they say. “The bombings last
night were awful.” Moaz describes how the mis-                                               MSF psycho-medical
siles were fired toward Gaza from the other side                                             team in Hebron
of the border. Unfortunately, the house where
they are staying is very isolated and could be an
easy target. The children know that. They expect                                   S AT U R D AY, J U LY 2 1 , 2 0 0 1
the Israeli army to appear.
I ask the children what they think about the futu-
re. Hoacim says it would be better to die than see
                                                                                   Pregnant and
all this. He thinks the soldiers will                                              stopped at the
continue to advance, pull up
trees and destroy houses. Moaz
                                                                                   roadblock
                                               I ask the little
                                                                                   O
would rather that the Israelis                                                              n our way to visit to a family, we noticed
occupy Gaza. He thinks that way                                                             that two soldiers had stopped a women
they would stop tearing every-
                                             ones if they think                             at the checkpoint and would not let her
thing down and shooting every-               grown-ups could                       continue. We waited to see what would happen
one.                                          be scared too.                       and spoke with the woman. She explained that
We think the bombing will resu-                  “Yes,” they                       the soldiers would not allow her to cross to go to
me tonight. I tell them and ask                                                    a doctor’s appointment.
what it’s like on a day when you                    answer.                        We spoke to the soldiers. They told us that there
know the coming night will be                                                      was a curfew and that Palestinians were not
violent. “I’m afraid this could be                                                 allowed on the streets. We explained that she
my last night,” they say.                                                          was going to see a doctor and she showed the
After last night’s bombing, we learn that the                                      soldiers her swollen hand. After some discussion,
Gaza Strip has again been cut in three. Israeli for-                               they finally allowed her to cross and see her doc-
ces have imposed travel restrictions, just as they                                 tor.
did two months ago. We take the coast road                                         We then visited a woman who had been 8
near the Netzarim settlement, which does not                                       months pregnant. At 10 p.m., she began having
intersect any Israeli roads.                                                       contractions. She called the Red Cross ambulan-
Today, few people are taking the coast road to                                     ce but the soldiers at the Karantina checkpoint
get to the central zone. We’re surprised to learn                                  refused to let it pass. They didn’t want to autho-
that a child has gone ahead of us on the road.                                     rize the ambulance to cross and pick up the
The Palestinian soldiers confirm that we can get                                   woman. The ambulance spent about an hour
through. Only fear holds people back. Step by                                      trying to get in. Finally the woman managed to
step, we move ahead. The road is noticeably                                        find a car and get to the Al Ahli hospital. She
calm. A slow-moving ambulance passes us and                                        came alone and her husband remained at home
stops four hundred meters ahead. When we                                           with their children. She gave birth and the baby
catch up, we realize why it’s physically impossible                                is healthy.
to move on. At around 3 a.m., bulldozers came
and dug out four sections of the road to a depth
of more than a meter.                                                              W E D N E S D AY, A U G U S T 2 2
Blocking the coast road is equivalent to blocking
Palestinians’ lives. It is a collective punishment.
Whether this road is open or closed will not
                                                                                   Family implosion

                                                                                  I
affect security at the Netzarim settlement.                                          n early February, I treated a 9 year-old girl who
                                                                                     was enuretic and suffered from nightmares
                                                                                     and anxiety. She has had to rush home from
                                                                                   school several times. She was terrified of the sol-
                                                                                   diers, the bullets that could injure or kill her and
                                                                                   teargas bombs that could suffocate her and her
                                                                                   mother.
                                                                                   On my second home visit, I met her father. He
                                                                                   looked sad and demoralized. He told me that he
                                                                                   had lost his job at the beginning of the Intifada.
                                                                                   He used to go to Kiryat Arba every day where he
                                                                                   worked as a cook in a restaurant. Before that, he
                                                                                   went to Jerusalem to earn a living to support his
                                                                                   family of six children. But one day there was a
                                                                                   curfew and he couldn’t get back. The baby, their

                                                                                                                                      51
                                    P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
     “If you want to leave, you can leave…”
            We meet with a family whose roof has become a permanent base
              for Israeli soldiers. Despite the humiliations of the situation,
                         the father refuses to abandon the house.


     J   uly 2001 – We are in the
         heart of the Gaza Strip in a
         Palestinian house close to
        the Jewish settlement of
     Netzarim. A family of nine lives
                                            Palestinians – torn up, green-
                                            houses demolished, and neigh-
                                            bors’ houses flattened like hund-
                                            reds of others in the Gaza Strip.
                                            It has become almost impossi-
                                                                                        openly. We call the head of the
                                                                                        family in the house on our cell-
                                                                                        phone to make sure that the
                                                                                        soldiers won’t fire on us. Several
                                                                                        minutes later, an army Jeep
     here, including a newborn, the         ble to reach the family’s house.            stops on the road in front of the
     head of the family, his wife, and      You have to climb over piles of             house. A soldier signals us to
     the grandmother. The roof of           dirt and straddle branches of fel-          approach. He checks our docu-
     their home has been occupied           led trees. Israeli army bulldozers          ments and searches our bags,
     for several months by Israeli sol-     have devastated the landscape.              which contain medicines, as
     diers who’ve turned it into a          Despite several attempts over               well as food and cooking oil.
     military post. The house over-         the last four months, the MSF               We will have to wait several
     looks the bypass road that the         medical team has been unable                minutes to receive authorization
     settlers use to travel among the       to visit this family. The last              to continue.
     Jewish settlements in Gaza.            attempt ended when Israeli sol-             When we finally reach the
     Camouflage nets are stretched          diers posted on the roof of the             house, the soldiers are wat-
     across the roof and between the        house fired warning shots. The              ching. But the children quickly
     sandbags; you can sometimes            team realized it had to leave.              surround us. The grandmother
     make out a soldier’s shadow.           Now it is 9:00 a.m. and the                 hugs us and welcomes us into
     The house stands alone, isolated.      MSF team once again makes its               the second-floor apartment.
     Since the Intifada began in            way across the battered, pock-              There is a strange commotion.
     September 2000, the orchards           marked road. We see the grand-              Soldiers are talking outside the
     have been destroyed, the fruit         mother coming toward us and                 front door. Inside, children are
     trees – the pride of the               we decide to move ahead,                    crying, laughing, or watching us




52
                                P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
silently. Conversation begins             the father says, proudly. “They                 need to show the Israeli soldiers
easily, without any delay.                told me, ‘If you want to leave,                 that we haven’t been forgotten,
Overnight, this Palestinian family        you can leave.’ You know, I’m                   that people from abroad are
found itself hostage to the Israeli       no superman. I’m afraid, but my                 paying attention to us. Everyone
soldiers occupying its house.             fear of losing my house is stron-               needs to know what is happe-
“When the soldiers arrived,               ger. Leaving means death, but if                ning here.” Continuing, he says,
there was nothing we could do.            I’m killed, that’s unimportant.”                “This is my home. But they’ve
A captain told us they were here          The father had several brushes                  stolen my life and my dignity.
for security reasons. Ever since,         with death when shots were                      The soldiers say they’re here to
we’ve been human shields.”                fired into the room where was                   protect the settlers. But what
The grandmother explains their            standing. He shows us where a                   about me? Who is protecting
living conditions. “The soldiers          bullet hit the window and main-                 me?”
only let the children play outside        tains that it came from Israeli                 In spite of himself, the head of
one at a time,” she says. “They           army gunfire. Another small                     the family has become a stan-
frighten them and sometimes               military fort, a few hundred                    dard bearer. “If we leave, they’ll
hit them. We have to ask per-             meters away, is visible through                 destroy the house and the land
mission to enter the house. We            the window. The grandmother                     will belong to them forever,” he
have to ask permission to leave.          explains that they have lived                   says. “Where do I get my
Four family members must be               through shooting several times                  strength? From my childhood
inside the house at all times.            since the Intifada began.                       memories, my memories of this
When my son got permission to             The father turns to the MSF                     place. I won’t have my children
go to Gaza to look for food, he           psychologist whom he knows,                     ask me one day why I left.”
could only bring back two plas-           and says, “You know, it’s not our               While he is talking to us, the
tic bags’ worth and no more.              the material problems that                      MSF psychologist takes the chil-
We are prisoners with our child-          worry me, but our emotional                     dren and the mother elsewhere.
ren. This is no way to live.”             situation. The children fight, yell,            Watching them leave, the father
While we are talking, we hear             and are aggressive toward each                  says, “This was a paradise here.
the soldiers walking and spea-
king above us.                                 “The soldiers only let the children play
The mother, who seems sub-                    outside one at a time. They frighten them
dued, speaks up. “The soldiers
humiliate us,” she says. “They
                                                      and sometimes hit them.
throw their filth and their dirty               We have to ask permission if we want
water off the roof. A week ago,                     to enter or leave the house.”
while the children were playing
outside, a sandbag fell from the          other. The littlest one cries when              We’ve got to give our children a
roof. The children screamed and           he has to leave the house. He’s                 chance. We’ve lost too much
I thought they were hurt. But             afraid of soldiers. We don’t sleep              time. Israel must leave the
the soldiers wouldn’t let me go           very much. The confinement is                   Palestinian territories.”
out to see what happened.”                driving us mad.” His eyes are                   September 2001 – The Israeli
Continuing, she sighs. “It’s even         red and he is on the verge of                   army has ended its occupation
worse at night. The soldiers              tears. “Sometimes I’m violent,                  of this Palestinian family’s house.
bang on the walls. They make              too. Sometimes I want to throw                  The soldiers have left and set up
noise and sometimes they                  myself at the soldiers … I can’t                camp in a small, concrete, rapid-
shoot. Then the house shakes.             take any more.” The grandmo-                    ly built fort, about 50 meters
The children cry. It’s impossible         ther serves us orange juice. The                (55 yards) away. The residents
for us to sleep.”                         father says that no one has been                of the house are still exposed,
In spite of the circumstances,            able to reach the house. The                    subject to reprisals and humilia-
this family refuses to leave their        MSF medical team’s visit is the                 tion. Their movements outside
ancestors’ land, even if it means         first in four months. “It’s impor-              the house are still limited and
living with Israeli soldiers upstairs     tant that you’re here,” he says.                the Israeli soldiers can withdraw
and in the hallways. “The sol-            “We know you try to come and                    permission to move about at
diers have done everything to             that brings us some comfort.                    will. The MSF team continues to
make us leave but I’m still here,”        The children need you. And you                  visit the family.




                                                                                                                                53
                                        P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
This mother has just learned of the death of her 23-year-old son, a Hamas activist killed deliberately in Hebron by the Israeli army.

                         first son, died. He and his wife have never reco-                 was not able to speak to his family. That was the
                         vered from the loss and he doesn’t want to be                     hardest. He feels tense and anxious and loses
                         away from home any more.                                          patience with his children. That’s why he says he
                         That’s why he was working in the settlement                       is depressed. His expression and behavior reveal
                         near his home. He has friends there but they’ve                   what his words can’t articulate. He asks us to
                         told him it is too dangerous for him to go there                  come to the house to see his family and insists
                         now. They call to stay in touch but he cannot see                 that we have cookies and juice before leaving.
                         them anymore, which has affected him deeply. I                    His wife and children describe the anguish of
                         tell him how sorry I am. My own emotion relea-                    that night and the two horrible days that follow-
                         ses his and he starts to cry. He has set up a fala-               ed. The little girl tells us she is always afraid that
                         fel stand downstairs in his house. It’s not much of               the soldiers will arrest her father again.
                         a business and doesn’t provide enough income.                     I saw the 11 year-old boy who had brought me
                         Their savings are dwindling and they’ve had to                    coffee again. He had gone to work selling cof-
                         give up on the idea of building a house. That                     fee in the street to help his family. He had told
                         dream had made it bearable to stay in this tiny,                  that he wanted to return to school. Although
                         makeshift place which serves as their shelter,                    the last few weeks have been difficult and
                         except when it rains. In the months that follo-                   conditions have not improved at home, he has
                         wed, I rarely saw this father. He was going to                    returned.
                         Hebron in search of a job that would pay better                   I had spoken with his father for the first time in
                         than his miserable falafel business.                              April. The man had told me that he was his
                         Today, August 22, he tells me that he has collap-                 son’s age when he started working. He’d had
                         sed. In spite of the risks, he had wanted to return               to resign himself to a career as an auto mecha-
                         to Kiryat Arba but was arrested by Israeli soldiers.              nic even though he’d dreamed of working on
                         He and several other Palestinian workers were all                 airplanes. At that time, he told me that he
                         guilty of having wanted to work during the cur-                   could no longer go to Jerusalem to buy auto
                         few. He spent two days in jail and had to pay to                  parts and that it was becoming difficult to feed
                         get out. Their employer, a settler, was also jailed,              his family of two wives and nine children.
                         but just for one day. He was not mistreated but                   Nonetheless, this family did not want to rely

54
                                              P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
on charity and as the father said, he was                  T U E S D AY, A U G U S T 1 4
holding on to his patience and faith. He still
wanted to believe that peace would come one
day even if the Israelis didn’t seem to really
                                                           Anger at leaving

                                                          I
want it. He would continue to bow and scrape                   greet the father and mother of a family of
and, preferring to borrow money from his                       eight children who live across from the
mother, hoped to earn some small amounts                       Harcina settlement. They are moving to
from a small itinerant drink business. I was               Jerusalem and have come to say goodbye. Their
there in mid-April when they launched the                  home has been hit frequently by gunfire and
business. The entire family was helping out                attacked by tank incursions. The environment
and this mini-enterprise had animated them.                has had serious consequences for several family
I’d seen them here and there, at the corner of             members. Two of the young men were wound-
the market, on the street and at the drawing               ed within one year. The 14 year-old daughter
studio at the house.                                       suffers from acute stress and the 2 year-old’s lan-
Two days ago, I stopped at the house and found             guage development has stopped progressing. I
the father having coffee outside with his neigh-           treated them for two months and we were to
bor. His expression was downcast and he see-               have continued our work. But economic difficul-
med at loose ends. He grabbed me and took me               ties have pushed them to leave. Those are even
inside the house to see the damage. Windows,               more difficult to deal with than violence at their
walls (exterior as well as interior), closets and          door – and they haven’t been spared the latter,
clothes all pock-marked with holes. A fire had             either.
started and each hole was charred.                         The man describes his anger while his wife
With the children and adults, I followed the bul-          weeps silently. They have no choice. He hasn’t
lets’ path through the rooms. Crawling on                  worked for seven months, which translates into
hands and knees, they’d fled the parents’ room.            seven months of boredom at home as he beco-
My fingers catch on sharp bits of metal stuck in           mes impatient and depressed. It’s hard for him,
the walls. These are exploding bullets that relea-         too, but he doesn’t cry. His voice is strained. He
se dreadful mini-projectiles which kill and                is overwhelmed by mounting debts and humi-
wound. They escaped this time, even though a               liations which eat away at him. He can’t go on
piece of the weapon had landed in the room                 like this so has chosen to live in Jerusalem where
where they’d all crowded together to take                  he will be five minutes from work. His boss is
shelter. The children show me the little bits of           holding his job because he likes him. But to leave
metal they gathered inside the house. Still very           a house where he’s lived for 25 years; to leave a         July 13
shaken after this hellish night, they are agitated         life and his mother here. When he was a child, he
                                                                                                                     A new escalation
and excited. They fight among themselves. The              and his family had had to leave everything. He
littlest ones whine and cling to one of the                developed psychiatric problems then and has               of violence in
mother’s skirts. Tired and in shock, she is unable         been taking medication ever since.                        the territories.
to control them. The second wife can’t cope any
                                                                                                                     Since the
more and has gone to her family to rest. The
father is very anger, completely heartsick. He             E A R LY S E P T E M B E R                                ceasefire was
had supported peace and the two-state propo-                                                                         declared one
sal but no more. He says he’s ready for anything.
Last summer, he abandoned his business. With
                                                           It’s more than                                            month earlier, an

competition, he couldn’t make any money and                just four walls,                                          average of one

so decided to accept Red Cross help. The agen-
cy was supposed to bring food last week but no
                                                           it’s a battle                                             person a day has
                                                                                                                     died.



                                                           T
one has come yet. He hasn’t yet gone to the                        o leave your house and land – the essence         August 9
Social Services Ministry to apply for health insu-                 of your identity – after years of resistance is
                                                                                                                     Seventeen are
rance for families in which the father has been                    the equivalent of committing suicide. The
unemployed since the Intifada began. He feels              first time I visited this family at home in mid-          dead and 90
discouraged, powerless, aggressive and at the              April, the father showed me the results of the            wounded in East
end of his rope. These are the words he uses to            harassment from settlers who pass his house on
                                                                                                                     Jerusalem.
describe his depression. The family is imploding.          their way to synagogue every Saturday: solar
This is hard to take. How can I help them? The             panels broken, walls collapsed, kitchen windows           Islamic Jihad
children ask me to say a little longer. They want          shattered. Tirelessly and relentlessly, he repairs        claims
to draw with me. They want me to come back                 the damage although the situation has triggered           responsibility for
soon if I can’t stay today. The father will be there       long-standing stomach pains that seem to resist
                                                                                                                     this suicide
with them to talk a bit. Yes, he would like to             all treatment. Worn down, he tells me “the doc-
bear witness.                                              tors say it’s psychological.” His wife, who had just      attack.


                                                                                                                                        55
                                         P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
 Hebron, June 2001. The cordoning-off and curfews remain the most serious problems, worse even than the danger from shootings and bombings.

                   given birth to their third child, spoke of their                        on the house. He smiles, but can’t mask his fati-
                   fears and weariness. “He doesn’t sleep anymore.                         gue. His eyes are red from lack of sleep and his
                   I’m afraid to play with the children on the patio.                      nervousness shows in the anxiety that gnaws at
                   The 4 year-old is afraid to go to school. She                           his stomach.
                   always says her legs hurt. She’s afraid to go to                        In early September, he came back to the office to
                                   sleep because of nightmares.”                           ask for an appointment. The school year had
                                   In July, this father, who’d come to                     begun. To drive his daughter to school, he told
                                   the house for our consultation,                         us, he had to take a road around the checkpoint
      For the first time,          told us that he was finding it har-                     manned by soldiers who monitor the area sur-
                                   der and harder to stand by his                          rounding the nearby settlement. He was wound-
       Ranine’s father             decision to stay in the house                           ed in the foot as he jumped over a wall. With a
         describes his             whatever the cost. “It’s worse                          cynical smile, he said the situation was unlikely to
      childhood home,              and worse.” He told us about the                        continue because the director expected that the
      the get-togethers            night in September 2000, a                              school would close. That same day, settlers threw
                                   month before the Intifada, when                         rocks, striking his wife. The couple had begun to
     and the plants that the soldiers swept inside to take a                               fight. She couldn’t stand the nightly bombings
           were his                position on the roof from where                         and the harassment, which were sure to increa-
       grandmother’s               they had fired. The unforgettable                       se. She wanted to live with her parents.
                                   night of terror had deeply                              Finally, last night he took a mattress and blankets
        pride and joy.             marked the entire family. After                         and decided to sleep in a corner of his brother’s
                                   that, he began thinking about                           store in the non-occupied zone. But he couldn’t
                                   leaving. But it is his father’s house                   sleep out of worry about what might happen at
                   and he was born there. His indecision tormented                         their house. He developed an allergic reaction to
                   him. He knew he was having a difficult time, but                        a mosquito bite. He doesn’t want to return. That
                   it was even worse for his wife and children. He                         day, Ranine’s father describes his childhood
                   added safety measures around the house. He                              home to me as the child begins to play for the
                   accompanied his daughter every day as she                               first time today while listening to the conversa-
                   went to school. He would leave work to check                            tion. He tells me about his grandparents who

56
                                              P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
gave parties there and about the garden that                of Babzoaouia. She’s come to tell me that she left
was his grandmother’s pride and joy. He also                because it was no longer possible to live there.
speaks of the time when, seated at the doorway,             The last time we went to her house, we sensed
he physically resisted the soldiers’ entrance. His          the tension oppressing her family. The neighbors
resistance is passive and determined. This house            had all fled and they were the only ones living in
isn’t just four walls. It represents a battle. But if       the building. They remained at the mercy of sol-
things get worse, he’ll leave. The frank smile has          diers installed downstairs who still take up posi-
disappeared from his face.                                  tions on the roof after occupying it for several
                                                            months. Every time she opens the door she has
                                                            to reassure the family. During our visit, the child-
S AT U R D AY, S E P T E M B E R 8                          ren go back and forth to the to the window,
                                                            where they watch what’s going on downstairs.
Stopped at the                                              Today, a loud burst of gunfire and a fleeting red
                                                            glimmer of light outside the window made us
checkpoint                                                  jump. A child rushed to close the shutters. We
                                                            had to leave the occupied zone immediately, as


W
            e meet with the leader of a non-vio-            we’ve had to do often in the last five weeks.
            lent movement established in 1986.              This mother, alone with her children, just came         August 10
            As we discuss daily events from our             back from several days with her parents in              Incursion of Israeli
different perspectives – his of 15 years and                Jerusalem. They haven’t yet put their belongings
                                                                                                                    special forces into
mine of 8 months – I get a phone call. A                    away. Far away from this hell, they rested and
mother is in distress because she’s afraid she              appear to be much calmer than during our pre-           the offices of the
won’t be able to get back to her children. She              vious visit at the end of the school year. The          Palestinian
lives alone with her children at the border of              children are better, she said, but she already feels    Authority.
the occupied zone near the checkpoint. Even if              discouraged. It’s nerve-wracking to come back,
                                                                                                                    August 14
life hasn’t always been easy, the soldiers have             but all the other families have left the building. If
always allowed her to circulate. But today,                 she leaves, the settlers will move into her home.       The Israeli Army
contrary to past practice they will not permit              And then there’s the children’s school. It was          enters Jenin, a city
her to return home. She works in the                        August 27.
                                                                                                                    under Palestinian
Palestinian zone, where her children also go to             On September 10, she had to flee. For two
school. To avoid the soldiers and their sarcastic           weeks, the soldiers had practically prevented her       control.
comments, the children typically climb over                 from leaving at all. She hasn’t had any appetite        August 27
rooftops to get home. She is afraid they will               during that time. She feels like vomiting and           In Ramallah, Abu
return before she does and that she will not                fears for her children. She is staying with her sis-
                                                                                                                    Ali Moustafa,
able to get back. She is panicked and asks for              ter but feels she is a burden. She is looking for
help. The response? It’s IDF orders. Luckily, the           another house.                                          leader of the PFLP
children haven’t yet gotten back home and                                                                           (Popular Front for
they find each other. What a relief. But they                                                                       the Liberation of
cannot reach their house. They had to go to                 MID-SEPTEMBER
                                                                                                                    Palestine) is killed
her sister’s home in a village neighboring
Hebron. She’s still worried about the house.
Last night, the stores next to their home
                                                            New house, new                                          by two missiles.


burned. Their house was spared. The family                  hope
returned but the mother is afraid to leave and


                                                           F
wonders if she should quit her job. Two days                      or three weeks I’ve been visiting another
later, when we go to see her, soldiers stop us                    family near the Harcina settlement whose 5
for the first time during our consultation.                       year-old daughter who wakes up screaming
                                                            and is agitated and cranky all day. Her mother,
MID-SEPTEMBER                                               holding her youngest child, a month-old infant,
                                                            tells me the behavior began when the girl saw a
Under pressure                                              bulldozer tear down their house. The three older
                                                            children quarrel over the baby and try to kiss and
from soldiers                                               hold her. Their new house is on a hillside across
                                                            from a settlement. They’ve had offers to buy it


F
    or the first time since we began treating her           but they’ve turned them down. Now shots are
    daughter, this mother comes to see me at                being fired at the house.
    the office. I usually meet her at the house,            The land belongs to both families. The parents
whose front door adjoins the soldiers’ check-               and grandparents live nearby. This couple was
point guarding the entrance to the Jewish district          born and grew up here and built their first house

                                                                                                                                         57
                                          P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                      with their own children. The house is now only a                 was hit again. I had to close it. Patients used to
                      pile of rubble. I walk across it to reach them. The              tell me they could breathe calmly here. Now this
                      access road is blocked by a pile of dirt.                        peaceful haven is no more.
                      On the day the house was destroyed, the garden
                      – trees and crops – had just been torn out and
                      the mother was beaten by soldiers and taken to
                                                                                                  MSF psycho-medical
                      the hospital. She escaped and ran back to the                               team in Gaza
                      house, which she found demolished. Her hus-
                      band had been jailed and family members had
                      taken in the children. The 2 year-old wanted to                  M O N D AY, A U G U S T 1 3 , 2 0 0 1
                      die and burn her clothes. She remained upset for
                      a long time and was treated by a doctor for                      BEIT LAHIA
                      nutritional problems.
                      “When I was 7, my older daughter’s age, I also
                      saw my parents’ house destroyed,” the mother
                                                                                       An open-air
 August 29
                      says. “That was in 1967. I’ve been fighting ever
                      since. I rebuilt the house with my brothers. I’ve
                                                                                       prison

                                                                                       T
 Israel seizes        also done everything like the men. I smoke, too.                        oday we visited the zone called Seafa,
 several sectors of   A year ago, when our first house was demo-                              north of the Gaza strip, between the Dugit
                      lished, we lived in a tent with my husband, there,                      and Elie settlements. Since June, the resi-
 Beit Jala, which
                      on our land. And we built this one with the                      dents of this sector have been completely cut off
 have been under      children.”                                                       from the rest of the area.
 Palestinian          In Palestine, the whole family, from the youngest                Before the Intifada, 125 families, including more
 control since        to the oldest, builds a house together. The fami-                than 600 people, lived there. The land and houses
                      ly organizes and structures itself around the                    have been destroyed and many of the residents
 1995. The
                      house. “This new house is built on hope,” the                    have left. Life has become impossible since the zone
 international        father says.                                                     was surrounded. The Israeli army has created an
 community            But they talk about the conflicts every day. Given               enclave. We already tried to visit the area but the
                      the soldiers’ regular incursions, they are unlikely              army refused to let us enter for “security reasons.”
 condemns the
                      to forget them. The latest threat is that the hou-               The two square meter area is now surrounded by
 incursion.           se’s strategic location may result in the roof                   sand dunes built by bulldozers and it bristles with
 September 4          being turned into a military base. Many foreign                  barbed wire. A tower, metal detector and gate
 After 11 months      organizations are helping and a lawyer from the                  have been installed at the entrance to the zone.
                      Israeli group, Peace Now, is defending them.                     The Israeli army opens the checkpoint for an hour
 of the Al-Aqsa
                      The children see the ruins of their first house                  every day, but sometimes they don’t. It’s become
 Intifada, at least   every day. The older one remembers the good                      impossible for people working in the city to leave
 554 Palestinians     times there. They continue to water the plants                   home in the morning and get to work on time.
 and 157 Israelis     they planted, now near the rubble. Gathered                      Most people in that situation have had to leave so
                      around the newest child, their “ray of sunshine,”                that they can meet their commitments.
 have been killed.
                      the family continues to resist.                                  Most of the zone’s residents are farmers. The soil
 Twenty-four days                                                                      is good but it’s difficult to find fuel for the irriga-
 later, on                                                                             tion pumps and almost impossible for water tan-
 September 28,
                      OCTOBER                                                          kers to get in. Even if the fruits and vegetables are
                                                                                       harvested properly, they may sit at the checkpoint
 the Intifada’s
 anniversary, the
                      Gunshots in a                                                    for several days. Many people have abandoned
                                                                                       bringing in the crops. How can they pay workers
 statistics are 629
                      medical office                                                   if they can’t get their products out of the zone?
                                                                                       What’s true for fruits and vegetables is also true for
 Palestinian and


                      W
                                 hen I came back from my vacation in                   students. School will start again in a few days.
 169 Israeli                     early August, I found my visiting room                Most families have decided to send their children
 deaths.                         riddled with bullet holes. There were                 to relatives living outside the area.
                      fifteen holes in the window on the western side                  Yesterday the Palestinians finally rebuilt the road
                      from which I used enjoy the sunsets and the                      destroyed by the Israeli army. They used a bulldo-
                      soothing light. It’s difficult to leave this place. I            zer authorized to enter the zone.
                      had thought this burst of gunfire, coming from                   Access to health care is a serious problem. From
                      a house newly-occupied by the Israeli army, was                  time to time, a group of doctors from the Health
                      only an accident. It occurred at night and not                   Ministry makes the rounds in the zone, as we do.
                      during working hours. I had hoped to stay here                   In case of emergency, patients face huge obstacles
                      for a while longer. But two weeks ago, the office                to leave the zone for treatment.

58
                                          P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
W E D N E S D AY, A U G U S T 1 5 , 2 0 0 1                   that began almost a year ago. They can’t change
                                                              the situation. The only thing left to them is their
GAZA                                                          determination to stay here and
                                                              face the threat head-on. This is
The soldiers have                                             a supreme act of resistance,
                                                              which consists of living one’s            Having lost their
left!                                                         life with as much dignity as              possessions, the
                                                              possible.                                families fled a bit

W
             e were on our way to a house we know             As we return to the car, several
             well in the Murlaga region. Israeli sol-         youths are walking up the
                                                                                                       farther away, but
             diers have occupied it for months. As            street. They are visibly deter-           even there they
we headed out, we discovered that a rumor we’d                mined to take action against               are likely to be
heard the night before was true: the soldiers have            the Israeli station. From his win-        within the next
left the roof!                                                dow, a neighbor calls out to
The family is finally free of the soldiers’ presence          them, forbidding them to go
                                                                                                       area targeted for
and their daily, irritating restraints.                       further. The people on the                   destruction.
When we arrive, the family is waiting for us in front of      street know that these isolated
the house. The atmosphere has changed. Everyone               actions prompt the soldiers to
is there! For the first time in many long months, they        shoot toward their houses and their families.
can enjoy the open space in front of the house. They
rejoice in this change and welcome us.
A few days later, the grandmother of the family               S AT U R D AY, O C T O B E R 6
visits us in the Gaza office. She explains that
things are different now for the family. Yes, the             RAFAH
soldiers are no longer on the roof but the situa-
tion may be more dangerous. The Israeli station
represents a certain threat. Questions mount
                                                              Destruction on
within the family. “Will they shoot us when we
cross the road? “Now that they’ve built that
                                                              the frontier

                                                              T
tower, will they demolish the house?”                                  his is the first time I’ve gone back to visit
                                                                       Ibrahim and his family in the Salah’Edine
                                                                       district since the demolition of the night of
SEPTEMBER 11                                                  September 27. From the beginning, Ibrahim had
                                                              been prepared for confrontations and suspected
RAFAH                                                         that in the end, something would happen.
                                                              The tanks opened fire in the middle of the night
Rafah means                                                   and everyone fled. They sought refuge and
                                                              waited a few dozen meters away. “The explosion
resistance                                                    was awful,” Ibrahim says. The house next to his
                                                              has collapsed. The skeleton of his own house is


O
          ur visit to Rafah (in the Salah’Edine dis-          still standing. The downstairs walls are gone and
          trict) is part of our commitment to bear            only supporting beams seem to be left. The
          witness to these events. With two jour-             upstairs walls are cracked and entire sections
nalists, we visit Ibrahim and his family. The repor-          have fallen in. The doors of the house flew off
ters are interested in the psychological aspects of           and landed a few meters away.
the Palestinian people’s suffering.                           Unable to flee in time, one man was sent flying
The house is across the street from the Israeli sta-          into his neighbor’s house by the force of the
tion monitoring the frontier between Egypt and                explosion. The neighbor was the first to find his
Palestine. Like everyone who ventures to the end              body and the sight was traumatizing. The body
of Salah’Edine street, my companions today are                was unrecognizable and only the man’s clothing
worried as they come face to face with the                    made it possible to identify him with certainty.
immensity of the chaos and sea of ruins. As we sit            The families have fled this place to take shelter
drinking coffee, they ask, “Why do you stay                   further away on the same street. They may be fur-
here?” His answer is clear. “I don’t know where               ther from the Israeli position, but they are closer
else to go. I don’t have another house.” Firing               to the frontier and are sure to be within the zone
begins while we are visiting the house.                       where the next round of destruction occurs.
We also visit Mohammed, whom we call “the                     Families want to leave this desolate place and
English professor” out of respect for his teaching            move away from the noise of shooting and
career. The discussion always turns to the events             movement of tanks.

                                                                                                                             59
                                            P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                                                             Salah‘edine Street
                                                             in Jerusalem:
                                                             war destroys more
                                                             than bodies. It also kills
                                                             hope, career plans, and
                                                             dreams of marriage.




60
     P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
MSF PRESS RELEASES
PARIS, December 15, 2001 – MSF                                                          extremely violent. Physical and psychological pro-
doctors and psychologists in the field                                                  blems already manifested in patients over the last
are seeing an increasing number of              With                                    14 months have increased. These problems inclu-
Palestinian families who have been                                                      de chronic or pre-existing conditions intensified by
exposed to violence and are lacking             palestinian                             stress, acute depression, anger, anxiety, and sleep
access to regular medical care. Isolation       civilians                               and eating difficulties. Continued violence and the
and daily violence provoke depressive                                                   climate of terror provoke intense stress and panic.
syndromes and post-traumatic shock              trapped, MSF                            This leads to a build-up of trauma and endless
among both adults and children.                 continues its                           cycles of therapy.
The daily reality of civilians confronted                                               Terror comes at night to the houses bordering
by violence is very troubling. Obstacles
                                                missions                                Jewish settlements or along roads used exclusively
to medical care are increasing. Because                                                 by settlers. Under security pretexts, entire neigh-
of travel limitations imposed by the                                                    borhoods are riddled with gunfire and then syste-
Israeli army for security reasons, some families are                                    matically bulldozed. Families who refuse to leave
unable to reach Palestinian medical facilities or                                       find themselves hemmed in. Their movements are
gain access to doctors. Palestinian health care pro-                                    limited and they are cut off from social networks.
viders also face serious obstacles in reaching medi-                                    Every day they worry their turn will come.
cal facilities, and ambulances are not allowed to                                       MSF is troubled by the continued decline in living
circulate freely. Recent Israeli army military opera-                                   conditions of Palestinian families in the West Bank
tions in the “A” Zones (areas that are supposed to                                      and Gaza Strip areas most exposed to violence. As
be under the exclusive control of the Palestinian                                       the conflict continues, recurs, and intensifies, this
Authority) in Ramallah, Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarem,                                        worsening of conditions contributes to families’
Qalquilya, Hebron, and Bethlehem have been                                              insecurity and despair.




JERUSALEM, January 10, 2002 – Following the                                              to sound familiar. Several tanks appea-
Israeli army’s latest incursion in Rafah, in the sou-                                    red suddenly and began firing.
thern Gaza Strip, MSF’s emergency mental health                     MSF comes            Panicked residents fled without being
intervention team went to Yebna’s “Block O” area.                                        able to grab anything. Then army bull-
The breadth of the day’s destruction was glaring.
                                                                      to victims’        dozers began to knock down the buil-
Some 40 houses were destroyed and more than                            aid when          dings. There is no question of trying to
200 people are now homeless. Men, women,                                                 recover mementos, papers, or clothing
children, and elderly people are preparing to set
                                                                      40 houses          from the debris. “If you’re not gone by
up tents, distributed by the ICRC, next to those of               are destroyed          the count of three, I’m firing,” says a
their former neighbors whose homes were torn                            in Yebna         voice over a loudspeaker from the near-
down two months earlier. Drained of energy and                                           by watchtower.
resources, the Palestinian Authority has not been                                        MSF condemns the mass destruction of
able to find housing for these families, who have                                        civilian homes during winter. We have
lost everything in the space of a few hours. With                             been working in Gaza since the beginning of the
the onset of winter’s cold and rain, the situation is                         Al Aqsa Intifada and are concerned about both
even more troubling.                                                          the medical and psychological consequences for
Nothing remains of the destroyed houses. Only a                               the affected families, who are at risk for post-
few traces of daily life, interrupted and broken off                          traumatic stress, depression, and phobic disor-
suddenly, are visible: a shoe here, a sweater there,                          ders. MSF’s joint mental health/medical team has
a casserole, and a toy. As we learn about the tra-                            intervened to help these 200 newly homeless peo-
gedy, the scenario – although terrifying – begins                             ple overcome the catastrophe.




                                         P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
                                                                                                                                          61
JERUSALEM, March 11, 2002 – Beginning in                                                     tims were the head of emergency servi-
November 2000, MSF launched two medical and                                                  ces for Jenin, a UN nurse in Tulkarem, an
mental health programs in the Autonomous                                        MSF          ambulance driver, a first aid provider,
Palestinian Territories of the West Bank. These pro-                                         and a medical worker in Gaza. Several
grams are intended to benefit residents of regions                      condemns             ambulances were crushed, flattened,
most exposed to violence, including people living                    israeli attacks         and shot at during the attacks. During
near confrontation sites, army installations, and                                            the past 17 months, the Israeli army
Israeli settlements. Since early March 2002, we
                                                                        on medical           killed 15 members of the medical corps
have witnessed an unprecedented escalation of                               services         and wounded many others. The Al-
violence. The last few days have been the deadliest                                          Mezzan hospital in Hebron has been
in 14 years. Israeli Defense Force attacks against                                           shelled repeatedly, damaging the
the Autonomous Palestinian Territories are conti-                                            pathology department and the patient
nuing and widening.                                                               cafeteria. These attacks are very alarming and are
During the first week of March, close to 100                                      in obvious violation of international law.
Palestinians civilians and children were killed                                   The Geneva Convention and international huma-
during air strikes and tank invasions in refugee                                  nitarian law expressly protect medical services and
camps near Jenin, Nablus, Bethlehem, and Gaza.                                    the wounded during conflict. Belligerents are
The city of Hebron, where MSF’s medical team                                      required to provide care for the wounded and
lives and works, was also subjected to heavy firing                               ensure safe access to medical staff. MSF condemns
from machine guns and tanks. Emergency respon-                                    these attacks and calls on Israeli authorities to take
se services and health care providers have been                                   immediate measures to protect medical staff, gua-
attacked, preventing them from providing emer-                                    ranteeing them access to the wounded as well as
gency care to the wounded. The most recent vic-                                   to the most needy.




JERUSALEM, April 4, 2002 –                                                               was stopped again by two men in plain clothes
Blocking of medical care to                                                              carrying automatic weapons. The men, who wore
Palestinian civilians in the Occupied        MSF protests                                no distinguishing signs, were clearly security
Territories has reached alarming                                                         guards from the neighboring settlement. While
levels. At a time when ordinary              controls                                    verifying the team’s identification, they confis-
Palestinians are subjected to intense        by armed                                    cated the keys to the car. The team was thus
military pressure, MSF’s ability reach                                                   delayed for more than half an hour without any
the most isolated families is being          militias                                    explanation.
severely restricted. Even in Hebron                                                      This last incident illustrates the continuing obsta-
and the Gaza Strip, where MSF has                                                        cles faced by MSF teams in carrying out their work
been working and where the army is not concen-                                           and seeking to exercise their right of free access to
trating its attacks, access to medical care is under                                     civilians. These obstacles also contradict the Israeli
serious threat.                                                                          army’s guarantees that MSF teams working in the
A particularly disturbing incident occurred on the                                       Occupied Territories are free to move around. In
morning of April 2. An MSF team composed of a                                            the past, we have requested and received the right
doctor, translator, and driver went to Um Amer, a                                        to move freely to conduct our medical work. As
village in the Hebron district, to conduct medical                                       the situation deteriorates, we can no longer rely
consultations with Palestinian families living in                                        on these commitments. Even when we receive
remote areas. MSF’s car was clearly identified with                                      authorization, we are increasingly denied the right
bumper stickers bearing the MSF logo and a flag.                                         of passage.
Each member of the team wore an MSF jacket.                                              MSF considers these restrictions a violation of our
Along the way, the team reached two military                                             right to access victims of this conflict, as well as a
checkpoints and, after showing MSF identity                                              violation of civilians’ right to access medical facili-
cards, was authorized to continue. At the third                                          ties. MSF is very concerned about the Israeli army’s
checkpoint, three Israeli soldiers jumped out from                                       apparent indifference to this situation. This indiffe-
behind trees and, pointing their weapons at the                                          rence encompasses both Israeli soldiers’ attitudes
car, forced it to stop. The team was authorized to                                       at checkpoints and the fact that the Israeli army
pass only after clearly explaining the medical natu-                                     authorizes independent militias and armies to
re of its mission. As the car neared the village, it                                     interfere, at will, with our work.

62                                         P a l e s t i n i a n C h r o n i c l e s – JULY 2002
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                                                                                 International
Læger Uden Grænser                    Rådhusgaten 30 A, O151 Oslo
                                                                                 Rue de la Tourelle 39, 1040 Brussels
Bernstorffsvej 20, 2900 Hellerup      Tel. : + 47 23 31 66 00
                                                                                 Belgium
Tel. : + 45 (39) 62 63 01             Telec. : + 47 22 33 45 51
                                                                                 Tel. : + 32 (2) 280 1881
Telec. : + 45 (39) 62 61 04           www.leger-uten-grenser.no
                                                                                 Telec. : + 32 (2) 280 0173
www.msf.dk                                                                       www.msf.org
                                      Spain
France                                Médicos Sin Fronteras                      UN Liaison Office – Geneva
Médecins Sans Frontières              Nou de la Rambla, 26                       12, rue du Lac, Case postale 6090
8, rue Saint-Sabin                    08001 Barcelona                            1211 Geneva 6, Switzerland
75544 Paris Cedex 11                  Tel. : + 34 (93)3 046 100                  Tel. : + 41 (22) 849 84 00
Tel. : + 33 (1) 40 21 29 29           Telec. : + 34 (93)3 046 102                Telec. : + 41 (22) 849 84 04
Telec. : + 33 (1) 48 06 68 68         www.msf.es
www.paris.msf.org                                                                UN Liaison Office –
                                      Sweden                                     New York
Germany                               Läkare Utan Gränser                        6 East 39th Street, 8th Floor
Ärzte Ohne Grenzen                    Högbergsgatan 59B, Box 4262                New York, NY 10016
Am Köllnischen Park 1, 10179 Berlin   10266 Stockholm                            Etats-Unis
Tel. : + 49 (30) 22 33 77 00          Tel. : + 46 (8) 55 60 98 00                Tel. : + 1 (212) 655 3777
Telec. : + 49 (30) 22 33 77 88        Telec. : + 46 (8) 55 60 98 01              or + 1 (212) 679 6800
www.aerzte-ohne-grenzen.de            www.stockholm.msf.org                      Telec. : + 1 (212) 679 7016

				
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