I spent my first night back in Palestine in Jerusalem’s old city. The “tension” some Israeli relative and friends of mine have described to me seemed to be far away from the bustle of the old city, with tourism seeming to be in full bloom and shop and restaurant life seeming to go on as usual. Shopkeepers I spoke to told me that the number of Israeli soldiers seemed to be decreasing.
Yet, on October 26th, just two days before, Palestinian women of East Jerusalem put out a call to the international community to help protect them from “serious violations of Palestinian human rights, including physical attacks and injuries, severe psychological threats, and persecution by the Israeli settler-colonial state and settler entities violence, intimidation” (link to article). The same day, Since the beginning o October, Israel has erected 38 new barriers and 17 new checkpoints in East Jerusalem Palestinian neighborhoods, disrupting the daily lives of at least 138,000 Palestinians link to article. Israel seems to believe that force and further repression is the solution to unrest from continuing occupation and human rights abuses. However, we as advocates for human rights and equality for all people know that the occupation is the root cause of the violence and that further oppression will only bring more unrest in the present and the future link to article.
Along with increasing numbers of checkpoints and barriers in East Jerusalem, since October 1, Israel has arrested over 1000 Palestinians, most of them young people (link to article). The 600 resident West Bank village of Nabi Selah, where I am staying with the Tamimi family, has seen the arrest of 14 young people since October 1 (see image below of Tamimis’ currently being held prisoner. These arrests have been in retaliation for the village’s ongoing resistance to the Israeli occupation through weekly nonviolent demonstrations. The village of Nabi Saleh has much to resist as the occupation impacts every of their daily lives. Coming into the village, we passed through a gate that the Israeli military has at the entrance to their village. The gate is often closed, preventing the villagers from entering or exiting their village. On a plate on the coffee table in the Tamimi’s living room are empty tear gas canisters and rubber bullets that they have collected from their front yard. Yesterday, on the date of my arrival in Nabi Selah, the Tamimi’s had spent the day attending military court hearings for those recently arrested, including their 18-year-old son, Waed. Waed was arrested in a raid on the village a few weeks prior to my arrival. The Tamimis, along with a couple Palestinian activists with Israeli citizenship, spent the evening pouring through court papers in hebrew, looking for a way to help their loved ones avoid spending years in notorious Israeli prisons. Israeli military courts has an almost 99.8% conviction rate. Pro bono legal support organizations are swamped with cases, so volunteers with various day jobs become, at night, the equivalent of legal aids. I asked my hosts how we, as Americans in solidarity, can help with the Tamimi’s court cases. They replied that legal defenses are enormously expensive and funds are needed.
Despite all of the work and hardship of having a family member in jail, Nariman Tamimi served a delicious dinner that included fresh avocados, hummus, ful, home cured olives, and more. Nariman told me that arab custom dictates that for the first three days of my stay, I am a guest, and as such, may not help with the housework. After that, I may help with the dishes.