Sunday, August 21, 2005

Witness to History

Friday August 19th 2005

The streets of Nev Deqaulim are deserted this morning; the occasional Israeli Military vehicle cruises past. No teenagers in orange shirts are milling about chanting Judaism slogans and swearing racist statements, Long columns of Israeli Police and Army soldiers are no where to be seen. Nev Dequalim has been disengaged.

In years to come history books will record the events of the past few days here, I have been lucky enough to say that I watched it unfold. I filmed settlers setting their houses on fire rather than walk away, weeping families walking slowly onto buses never to return to their house, recorded demonstrators hurling the abusive racist chants at young soldiers. Filmed Jew fighting Jew and seen one of the most amazing sights I have ever witnessed, the Israeli Army storming and taking a synagogue full of Jews who had desecrated their own house of religion.

The days and nights of this week have been a blur, at one stage we worked 37 hours straight. It is easy to type but it drains the life out of you, the only thing that sustains you is adrenaline on assignments of this magnitude. You have to remember that it will end, like all news events they end, but the events of the last few days and weeks to come have changed this nation and what is next is anyone’s guess.

There are so many images of the past few days that I need to write and record over the next few days, some may make this blog others will be kept for my girls to read later.

The one story that somehow sticks in my mind happened the day before or the day before, the standoff at the synagogue had just started to gather around 1500 infiltrators had taken sanctuary inside but were free to move around come and go, they were not prisoners and the forces tolerated them. Towards the evening almost everyone is out of water from troops to media to demonstrators, you simply cannot carry enough to avoid dehydration.

A refrigerated truck turned up, organised by the Israeli Army. They open the back and handed out water to everyone around, we collected two cases and standing back watched troops and police hand out water to a group of teen girls demonstrators who accepted the water with thanks. These were in effect the enemy of the troops and police but they were fellow countrymen and Jews just themselves.

One minute later the same group of girls rushed the truck and tried to use knives and ice picks to slash the tyres of the truck, a sergeant managed to grab the girl with the knife and save the truck tyre from being slashed, she stood back glared and abused him, he was old enough to be her father and the venom she had in her tongue was obscene, but she had taken the water before.

The young kids have over this week discovered the art of petty vandalism, and prowled the streets looking for media cars so that they could slash the tyres, as fast as they could be repaired they were slashed to drive through the settlement here at times we would walk the car with four of us walking next to each wheel to stop them from rushing out and slamming an ice pick into the tyre. The strange thing is that it was not as if it was a state of Anarchy existed, police and troops were everywhere.

Why enforce law and order when the town will be rubble in the next few days. The house we rented is to be demolished in the coming days, like the rest of the settlement before being handed back to the Palestinians. The Israelis are not knocking down the homes to spite the Palestinians, it is just that the houses here occupy too much land and are not part of the plans for a future Palestinian State; both sides agreed that demolition is the best option.

It has been a week that changes this country, what the future holds is anyone’s guess.

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