Marie Campbell is a retired University of Victoria professor who left on December 12, 2002 to spend a month in Palestine doing observational work with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). Observers from Europe and North America act not only as witnesses, but also provide a measure of protection and emotional support to Palestinians.
Qalqilya – Monday, December 23, 2002
Qalqilya, Apartheid Wall, new assignments
I have been assigned to Qalqilya; it is on the Green line just west of Nablus. Getting stuff out is really a big, big problem. Time is a problem; the curfew is a bigger problem. Now I am out in the field and there is much to be done and bigger problem – the computers. I have some good pictures of the training to send, but alas, in this town the Internet cafe computers have no ISPs.
We travelled here through Israel, and I had to bury my notes in my bag so that I wouldn’t give away my identity as an activist, if searched at a checkpoint. I have so much to say and so little time to say it. For instance, we were turned back at the local checkpoint in Qalqilya after our drive from Bethlehem today. We (seven activists) followed a group of Palestinians (Red Crescent workers and local farmers who had also been turned back) through the fields and orange orchards and mud, to circumvent (bypass) the soldiers who had turned us back. High drama. I felt I was in a movie.
There will be a big Women in Black demonstration in Tel Aviv on Friday and we are hoping to go to that. Distances are short, especially in Israel, where one can drive on good roads and no roadblocks or checkpoints. I’ll try to get to an Internet cafe there and send some pictures.
Till then, I’m to accompany farmers who are being bullied and threatened (including being beat up and shot) by “settlers” who surround the agricultural lands. This is a fertile area and settlement is heavy. Also, I’ll be accompanying ambulances, as soldiers hold them up at checkpoints. That is night work and therefore very tiring.
The farmers and villagers are planning a demonstration on Sunday to protest the building of the Security Fence, called by locals “the Wall” and by activists the “Apartheid Wall”. The Wall is proceeding through this area and a lot of land is being confiscated, not just for the Wall itself, but also for security areas and roads on either side. We expect a strong and angry response by the army. They use tear gas and percussion bombs on demonstrators and detain people. I’m not looking forward to this, as we will be walking at the front, I hear.
I’m living in an apartment with my action group here. Since houses are not being bulldozed down here as they are in Gaza and Nablus, we have not been placed with a family.
Merry Christmas to all of you.