December 26, 2002
Marie Campbell, Victoria woman volunteering in Palestine as a human rights observer, had her first encounter with the Israeli army today (Dec. 26). This morning, Israeli soldiers entered the town of Qalqilya, just west of Nablus, searching for a terrorist. They were searching an apartment building and a group of schoolboys were throwing stones and teasing the soldiers.
Marie and seven other international observers talked to the soldiers and pleaded with them not to shoot at the children. Rubber bullets were being fired into the group as Marie spoke on her cell phone to Victoria Peace Coalition member, Susan Clarke, at 1:30 am. An ambulance came to pick up the wounded. Some of the observers placed themselves between the soldiers and the children. “We have no control over the children”, said Marie. “They think it’s a game.”
“The town is under curfew, but in Qalqilya, the residents routinely defy the curfew and take their children to school”, said Marie. The army often goes into the school and tear gases the children to get them to leave and go home, so internationals stand in the doorways of the schools to deter the soldiers.
“Today, the boys are not in school because it’s the end of term”, said Marie. “Otherwise they wouldn’t be in this trouble. This is a very dangerous situation.”