The residents of Ramallah have been living under intense pressure since the tanks and jeeps began rolling in their neighborhoods. The military invasion has been terrorizing everyone especially in the El Teereh area where the Evangelical School operates down the road from the Greek Orthodox School and the Mustaqbal (Future) School, all terribly affected by over fifteen tanks just on one main road. Many children were absent from these schools because their parents don’t want them walking in front of tanks to enter school.
The residents of Ramallah have been living under intense pressure since the tanks and jeeps began rolling in their neighborhoods. The military invasion has been terrorizing everyone especially in the El Teereh area where the Evangelical School operates down the road from the Greek Orthodox School and the Mustaqbal (Future) School, all terribly affected by over fifteen tanks just on one main road. Many children were absent from these schools because their parents don’t want them walking in front of tanks to enter school. At other schools everyday children can only talk about “tonight they will totally reoccupy all Ramallah.” The fear and terror stop them from concentrating on lessons. At work all week most adults are predicting maybe the Israelis will totally get rid of the Palestinian Authority. We just can’t figure out why these tanks and jeeps continue to patrol the area and provoke Palestinian gunmen to shoot at them causing severe damage to many houses.
Working about two blocks away from this conflict I spent the majority of the week listening to shooting all day long and watching funeral marches go by my window. I must admit it was hard to work, to think, to write, to be productive. I just had an awkward sick feeling in my stomach and I kept thinking the whole time how children are learning their math, English or sciences. All schools in Ramallah decided to shorten the school day so children can be off the streets and in their homes where it might be safer. But if your home is in front of the tanks how safe can it be? Ms. Maha from the Al Ahliyyah School, a very dedicated and committed English teacher, could not even get inside her house on Wednesday because of the heavy shooting that broke out on her street. She walked in my office frantically saying “they are shooting right now…it’s terrible…I can’t go home.”
Night after Night, Maha, her husband and three children have been terrorized along with thousands of people who woke up last Friday morning to find tanks and jeeps in their neighborhoods. After spending one night stuck inside her home because of the intense shooting right outside her front door, she took her family to her mother’s house. Severe shooting especially occurred between 8 p.m. until 3 a.m. on Saturday night where the water tanks and the water pipes were damaged in her home but no one could dare to go outside and turn off the running water. The family could not eat, could not sleep, could not move from fear and terror and just kept waiting hour after hour for the shooting to stop. “We were afraid to take off our clothes…we stayed behind the corridor the whole night…It was terrible being in the dark and just listening to the shooting…the water running from the broken pipes and being able to do nothing…there are no other words to describe it except terrifying…just a terror night…we did not want to leave our home…we left because we were terrified…the fear in our children’s faces made us leave.” said Ms. Maha. Her children were so terrified they kept vomiting and going to the bathroom all night from the anxiety and the fear. Christina who is six years old knew less of what was going on but Mary who is fourteen probably felt the danger more.
The family left their home to go only a few blocks away but walked through hundreds of bullets on the ground and saw countless bullet holes on the house walls. When they reached the grandmother’s house, Khalil who is twelve years old finally said to his mother: “I feel safe now… I am hungry.” Maha mentioned to me when she saw her neighbor coming home they could not open their car door and properly walk out to enter their home, instead they opened the car door, threw themselves on the ground to crawl to reach the front door of their home. The other neighbor opened the front door to let her husband inside the house and the bullet bounced off the wall wounding this helpless neighbor in her stomach. Maha repeated: “It was a night of terror…the soldiers went crazy…they had hysteria to just keep shooting….”
After spending two night out of their house, Maha wanted to take the children back to their own beds, back to take baths, get clean clothes, stop sleeping on couches. “There is nothing like the feeling of your own home and with all this shooting happening this simple wish is impossible…there is nothing we can do…my husband wants to act courageous and save his family but he is helpless…he wants to protect us but you can see from his face…he is terrified.” Even excellent teachers like Maha go to work the next day exhausted, so tiered and having a difficult time concentrating on teaching. They are grateful just to be alive.
Night after night as Palestinians continue to bear the shooting and bombing in their areas, as they continue to bear their homes being demolished by Israelis, as they continue to bear their family members assassinated in cold blood, as they continue to suffer from the blockade and the siege on all Palestinian cities and towns, as they continue to beg soldiers to let them pass checkpoints for hospitals and medical care, as they continue to bear curfews and house arrests, as they continue to bear their homes turned into military camps, as they continue to bear the collapsed economy in order to stay in their land, as they continue to bear countless years of poor conditions, no one seems to be telling Ariel Sharon to stop the occupation.
The Americans continue to tell Arafat he should not harbor the terrorists. Doesn’t anyone realize that these totally inhumane conditions in the Holy Land are making all of us terrorists! But, revenge is not the answer. We need to seek forgiveness at some point and not respond by violent resistance. Even when soldiers’ point guns at me, I try to remember that non-violence is the answer while my blood is boiling and anger overpowers me. The cycle of violence and the killings back and forth have taken us to a blood bath. The American senators and representatives must know that not only Israel needs security but also more than three million Palestinians need their human rights. The Palestinian Catastrophe of 1948 needs to be addressed. We need to diplomatically negotiate how to exist in this Holy Land because it is so precious to Christians, Muslims and Jews. The only thing that saves me is the prayers of others and Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient, love is kind…it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” With Christ’s love, please hear the pain and suffering from the Holy Land as we bear witness for Christ here and help maintain our Christian presence by educating your government officials.