For the second week in a row now, we are still trying to live our lives under the renewed brutal reoccupation and strictly imposed curfew by the Israeli military. For the past three days, curfew has not been lifted; our high school students (‘Tawjihi’ students, taking their finals) have still two more exams to sit but have been unable to. Does Israeli give a damn for the future of our students? Of course not. They don’t give a damn about any future for Palestinians.Today is the same as yesterday.
The choice to make plans for tomorrow has been taken away from us; our whole life is dependent on Israel more than ever. To plan a wedding, for example, or a baptism is the most difficult and depressing task due to continued closure imposed by the Israeli troops. The great joy we once felt when celebrating a wedding is lost in the continued illegal occupation and imposed curfew by Israel. The bride and groom, with much patience and hope, watch the local television news to hear if the curfew will be lifted or not, so they can get ready to get married. It does not matter any more if it is Sunday, it only matters that curfew is lifted, so that they can get married. For those of you who know much about our culture you can tell the stark difference in our wedding celebration now compared to before. The bride and groom wait in their homes, in their wedding clothes, hoping and praying that today may be their ‘lucky’ day. The minute the curfew is lifted, it is announced on TV, and the celebrations are held within the few hours of curfew lift. There is no dancing, no feast and no happiness. Most guests cannot attend unless they live in close proximity to the church. There is no happiness in seeing two young people start their lives together in this way.
On Sunday 7th July, citizens of Beit Sahour went to church during the curfew lift. Following the traditional Sunday mass their were three other masses said for the memory of three people who had died. Immediately after the funeral masses were over another family came in and started to decorate the church for a wedding to be held at 11am. I was there at the church for my uncle’s mass and was shocked to the way our lives have changed. I looked at the groom’s face waiting outside the church, waiting for his bride to come and be married, to have lunch and then go home to be a prisoner again. But this time the groom and his bride will be imprisoned together in one room. Weddings are planned for Monday, Tuesday or any day now. It no longer matters whether the wedding is held on Sunday anymore, what matters is to take what little joy one can on the day the curfew is lifted. Yesterday, 6 weddings were planned in Beit Jala; all are postponed to a yet unknown day because the DCO’s office has refused to lift the curfew. I believe Israel enjoys controlling our lives in such a manner and transferring our lives into the most miserable of existences.
An international friend from Ireland, who is visiting the area for two weeks with her husband, was amazed to the strength people in Beit Sahour show, despite all the oppression they face. She sat in my kitchen crying her eyes out; I asked her what is the matter? She replied, tears in her eyes,” I can’t believe how can you adapt to each new life. I can’t believe how can you still smile. When do you grieve the harsh circumstances you are living under?” I honestly said, we can’t show the frustration that is killing us, we must continue to be strong, at least in front of our children. We must always make them believe that tomorrow the sun will rise and peace and justice will prevail. I also told her that we do cry and grieve but deep inside out hearts. I told her, despite the difficulties we are facing; other Palestinian cities are suffering from the Israeli brutality far more than us. And so this is out life now, with no prospect of change for the better. We will endure the hardship, we will remain prisoners and we will never forget what Israel is doing to the people of Palestine.