Sunday, June 8, 2008

Prisoners of Marda

Palestine Monitor
8 June 2008

The fence that surrounds Marda.

""Prisoners," says Khaled as we drive through the mountains on our way back to Qarawa. "They are prisoners in their own village."

Khaled is a director for the Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS) in Salfit. He has been kind enough to take me in to his home while I help with the mobile clinics that operate in the area. On this occasion he is asking me about what I saw earlier in the day.

That particular day the mobile clinic went to the small village of Marda in the Salfit district. It was my first day of travel in Palestine and I had no idea what to expect. Before I came to Palestine I had read articles about the crimes perpetrated against Palestinians but my opinion was tempered by the spin of the pro-Israel American media. I was dumbfounded by what I saw and the stories I heard......

Marda itself is a "gated community," a kind of which I had never seen before. The village is surrounded by a fence with only one entrance and exit. At Israeli soldiers’ discretion, they can close the gate every night at 8pm and open it every morning at 8 am. The fence divides farmers from their fields and keeps medical emergencies that happen at night waiting till morning. Rame tells me that the village has been subject to curfews in the past. When a curfew is in place, all violators are arrested no matter what age. Also, Rame informs me that several young boys from the village had been arrested for nothing more than throwing rocks at Israeli military vehicles. He said that one of the boys had been tortured to the point that he admitted to accusations he was not guilty of. Another boy was detained for 3 years.......

Physical roadblock and gate outside the village of Jam’een. This gate is similar to the one that restricts traffic into Marda. Also, this gate serves to separate the two villages that were once neighbors.

Back at the office in Salfit I met up with Khaled. As we drove back to his house we discussed matters further. He described the villagers of Marda as prisoners in their own home and said that what Israel is doing is Apartheid. As we continued on our way I saw more settlements and the segregated, Israeli-only highways that cause Palestinians to have to divert around for kilometers.

As I reviewed the events of the day in my head, I realized I was not prepared to see what I had seen. Because of the pro-Israeli media I had falsely assumed that the stories I had heard were few and far between. I would have never guessed that I would experience everything I had read about in less than 8 hours on my first day in Palestine."

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