Rita (via Avi) — Journalisms — Last night in Ramallah

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Journalisms — Rita (via Avi) — Last Night in Ramallah
“Journalisms:” or “Our Correspondent:” or “?”
The title and mission of this collective project
is a work in progress. But the general idea is
that we cannot be in all places at all times.
So those who would like to can write a “report”
or “editorial” or “correspondence” to share
experiences for the benefit of others.
To take part, send submission or for more information
please write to journalisms@16beavergroup.org
or post online:
ed. note: Occasionaly we receive correspondences forwarded through friends of our’s. This in from Ramallah. All of the context: e-mail, dates, subject line have been preserved.
From: Rita [mailto:rita@birzeit.edu]
Sent: Wed, October 22, 2003 12:06 PM
To: Rita
Subject: Last night in Ramallah
What can I tell you about last night in Ramallah, it was just so strange: the workers were still fixing our central heating units when I received a warning call from my sister in law about curfew and invasion downtown. The workers rushed home promptly, leaving me without hot water the next day, or any other day as long as this lasts. But then, I am lucky my mother is downstairs and we can always solve this problem by using her hot water. In fact, one feels ashamed to discuss hot water availability when others are facing extreme conditions. I immediately put on the television to see what is happening as I searched for my sister to warn her: A sudden clamp down, invasion and curfew declaration, leaving no chance for people to get home, at around 6, shooting, bombs, not less than 40 tanks and armored vehicles entering ramallah and raising havoc, and Jazeera television blasting the news and the awful scenes: a woman pleading to get home, a man being shoved by the soldier for being caught in the melee, young people throwing stones, sound and tear gas bombs, one dead and about 30 injured, some seriously.. these are ordinary people that happened to be caught in this mess. The army occupied several buildings , including the Jazeera one and all staff were stuck there until further notice.
Of course our neighborhood was quiet, as those attacks are focused on specific areas these days, unlike last year, but we could hear everything, the echo coming in our direction through the Wadi. I have tragi comic pictures in my mind… confusion in the midst of chaos: for over an hour trying to locate my sister, with the mobile phone system going haywire and not being able to find her, and finally her arriving to the safety of our house. She ended up staying overnight as she could not get to her house, worrying about the army going in there and destroying things, as she lives near the Muqata’a, where Abu Ammar resides. My mother, 82 years old, did not know we could not find our sister, so she was happily watching Jazeera as if it were an exciting film, not her reality .. she now has this ability to block things out , as last year, she would almost collapse every time something like this happens. This blocking mechanism turns out to be very useful not only for her, but for us as well, as we can attend to other things. The frantic neighbor ringing our bell during curfew, having taken the risk to seek Mustafa and the UPMRC ambulances to get her son and others out of a building located in the midst of the shooting , she cried and made me cry. Mustafa was not there, and the ambulance tried to get to the building several times to get people out but was shot at. Me finally being able to catch the son on the phone, an engineering student at BZU, and he feeling indignant about his mother’s behavior and telling me that there were 50 people stuck up there and that he was like everyone else! What a shower that was. Then trying to find out what happened to our tuesday night choir practice, and finding out that the conductor, who has MS and walks with the help of a walker and her sister, along with the piano player and our organizer, Gabi Baramki, had not managed to hear the news and headed towards the practice hall, only to be met by pointed guns and jeeps all over… they managed to get back, to the edge of town, where they live, only to find hysterical people at one of the shopping centers ( Plaza) completing their last provisions exercise before the curfew got to them… Gabi said that the carts were so full he had not seen something like this for a while. And then I remembered Dia, our 13 year old, who, like her grandmother, just managed to escape this reality by chatting on the internet, very calmly, so I left her there in order not to disrupt the serenity.
The curfew is over this morning, but you should have seen downtown Ramallah. I am not even sure how I can describe people’s reactions, but perhaps stoic is the best description.