Well, it's my last day in Nablus before I head to Jerusalem, and I have had kind of an emotional last week becuase I have had to say goodbye to all my students. They all ask me when I am coming back, and ask me not to forget them. Some even offered for me to move in with their parents so that I could stay! ha ha.
Yesterday I went to a protest in Bi'lin that I had been hoping to attend for a while. The protest is in solidarity with Palestinian farmers whose land has been occupied by Israeli soldiers for the past four years when a massive fence was built right through their olive groves. The fence that was built is an extension of the apartheid wall that is being built by the Israeli government (funded largely by the US) to physically separate Palestinians and Israelis. The Israeli government claims the wall is needed for the security and protection of Israel, but the unfortunate reality is that the wall is being built to expropriate land from Palestinian farmers and villagers, and in many cases has meant that families are unable to cross this border to see one another.
So, this was very important to me to show solidarity with the Palestinian farmers in Bi'lin. This protest was a particularly large one, and the vice president of the European Union was even there to express solidarity with Palestinians and to tell the Israeli soldiers that they were breaking international law.
A group of about 150 people (both local and international volunteers) marched through the village towards the wall, a group of folksy canadians played songs on their acordians, we chanted "1, 2, 3, 4 occupation no more!" and walked to the wall, the soldiers watched from the hilltop and when we reached the fence, they let us pass through the first one, so now we were effectively stuck between two fences. When the international delegates of the EU started trying to tell the soldiers that they were breaking the law and that they must open the gate to let the farmers through to their land the soldiers set off a sound bomb. Terrifying, becuase we didn't know if it was live ammunition or not. Very claustrophobic being trapped between 2 fences. Then came the tear gas, more sound bombs, and the group kind of fragmented, I managed to get through a hole in the fence and escape most of the tear gas in the safety of the Palestinian olive groves, but soon they village boys started throwing rocks at the soldiers and things deteriorated, the tear gas was non-stop, the rubber bullets began and I walked to a hill top and stood in fear/shock of what was happening. I am still kind of absorbing the event, it was really frightening becuase the soldiers did not hesitate to start using sound bombs and tear gas, completely unprovoked. I am really glad I bore witness nonetheless. If anyone is interested in learning more about this go to this website:
I love you all! I am headed to Jerusalem for a few days!