December 3, 2002
JAYOUS, WEST BANK: Walled In
by Bob Holmes
“Last week all hell broke loose on the destruction site after Friday
prayers,” Radica told me as we drove north last night from Jerusalem to
Jayous on November 21. “The soldiers attacked with tear gas and sound
grenades and then beat and arrested ten of us.”
She and another international, Kerry, had just been released from jail,
having successfully won their appeal against deportation, and were heading
back for this Friday’s attempt to prevent bulldozers from destroying more
Jayous land. The Israeli military is bulldozing a 100 metre- wide slash
through orchards and fields in preparation for the construction of the
Israeli version of the “Berlin Wall,” which will separate the Occupied
Territories from Israel. It will also separate the Jayous farmers from 70%
of their land.
We arrived around 8:30 pm and immediately joined about fifteen other
internationals from the UK, Switzerland, Denmark, France, Canada and the US.
Plans were being coordinated with the leaders of the Palestinian townsfolk
for the next morning. We would block the bulldozers at 7am.
At 6 am on Friday, Israeli army jeeps rolled through Jayous announcing
curfew. The internationals would disobey the curfew. Would the
Palestinians–with so much more to risk?
By 7:30 am, Palestinian men, women and children joined the blockade – the
Palestinian women standing with the internationals on the front line,
believing Israeli soldiers less likely to shoot women and foreigners.
At 8:00 am an Israeli army jeep, a bulldozer and a backhoe came around the
bend below the blockade and stopped. The captain and two soldiers, armed
with guns and grenades, walked forward. Our designated negotiators–one
Palestinian and one international– spoke with the captain. “It’s my job to
make sure the construction company can do its work. You must get out of the
way,” said the captain. “We have come to our land to pray and will not
move,” replied the Jayous spokesman. The captain walked down the road to
confer with the operators of the heavy equipment.
Returning, he said that the machines would work below the blockade. A
victory of sorts, but…
Someone threw a soccer ball out and a mass of kids chased it back and forth
in front of the blockade until it was confiscated and the boys chased back
behind the line by armed soldiers.
And then the throwing began. But instead of stones, it was balloons being
thrown! Carried by the wind they often “hit” the soldiers, who entered into
this game with more humanity, accepting the jeers/cheers of the kids. One
daring boy even carried his balloon to a soldier, who put it in the jeep.
The soldiers returned the soccer ball, and play resumed sporadically behind
At noon, in the hot sun, 150 men and boys, in deliberate rows, with a few
women behind, stood, bowed and knelt in unison praying together on their own
threatened land. A cry to Allah and to the whole world for justice.
For photos of the wall and the blockade action check out www.clubphoto.com,
sign in with email@example.com, and open the Hebron, Fall 2002 Album.