A normal day in the lives of my Palestinian neighbors.
by Paulette Schroeder
Our neighbor Haniya shrugged her shoulders as she spoke, disheartened.
“This is all normal for us now. What can we do anyway?”
Forty-four years have passed since the Israeli occupation
began ruling a huge section of the West Bank. Here martial law governs thousands of people’s lives in
almost every aspect of their days as they travel to and from their families,
schools, health services, farms and stores.
My friend Fatima used to live in a small outlying village,
but due to lack of money, she moved to H2, Hebron, where she could work in a
small shop owned by her sister.
Fatima’s seven children are now all teens, and one daughter is married.
Two sons have quit high school. The reality of finding a good job
after schooling is almost nonexistent, they reason. Because there is no
mandatory schooling for Palestinian children, the children roam the streets, or
help their family.
Fatima, like many shopkeepers, opens her shop each morning
very early, hoping that tourists will buy a dress, embroidered pillowcase, or
small purse or shawl that day. She
and her sister have plenty of women who want to embroider for them, but Fatima
barely makes enough money for her own family. Since her husband is not
able to work, the family depends entirely on Fatima’s scant income.
Already, one of her two sons, fifteen years old, has been accused of throwing a
stone at a soldier and despite the eye witnesses who said he did not throw the
stone, he served two months in an Israeli prison. Like many other families, this family too borrowed and paid
1200 shekels (about 327 U.S. dollars) for the release of their son. These
fines then subsidize Israel’s military occupation.
The day isn’t over when the shops close down. Parents with teenage sons rarely sleep
soundly. They worry that the night will bring soldiers breaking into
their home, awakening everyone, locking the family into one room and then
taking their teenage son with them to a prison. Soldiers grabbed a friend of the team who is in his first
year of university at 1:30 a.m. He
served six months in prison with no official charge lodged against him. I ask myself, how can anyone, any
country not hear the cries of these people for compassion and justice? Don’t they deserve a normal life too?