April 3, 2002
We returned home heavy-hearted to face the terrible news on the television. CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and many more blared developments - constantly changing, constantly repeated, blurring together in our minds as the hours passed. We were chilled by the prospect that the horrifying scenes in Ramallah and Bethlehem might be repeated in villages throughout Palestine, including Zababdeh. People trapped in their homes without enough food, water, medicine, fuel. People shot on sight for venturing out. Journalists expelled so the world can't see what's happening. Ambulances attacked and medical help denied. People buried in a mass grave in a parking lot. Soldiers going house-to-house rounding up all men, and tearing up homes as they searched them. Executions. Our email was overflowing with messages sharing the latest developments and desperately calling for intervention: Physicians for Human Rights - Israel, Gush Shalom, LAW, Independent Media Centre, and many more.
Around suppertime, after the mosque's loudspeaker announced the closure
of schools, we discovered that telephone service had been cut outside of
Zababdeh; we could call within the village, but nowhere else. The only
link to the outside was cellphones, and we wondered how much longer they
would have service. Late that night, the Israeli army began re-entering
Jenin. The sounds of scores of tanks and shooting resonated across Zababdeh.
We might have felt called to stay in spite of (or even because of) this threat if we still had email or even telephone access. Like those internationals staying in Ramallah, Bethlehem, and other places, we might have done so to offer support and to share on-the-ground news with the outside world. We might have. As it is, we have left our dear friends behind, and we feel awful for doing so. We are terribly sad and worried about them. Since we left, we have spoken to as many of our friends in the West Bank as we could, including those we could reach in Zababdeh. As yet, the village is still quiet - starting tomorrow, there will be no electricity except a few hours at night, because there is very little petrol left. People are afraid of what is to come.
We are now staying with friends in largely-Palestinian Nazareth, Jesus' hometown now in the north of Israel. Although sad, we also feel relief and calm to be in a safe place. However, we hope and pray to be able to return to Zababdeh soon. Our hearts and our prayers (as well as all our stuff) remain there.
In the most urgent way we know how, we ask you to pray for peace. And we ask you to act for justice. Let your voices be heard by your governments NOW; the international community cannot and must not sit on the sidelines. The Israeli military is brutalizing whole cities, breaking international laws with impunity. Not only is it endangering thousands of people, it is robbing millions in Israel and Palestine of a future together, finishing off hopes for a peaceful settlement in which co-existence is still possible. Future generations will judge us by our actions now. May they be merciful.
In Hopes of Peace,
Elizabeth and Marthame
P.S . With evacuation of internationals and media expulsions, there
are few eyewitnesses watching and sharing what is now taking place.
We hope to stay in touch with as many people as possible throughout the
West Bank so that we can update our journal
daily - not only with our news, but theirs. Please visit it regularly.
P.P.S. We are available to talk to any interested media as well - the more the world is made aware the more cause there is for hope.