The Partisans of the Ghost Town in Brescia

febbraio 27, 2014 in Approfondimenti, Palestina, Traduzioni da Anna Zorzi

Written by Beatrice Orini, translated by Anna Zorzi  Bandierina-Italiana

giardinetti di via Odorici“Walking through Shuhada Street and knowing the astonishing reality of Hebron shocked me:  I really felt powerless. However, the people I met let me realize that I could do something important for them:  I could come back home and tell my people what I had seen during my journey.” This is how Sonia Trovato, the chief editor of Gruppo2009 magazine and the organizer of this public event, explains the idea behind the informative meeting about apartheid in Hebron (Al Khalil in Arab)  and the closing of Shuhada Street,  which was held on 24th  February at Casa del Popolo , in v. Risorgimento,  Urago Mella.

The initiative was promoted on national scale by  Assopace Palestina and on local scale by Associazione Amicizia Italia-Palestina Brescia and Gruppo2009, with the collaboration of other local associations like Anpi Brescia, Arci, Cgil-Camera del Lavoro, Circolo Arci Colori e Sapori, Fondazione Guido Piccini.  The protagonists of the event were Izzat Karaki  and Jawad Abu Aisha,  who are the representatives of Hebron’s non-violent  organization Youth Against Settlements (YAS). The purpose of the evening was to inform people how the segregation imposed by Israel through the closing of Shuhada Street  is disruptive in the life of the Palestinian inhabitants. The closing of this street, as Sonia reminds the audience, was “ imposed by Israeli Authorities to protect  the settlers, just after one of them was responsible for the massacre of Palestinians in the mosque of Abraham in 1994. As a matter of fact, at present 600 settlers, protected by the army,  have the control of the old town and of 20 thousand Palestinians who live there.”

Before the guests’ testimonies, simultaneously translated by Iyas  Ashkar, a video by the journalist Livia Parisi on the shocking reality of Hebron  was shown: a deserted street, buildings to pieces, Palestinian houses with gratings to protect them against the stones and the rubbish thrown down from the  illegal Israeli settlements  above; the constant  provocations from the settlers, the strong, violent military presence, the fear of the Palestinians, but also their brave, pacific resistance. “Cameras are our guns” says a young volunteer  in the video, but another interviewed says: “ Palestinians will never accept this occupation”.


“The only possible way for us is the non- violent resistance” says one of the guest, Izzat Karaki, a long-term volunteer for the YAS:” We are a non- partisan group of young people working on projects” he explains- “ First of all we document everything the settlers do in order to expose them and to be right to justice ; then we teach English to the young, so they can interact with the international community, and Hebrew to our women, so that they can communicate with the Israeli soldiers when they break into their houses; then we help people with little work  which is greatly important to them. Moreover, we managed to convert an old, decaying house  in Shuhada Street into a kindergarten , whose service is free, despite the many blocks and obstructions by the Israeli army.”

Jawad Abu Aisha showed a video  recently shot by their association: tens of soldiers  attacking  only one volunteer ; an ambulance inexplicably stopped, which will cause the death of  an old woman;  night raids into houses, many  local and foreign volunteers, inhabitants, but above all kids and youngsters arrested.” 2013 saw too many youngsters arrested.- says Jawad – Taking aim at the youngsters means to frighten them and oblige their family to run away, to abandon their houses, making this way more and more room for  the settlers.”

In 2000 Jawad, born in an area now occupied, saw his father close down his own garage, where he worked with his two sons,  for no reason and lived through all the stages of the occupation. He tells about the tactics used by the soldiers to confiscate houses and snatch entire neighbourhoods or points out how Hebron is exceptional since it is the only city of the West Bank where the settlements lie in the old part of the town.

YAS a Brescia“Living violent moments is not like watching them on Tv” says Jawad –“we are here to bear witness and to invite all those who love freedom to support us”.  How? “ Visiting us in our country – the guest replies – maybe staying in our houses, which makes them safer. Or making a donation to our association”. The seat of YAS is on the hill of Tel Rumeida opposite an Israeli settlement guarded by the army day and night. Despite that, the Palestinian flag proudly waves on the roof top, the only one in the Ghost Town.

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