The Daily Life of Kawther Salam

  ..: Hell Made in Israel - April 2002 :..
June, 2004

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 Monday, 1 April, 2002
 Friday, 5 April, 2002
Wednesday, 10 April, 2002
Saturday-Sunday, 13-14 April 2002
On April 14, 2002
Monday, 15 April 2002
Tuesday, 16 April 2002
Thursday, 18 April 2002
Friday, 19th April 2002
 Sunday, 21 April 2002
 Monday, 22 April 2002
 Wednesday, 24 April 2002
 Thursday, 25 April 2002

Monday, 1 April, 2002

My visa card allows me to work in all over the world, but it is not valid in Israel. The Israeli government imposed a siege on Palestinian Banks and Visa Cards. My Israeli friends helped me to survive. One of my friends, Dina Lee is still taking care of all of my expenses.

It is enough to be a Palestinian and living in a "hell."

I am not allowed to live in my house because the Israeli soldiers occupy it.

I am not allowed to renew my press card, because the Jewish settlers don’t acknowledge me.

I am not allowed to work and move freely in Hebron, because the Israelis object to my journalistic work.

I am not allowed to work out of Hebron, because the Israeli military blocked the passage with their siege.

I am not allowed to live in Israel because I am a Palestinian.

Do you have an advice that may help me to live, work and move? Please tell me.

Do you have an advice how to build a "paradise" in the middle of this Israeli created "Hell"? Please advise me.

What shall I do in order to live and work normally like other people?

Friday, 5 April, 2002

Today, the French T.V representative approached me about working in the territories. When I told him that I had not received the "GPO" Israeli government press card, he called Mr. Daniel Seaman. He asked him about the problem I was having. Mr. Seaman was very angry when he heard my name. He said that they didn’t want me to approach them. He said “If she approaches our office to ask about her card, I will kick her out of Israel!” He meant “arrest.”

Mr. Seaman confirmed to the Israeli French TV representative that he would expel me from Israel instead of helping me to exercise my professional duties like all other journalists who work in democratic countries of the world. The Israeli government press office nowadays is chasing Palestinian journalists. The press office is playing the role of the Israeli Police. Maybe this happens because the Israeli police are very busy chasing and arresting the Israeli Peace demonstrators in the streets!

Wednesday, 10 April, 2002

A US radio program that is heard on a radio station coast-to-coast and also worldwide over the Internet posted my dairy on their website: The host is Jeff Rense. He interviewed me live on his radio program on Monday, April 8 at 9 pm Pacific time in Israel. Mr. Rense said that it is very important to hear voices like mine in such difficult times. He posted my recent report on the news services at the site I mentioned - Today, I received several International calls from California in the US, Germany and Vienna. The callers said that they had heard my interview on the US radio program. They encouraged me to continue writing my diary on the Gush Shalom website. Professor Dr. Arick from a university in the US, told me that he sent my diary at the Gush Shalom website and to the Observer newspaper for publishing. He said that many journalists were interested in publishing my diary after the US radio posted it on it's website program.

Saturday-Sunday, 13-14 April 2002

The Israeli soldiers shot at our car on Highway 60 at the entrance of Halhol. We had 9 people in the car. A small child was injured in his right arm. The passengers were screaming. The soldiers continued shooting while the driver desperately tried to save our lives. He drove on to Jerusalem in search of another way to help us to reach our homes in the city of Hebron. An Israeli officer from the civil administration said "The soldiers fired on Highway 60 in order to try to prevent a Palestinian woman from Beit Fajjar who exploded herself in Ben Yahoda St. in Jerusalem yesterday!" I asked the officer “Is it justice to shoot innocent people just because they happen to be traveling in areas that are being fought over? The officer hung up the telephone.

On April 14, 2002

I walked to Al-Shallaleh St. under Israeli control in Area H2 in Hebron. I saw that 5 Israeli soldiers had stopped 10 Palestinian youths on the wall in the corner of a narrow road. All of them were naked and being searched. I stopped to take some documentary pictures when one of the soldiers noticed me and informed his friends. The other soldiers stopped the search in front of the camera and ordered the youths to put their clothes on. I continued on my way reaching Beit Romano settlement. A barber asked me to stop and help him. He was complaining about the practices of the IDF soldiers. He said that the soldiers prevented the Palestinians from opening their shops after the curfew was lifted. While listening to the barber some Israeli soldiers were yelling at me. One of them pointed his gun at me. He ordered me to show him my ID and not to move one step. The other soldiers on the rooftop were pointing their guns at me as well. I showed him my ID, but the soldier asked the barber to take it and give it to him.

The soldier said “She is a terrorist”.
I asked him “What did you say?”
He said “You are a terrorist.”
I asked him “Why?”.
He said “Because you are a Palestinian.”
I told the soldier that “It is very clear that I am a journalist and this is my camera.”
The soldier said “No it's not a camera. It is a gun.”
The officer said “You are a fascist and you deserved to die.”
The other soldiers pointed their guns at me.

They ordered me to return. They said that no one is allowed to talk back to the army and every body should listen. The Israeli officer said “People here not allowed to walk and talk or gather in the area H2 under the Israeli control in Hebron. Every one should walk alone for security reasons.” Palestinians are not allowed to live normally like all other human beings in Hebron. They are not allowed to send there children to schools, to drive there cars, marry or celebrate ... etc. They are only allowed to leave their houses in the their limited area of the city. This is the main strategic policy of the occupation ...

Monday, 15 April 2002

The soldier's were calling me "Fatimah, Fatimah, givaret, givaret, what are you doing?” They continued yelling insults at me. I ignored them. I was filming the garbage that was left in my house by IDF soldiers. The soldiers had been inside my bedroom. My clothes were strewn on the floor full of dirt. My papers were spread all over my room. My book on the Israeli-Palestinian interim agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip and other political books were cut to small pieces. Some pages had human feces on them. Sand was spread all over my rooms covering my electrical appliances. The soldiers had turned every thing upside down in my house. This was clearly a vengeance attack on me. I was shocked as I looked around at this terrible mass.

The soldiers outside continued yelling at me. I decided to ignore them. I was very angry about what they had done in my house. They damaged every thing and they stole my cassettes, a necklace, my silver and gold jewelry. They left me two words written on the wall, “Fuck you." The night came quickly. I found myself alone in the middle of the IDF soldier’s wreckage without light. The soldiers had cut the electricity and the telephone wires. I didn't even have glass of water to drink. I didn't have any thing to eat. Foul smells had spread through my house. My God, I had such terrible feelings - fear mixed with anger and humiliation. I asked myself “How I will sleep in my house ? It's not a house. This is a military occupation mess”.

I remembered the Jewish family that I had lived with in Tel-Aviv and their small child. I should be with Romi instead of the middle of this garbage. The soldiers continued to make a lot of noise on my roof, banging on the water tanks and stomping on the metal underneath the roof. They were yelling me continually, throwing stones, and playing their radios loudly. At 10 pm, 20 soldiers were on my roof. The soldiers were calling each other names. They began singing. They taunted me to sing with them. Two soldiers invited me to share their “festivities.” They yelled “We want you!” I didn't answer these insults and I left my house at 10:30 pm to sleep at my neighbor’s home.

Tuesday, 16 April 2002

Today I sent a letter to Colonel Dror Weinberg, the IDF commander in Hebron concerning his soldiers atrocious behavior toward me on the streets and on the roof top of my house. The letter enclosed copies of my diary from 13th-15th, April 2002. I wrote to Weinberg "I believe you can stop this game if you wish. I'm not interesting in writing any more about your soldiers, if they would stop sexually harassing and in the streets. Thank you for your consideration." At 7:30 pm yesterday, I was walking In Al-Shallaleh St. under Israeli control in Hebron on my way to stay in a hotel. The street was completely empty. A military jeep stopped near the border between the Area H1 under the Palestinian Authority and Area H2 under the Israeli authority. One of the Israeli soldiers was shooting toward the Palestinian area, the center of the city, where there were no noticeables clashes. I took a picture and kept going. The military jeep drove up to me very quickly and stopped in front of me. A soldier opened the door and said, "Kawther, how are you"? He was the same soldier who was shooting toward the Palestinian area. I recognized this soldier. “Oh God,” I said to myself “He is the officer who I had met before twice.”

One time was when he threatened to shoot, and the other was when he told me that he loved to talk with me! I was scared. When he asked me to stop and speak to him, he was anxious. Maybe because I had filmed him shooting randomly. He asked, "Where have you been? I haven’t seen you for three weeks.” I told him that I had not been around here and I continued on my way. He said, “Please stop for awhile and talk, I missed you. I want…” I said, “No, I couldn't, I should leave now.” Some Palestinians were watching us though the windows. I crossed the street to another one.

A soldier from the military post near Bet Hadassah settlement called out to me, “Come here.” I approached the soldiers. They asked, “Who are you?” I said, “I'm a journalist.” The soldiers asked, “What are you doing? “I said I'm on my way back to the hotel. The soldier said, “There was shooting here just three minutes before you arrived. Did you did you see any one in the street?” I said, “Yes, I saw soldiers in a military jeep shooting toward the Palestinian area. The soldier's said, “So leave this area very quickly and take care of your self.”

Today 16th, April 12 pm It's a miracle! The Israeli soldiers talked to me very politely while they were stopping a woman near Al-Shuhada Street border. The soldiers asked me, “Who are you?” I answered, “I'm a Palestinian. The soldiers said, “No, you are kidding. I said, yes I am a Palestinian.” The soldiers asked me about my political point of view. We talked together as human beings. I respect what they told me. I understand that there are many soldiers carrying the same point of view, but they didn't have influence to make any changes. After our talk, I continued walking. The soldier near the Bet Romano settlement asked me if I needed any help when I passed next to them. It's a miracle! Near the vegetable market, the soldier's asked me, “Who are you?” After I left the area, I met five soldiers being dropped off at Abu Sineneh. The officer spat at me when he became near to me. He is the same officer who told me two days ago that I was a "terrorist"

Thursday, 18 April 2002

My father taught me to say the truth whether it is "salt" or "sweet." How I do this today? It's just one way to be a witness for the truth against injustice. In this way I try to contribute toward the justice and healing required for the preservation of life and the holding back of evil and death. I want to bear witness today to what I have seen in Hebron. What I'm reporting to you is not imaginary. It is simply a record of the events taking place today in the empty streets in Hebron under the curfew. The streets were empty when I made my tour in the city. The cats, the rats and the dogs were running along my way acting out a play of the city of the ghosts. I was glancing right and left all the time while bullets passed over my head. The military posts where shooting. I should have walked on the safety side, I said to myself turning my face to the left side discovering an old man. He was naked and masturbating. I decided to take some pictures. I shouted, and the man ran away. Five Israeli soldiers approached me, they asked, "What happened"? When I told them the story, they drove quickly to search the area.

Friday, 19th April 2002

I don’t know how to survive as a woman and a journalist under the daily psychological pressure made by the IDF soldiers. In the streets, the soldiers call me names with sexual remarks. At my home they continue to throw garbage as well. I suppose the military commanders are playing a political game with me as a journalist. Two days ago I sent a letter to Colonel Dror Weinberg, the IDF commander in Hebron, concerning the soldiers behavior toward me in the streets and on my roof. Today, my home entrance was damaged and blocked. I asked the soldiers stationed in the street in front of my house on "point 4.5" to help me open the door. I called Mark from the CPT too. Five soldiers arrived. Mark finally opened the door. The handle was damaged. The soldiers looked inside my house. They were polite. One of them said he saw me in Al-Shallaleh St. a month ago. The soldiers saw the military mess in my balcony - the, garbage, sand, stones, bottles of coca cola, urine, broken glass ...etc.

The officer said that he was going to report this to another officer. I had reported this to his commander two days ago. Maybe he was busy shelling the Palestinians homes in "Dora" west of Hebron. Near Bet Romano settlement, the soldiers asked me to stop. They were yelling, "Witch, witch, makashefa, Dana International, how are you"? The soldiers ordered me not to record them. They threatened to shoot at me if I did.

Sunday, 21 April 2002

When I arrived at the Beit Romano Jewish settlement (the Yeshiva School) in the city of Hebron (Area H2) under the Israeli control, it was 11:30 am. I heard voices calling loudly:"Kawther Salam the Makhashifa (witch) is coming!" I turned to the right and I identified the same IDF soldiers who had called me names before. I saw a crowd of Palestinians, Israeli Police and soldiers stopped in front of the Palestinian Gold shop of Mr. Khalel Abu Shekhedim.

Mr. Abu Shekhedim said that the settlers had broken into his shop from the back that faces the settlement of Bet Romano. They broke into his shop and stole between $50,000 - $60,000 in gold jewelry and money. He said “Yesterday, when the curfew was lifted, I came to open my shop, but the IDF soldier's didn't allow me to enter it. I realized the light switch was on inside the shop, so I tried to open the door, but it was closed from inside. I called the Israeli Police. They arrived and went inside the settlement to check. They came back after awhile and said, “We didn't find any thing wrong in your shop." The Israeli Police told Mr. Shekhedim that they couldn't take his complaint now because of the Jewish festival that was being held, and because many settlers were assembling in the area. They advised him to call them tomorrow if he found something had happened in his shop.

Mr. Shekhedim brought a torch-cutter worker to help him to open his shop. He found everything inside had been stolen. His shop was opened from the back. The settlers left the equipment they had used to break into his shop. I saw the Israeli Police officer from the investigation unit. He had gone inside the settlement. After he came out he advised Mr. Abu Shekhedim to visit them tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock to file his complaint. Mr. Shekhedim said, "I expect that the settlers did the same to the other gold shops in the market," which is called the "Gold Market" in Hebron. He added that the Israeli army didn't allow his neighboring shopkeepers to open their shops, even after the curfew was lifted. In a different incident, Mr. Shawkat Al Fakhouri found his shop, which was located in front of the Israeli Police station in the area of the Abraham Cave, broken into and all his goods were stolen.

When he went to the police station to file a complaint, the police told him, "We don't take complaints during the war." The officer said, "We don't work as observers here. We are busy in our offices." After the curfew, which was imposed on Hebron last week, Palestinians found all the shops along Al-Shuhada and Al-Shallaleh Streets and the vegetable market had been burglarized and their goods stolen. The Israeli Police officer said they would record the Palestinian’s complaints, and that they would try to apprehend the settlers who did this damage to the Palestinians shops.

Monday, 22 April 2002

Letter to the Colonel Dror Weinberg

After I crossed Al-Shalaleh St., I heard the IDF soldiers yelling, “Marwan Al-Bargouti, Osama Ben Laden Wait.” I didn't realize that the IDF soldiers were yelling at me. I kept walking, but the soldiers ran after me. They called me “bitch” and “witch.” They ordered me to go back to the old city, or to change my way back to the “Hell,” which would have been hundreds of kilometers around the street from where they stopped me! When I asked them the reason for this, they said, “It's closed.” I asked “Why?” The soldiers said, “For no reasons, this is the order.”

I asked them if they possessed the authorized orders to stop journalists and send them back. The soldiers said, “No, we don’t have any thing like that. One soldier pushed me back and threatened to shoot at me, but I didn't look scared. I asked him to stop hurting me. I stopped in the same place where they detained me. I refused to go back. The situation was very tense. The streets were empty but the soldiers continued harassing me for one hour. They called the Israeli Police to force me to go back. The Policemen arrived, but they didn’t arrest me. They were surprised what the soldiers had done to me. They ordered me to keep walking on the same street. I recorded the conversation with the IDF soldiers. Their recorded voices will be on Gush Shalom web site as soon as possible. As a result of this event, I wrote to Colonel Dror Weinberg, the IDF commander in Hebron.

This is my letter.

To: Colonel Dror Weinberg
From: Kawther Salam

Subject; The IDF Threats

Dear Commander:

I'm deeply concerned about the violation of the free movement of the Press in the city of Hebron, the Area H2 under your authority. I'm not sure if delaying my work as a journalist for two hours daily, under detention near the wall near Beit Romano settlement, and calling me “Marwan Bargouti,” “Osama Bin Laden,” “whore”, “bitch” and “witch,” is part of the IDF security mission in Hebron. Are these your military instructions? Does such sick behavior reflect the sick nature of the IDF soldiers?

What I'm certain is that I'm not “Marwan Bargouti,” or “Osama Bin Laden.” I'm not a killer or a terrorist, and I'm not committed to suicide operations in Israel. I'm a journalist and a defender of human rights. I wonder if the soldiers here are human being or are they from another planet to kill others? I informed you that my life is in danger under your soldier’s daily threats to shoot me. You are responsible Colonel Weinberg for the harassment and damages committed by your soldiers toward me especially after I sent you my letter dated 22, April 2002. This letter will be posted on the Internet for the world to see.

Wednesday, 24 April 2002

I'm calling upon the International community, the democratic countries, human rights organizations, human rights defenders, and all the peace-lovers in the world to rescue my life. I seek asylum in a peaceful country to write about my experience as a journalist in the area of the Israel/Palestine conflict. I'm calling upon everyone who reads my appeal to distribute it to people of whom it may concern. I can't survive anymore, existing in a living hell alone with the soldiers of occupation invading my living space - they have a checkpoint on top of my bedroom roof.

I can't live like this, without water, electricity, television, and telephone in the middle of garbage and urine spread by soldiers in front of my bedroom. I can't live 24 hours a day, face to face with these soldiers who called me sick names and make sexual remarks without shame. The soldiers watched me at night. They continued to bang on the water tanks and stomped on the metal underneath the roof of my balcony. I couldn't sleep one moment during this terrible noise. How many nights did I run away in the middle of the night to sleep in my neighbor’s homes?

There were more times than I care to remember. During the day, I walked alone in the empty streets under the curfew with soldiers provoking me. They stopped me in the streets under detention, called me horrible names and threatened to shoot me. The Israeli government refused to renew my press card in order to give legitimacy to the harassment by the soldiers and to make my work appear illegal. The soldiers harassed me constantly. One day they cut up my International press card and threw it on the street. The soldiers took revenge on me as a reporter and as a Palestinian. They called me a “hostile journalist” to make the settlers here happy. The settlers are harassing me too, throwing stones, garbage, and eggs on me in the streets. I filed several complaints with the police - over 300 - but I still live under the same conditions.

Thursday, 25 April 2002

I decided to repair my house again. I requested the construction worker to replace the damaged glass, paint the walls and change the damaged locks and keys. I have decided to stay with some friends for this time period.

On the 4th, of May 2002, I went back to my house. The settlers and the soldiers were crowded in front of my house. I kept walking to my house. I tried to open the new door lock, but some waxy material blocked it! When I called the soldiers to help me to open the door, the settlers threw stones at me. The soldiers laughed at them. I ran away.

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