'The world is closing on us, pushing us through the last passage, and we tear off our limbs to pass through.' Thus Mahmoud Darwish, writing in the aftermath of the PLO's exit from Beirut in August 1982. 'Where shall we go after the last frontiers, where should the birds fly after the last sky'? Nineteen years later, what was happening then to the Palestinians in Lebanon is happening to them in Palestine. Since the al-Aqsa Intifada began last September, Palestinians have been sequestered by the Israeli Army in no fewer than 220 discontinuous little ghettoes, and subjected to intermittent curfews often lasting for weeks at a stretch. No one, young or old, sick or well, dying or pregnant, student or doctor, can move without spending hours at barricades, manned by rude and deliberately humiliating Israeli soldiers. As I write, two hundred Palestinians are unable to receive kidney dialysis because for 'security reasons' the Israeli military won't allow them to travel to medical centres. Have any of the innumerable members of the foreign media covering the conflict done a story about these brutalised young Israeli conscripts trained to punish Palestinian civilians as the main part of their military duty? I think not.
LRB 3 January 2002 | PDF Download