Daniel Day-Lewis and Throwing Stones at Israeli Apartheid

We arrive at the MSF headquarters in Gaza City for the daily logistical meeting. Hiba, a French-Algerian about to complete her mission, has perhaps the most stressful job of all: to daily organise and monitor the movements of each of the six teams working here. She has to seek “co-ordinations”, which, in the veiled dialect of occupation, means permission to enter and leave any sensitive area. This she achieves, if possible, through an Israeli DCL area commander in the department of co-ordination. We’d met one of them — just a kid like the others — at Erez. “Oh, Hiba, she takes it all too personally,” he’d said. As if the whole thing were a game, with no hard feelings, between consenting adults. Even with this “co-ordination”, an MSF team may arrive in the area only to be refused access by the local Israeli officer in charge (or, in some cases, to be shot at). No reason need be given. “Security,” they’re sometimes told.

Hiba is constantly assessing, reassessing, adapting. At any moment the heavily fortified Israeli checkpoint at Abu Houli, in the centre of the Strip, can be closed, effectively dividing Gaza into two parts. It may remain closed for four, six, 10 hours. It might be a security alert or an officer’s whim. Yasser, Sue’s Bedouin driver, once waited for three days to cross. We were held up there. A Palestinian officer, identifiable by the size of his belly, had overridden his leaner subordinates and waved us to the front of the queue. A babble of aggressive commands was disgorged from the IDF bunker through new burglar-proof loudspeakers. Recently a gang of young boys had made a human pyramid and stolen the originals. “Wah, wah, wah,” the boxes yell at you from within their razor-wire cocoons.

Hiba rests only when the teams return safely to their bases in Gaza City, or in the south where another MSF apartment allows visits there to continue if the checkpoint is closed.

At the southern MSF base in Abassan I’m awoken on our third day at 4.30am by the call to prayer, then again at 7am by the surprising sound of children in a school playground. In any place, in any language, the sound is unmistakable. Gleeful and contentious. When you’re in bed and you don’t have to go to school yourself it’s delicious. Are they taught here, among other things, that they have no future? The windows on this side of the apartment overlook a playground of pressed dirt with a black-and-white-striped goal of tubular metal at each end. The school, conspicuously unmarked by bullet or shellfire, is a long two-storey building, built in an L-shape along two sides of the pitch. It is painted cream and pistachio and resembles a motel in Arizona. (Later, in the refugee camp at Rafah, we’ll drive past one riddled with bullet holes, and meet a grinning 10-year-old who proudly shows us the scars, front and back, where the bullet passed through his neck one day at school.)

After waking, I move to the back of the flat, to the kitchen. At the far side of a hand-tilled field warming itself in the early sunshine stand two pristine houses, white and cream, like miniature palaces. The field is hemmed at one end by a row of olive trees, and at the other by a large cactus.

A middle-aged man and woman in traditional clothes move the drills in unison. The distance between them maintained, gestures identical, they advance, bent at the waist, planting one tiny onion at a time plucked from a metal bowl. If an occupying force were ever in need of an image to advertise the benevolence of their authority, this would be it. I wonder what awaits them. I try but fail to imagine the roar of a diesel engine, the filth of its exhaust, as a bulldozer turns this idyll to dust.

Later, sipping cardamom-flavoured coffee, I look down on a fiercely contested football game. Half the kids have bare feet. There’s a teacher on each side, in shirt and tie. One tries a volley which, to shrieks of delight, sails over the wall behind the goal. Two little boys watch, arms around each other. They turn and hug for a long time, then wander off still arm in arm. Sue Mitchell arrives. The co-ordination we needed has come through. After the warning shots fired at us from the watchtower at Tuffah yesterday, we’d thought maybe the Israelis would refuse it.

15 thoughts on “Daniel Day-Lewis and Throwing Stones at Israeli Apartheid

  1. As Jew I am not allowed to live in PA, Saoedie Arab, and a lot of more country’s.
    In Israel there are judges, doctors, ingenieurs part of the Israelian society.
    An Israely arab has all the same right as Israelian Jews.
    The only difference is that they do not have to go to the army, but the are allowed.
    And some of them do go.

  2. You are not allowed to live in Saudi Arabia, which is one of the worst countries in the world, so that’s a good comparison: Even the horrible Saudis don’t discriminate against people who they have occupied an made to suffer horrors for decades.

    Also, the article is talking about occupied Palestinians, not the Israeli citizens. To Israeli, they’re all in Israel. So basically you kick someone in the face, then complain about their face hitting your foot, then bomb them to pieces.

  3. apartheids staat ahould mean that residents are discriminated on ground of race, religion etc.
    In Israel this is not done.
    The from Jordan freed territories are not part of Israel.
    The laws followed there are the Jordan laws.

    Jews used to live in this territories before Jordan occupied it, in te cencus from 1845 and 1900 the bigges group in Jeruzalem where the Jews.
    So why should they not anymore have the right to live there just because Jordan expelled and killed them for 19 years (1948 – 1967).

  4. Even non citizen Arabs living in “Occupied Territories” are allowed to enter to Israel. Until second Intifada there were no checkpoints and the Arabs enter Israeli freely with vehicles the same way Belgians enter France. The need to stop that arrangement and to put fence and gates is due to only high aggression of Islamic terror of second intifada. Now more than 150,000 PA Arabs coming to work each day inside Israel.

    Saying that Israel is a State of Apartheid is extreme idiocy. That means that Jews haven’t right to defend themselves from ongoing Islamic daily terror. Muslim extremists used to launch daily rockets deliberately targeted at Israel civilians, and people had died. If Mexico to launch even one rocket at Texas I’m sure that US army wouldn’t leave stone un-touched in the area from where the rocket was launched, not matter the near-by civilians. Israel stopped, not once, aerial attacks that found to host civilians inside or near-by at the midst of the attack/ No other army does it.

    Hamas use civilians, mainly kids, as human shield for their terror attackers, knowing well that if Israel will detect it on time they will hold the attack, but if the Israel didn’t see it by their intelligence, than it will cost the dead of the kids, which will enable Hamas to blame Israel as “children murderer”. But the real murderers are Hamas itself.

    Listen to what one of the high ranking Hamas leader has to say on the matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTu-AUE9ycs


  6. Pingback: Are Israeli Jews the most racist people on Earth? - Page 461

  7. IsraeWorst, how dare you blame the Palestinians for rising up against the humiliation of the occupation.. If Palestinians were living in peace and dignity then there would not be a first, a second, and now a third Intifada. The fact is that anyone with a shred of human decency will stand with the Palestinian cause when they learn about what’s really happening on the ground. Which is what is happening with people when visiting “the stolen land of Israel”, and Israelis hate it when these things come out because it defies the system they have put together to prevent the truth from coming out, controlling the media and Hollywood, so even if Daniel Day Lewis dares to ask for an interview with CNN or NBC to share his findings, the Oscar award winner will never get a chance or will get a brief moment then be called and anti-Semite and be damned for life just like what happened to Helen Thomas and others in the past.

    Saying that Hamas is using the Palestinian civilians as human shields was the number 1 excuse by all Israeli officials during the last massacre in Gaza for killing 100’s of children and women, which was denied by the UN analysis. There are still efforts to try to take the Israel PM to criminal court for this.

    No one buys your Zionist propaganda bs anymore..

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