"Our Independence Day" or "I almost got shot today" or "My dealer comes to Ramallah"
Today is November 15th.
Today is our supposed "Independence Day"
Was almost killed today.
This will be brief and inarticulate. I am still in shock.
I do not remember now the exact time.... around 4:25 p.m. Ramallah time.I was so happy and excited. I had finally convinced my dealer from New York to come see me in Ramallah.
I wanted her to see our Palestine, she would understand my work better etc etc....
Carolyn arrived last night. We had spent the morning going to cultural centers, namely PACA and Riwaq. Then I took her to Amari Refugee Camp for the afternoon.
All was cool.
My sister, Carolyn and our friend Mohammed had lunch, and then we gave her a tour of the Muqata. Afterwards we returned to the center of town and were driving down the main street of Ramallah, Rukab Street. We stopped and Mohammed and I hopped out of the car to buy kanafa. Of course she had to try our delicious kanafa!! We hopped back in the car. It was a beautiful afternoon the streets were packed full of people. We stopped again to let Mohammed out so he could get his own car and we continued down Rukab street on our way.
We were headed to Mohammed's restaurant to chill out, eat our kanafa, and let Carolyn take in the intensity of all she had seen.
We were just a block away from Ziryab Coffee Shop when all of a sudden to our immediate right a van pulled up and stopped at a 90 degree angle. We couldn't drive forward because part of his van blocked us in. The doors opened and mostarabeen (Israeli army dressed as Arabs hopped out) with giant machine guns and started shooting. We were trapped.
After this point it is hard to remember what happened. We all ducked down, trapped .....to our left another van full of mostarabeen shooting away. We were surrounded.
A man with his 5 year old daughter to our right throws his daughter to the ground. Then he grabs her and makes a run for it into a shop.
Damn it. I was calm. There was shooting from M-16's all around the car.
It was hot. I was hot hot hot. I couldn't focus on anything else. My scarf was suffocating me. I was burning up with heat. I took off my scarf. I focused on trying to figure out how to take off my coat. Annemarie's phone rang - it was Mohammed (he had just gotten out 2 minutes earlier) - "Be careful there are mostarabeen in town!" - When I heard my sisters voice in the way she responded to him - Ithe reality of what was going on set in. She was trying to cover her face and head because we were sure we were about to be covered in broken glass. I have never heard my sister voice sound like that in my entire life. Panic began to set in. All I could think of was my sisters safety. God forbid anything happen to her. I grabbed her hand. She was in the front I focused on her back (her dear blessed back)as we huddled as low as we could to the bottom of the car. Shooting shooting shooting. My sister. My sister. that is all I cared about.
Oh no!God damn it! Carolyn is next to me. I am responsible. I brought her to this place! Shit. I apologized to her over and over. She kept peeking to see what was going on! I begged her to keep her head down.
I was so hot. I focused on rolling the window down. Annemarie locked the car doors. I decided to roll the window back up.
Our car got hit.
I make a note of it out loud. So does Carolyn.
No word from Annemarie. I call out to her fearing that she is silent because she has been hit.
She hasn't been.
Shooting continued all around us. I kept repeating to everyone keep your heads down - keep your heads down....
Panic began to set in. We were completely exposed. I peaked up to see Israelis in uniform now shooting in our direction.
I started trying to make a plan as to when I would open the car door and make a run for it.
I peaked again to see some Israelis were beating the shit out of a Palestinian man and throwing him into their van.
The van full of mostarabeen next to us got back into their van. As we were in their way they smashed into our car and sped off. Meanwhile in front of us and to the right the Israelis started to pull back.
Kids started throwing stones. They shot at us again. They started pulling back again.
I started feeling safe a little again. Now we might have a window to get out.
The next thing I knew the kids and shebab were along side our car (they were heading towards the injured - when they looked in and saw us in their they were horrified. To see that we were in the front row - right in the line of fire this whole time - huddled in the car. A friend of Annemaries stopped running with the men and ordered us to reverse backwards. he helped us get out.
We parked and jumped out of the car and ran into a space between two buildings for shelter.
I saw a friend of mine. He asked if I was alright - I showed him the bullet hole in our car that made it's way along the length of the whole car and exited out the back.
He said we were lucky it did not hit the gas tank.
( I had not even thought of that! )
Anyways, in short the Israelis came in - in the middle of the day - onto the main street of Ramallah - the most crowded street and attacked us on our "Independence Day".
We are alive and not injured. We are okay.
I do not know if the rental car insurance covers bullets from Israeli M-16's, or dents from being crashed into by "mostarabeen".
And so it goes, another day in Palestine.
This is not a story.
It is a small nothing in the larger context of what happens on a daily basis here.
I am sure it won't be on any news.
Another day in Palestine.
Another Independence Day gone by.
But I am with a bottle of arak and good friends now. God damn. Damn. Damn.
What could be better after a day like today.
Thank the god for arak. Thank god for friends.
Palestinians transport an injured youth to a hospital after he was shot by Israeli special forces during an undercover Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Ramallah, 15 November 2006. Eyewitnesses reported that one Palestinian was arrested and two others were injured. (MaanImages/Fadi Arouri)