“I will not surrender my education to the occupying forces….” -Palestine
Zajel youth exchange-Palestine
05 May 2004 08:16 GMT
soldiers occupied all entrances to the City. We had no choice but to try Huwarah checkpoint and ask the soldiers to allow us to enter. The Israeli soldiers not only refused but also started beating some guys who were with us. They forced us to stay in the hot sun for hours. I saw some teachers who were trying to pass the checkpoint to attend their classes, but they were forced to go back.
Manar Muhsen/21 years old
“I will not surrender my education to the occupying forces….”
Manar is a student at An Najah National University, Nablus, majoring in pharmacology for the past three years. She travels form the city of Hebron located in the southern part of the West Bank, because there are no schools in Hebron that offer a pharmacology program. Manar traditionally carpools to Nablus every Monday morning, and returns home after completing her classes at the end of the week. Manar's usual travel time between Hebron and Nablus took about three hours each way, however, after the September 2000 uprising the travel time has become more than eight hours each way. Manar talks about her frustrations and the anger she feels toward the orchestrated plans of Israeli occupying forces, which have created massive travel delays between her home and Nablus. Manar as well as many other students have chosen to travel the dangerous mountainous roads to school, so that they may get there without having to go through the lengthy and humiliating check points imposed on Palestinians by the Israeli government. This is Manar's story:
Israeli soldiers know about the severe dust in summer, and mud in winter that exist on the second class mountain roads. I remember well, the day that I had to come through Wadi Al-Nar (the Fire Valley), which is a dangerous curvy road, so that I could get to school. The big question was how to enter Nablus City, because all entrances to the city were closed by military roadblocks. When we arrived to the outskirts of the city we were forced to walk until we reached the village of Till, but the village was also closed. We had to use the road of Borin Mountain, which is very difficult to climb due to the gravel roads and uneven surfaces, while at the same time carrying our heavy schoolbooks. Our journey was further delayed because we had to wait until the Israeli soldiers allowed us to pass through the checkpoint located at the entrance of Nablus City. This trip took about seven and half-hours, and even though we were tired and hungry we succeeded against all odds including the might of Israeli power. We eventually entered the City of Nablus to continue the final parts of our classes.
I am only but a child. Those long hours of walking on the mountain roads through the village of Till, with the smell of the dust in our noses, our bones ached and our feet full of earth, with hot weather, no water and the carrying of school bags was a heavy load to carry, not just for me but for all the students.
I used to visit my family on Sacrificing Ed (a Muslim holiday). I decided to spend the great holiday with my family, because I had been away from them for months. As usual, most roads were closed, and the Village of Till was occupied, which was the only way to get to my family. I decided to travel the narrow roads, but when we approached till village we noticed Israeli tanks following us. We decided to run towards the mountains. There were also other people with me including elderly and children. I saw some children crying of fear. Their tears were mixed with fear, anguish, and pain. We were determined to pass the mountain. I knew that some of us could pass, but there was concern for the elderly people and the children who were not able to continue running. Soon Israeli soldiers who left their tanks and started their favorite duty of insulting and humiliating Palestinians arrested them. Some of the tanks were driving to follow students up ahead, and as we continued to run they shot us with tear gas canisters, which brought us to the ground. We dropped as the tears from our eyes rolled down our faces due to the burning sensation caused by the gas. We continued to run rapidly with the last drop of breath we had left in us. This was a nightmare of a trip, of suffering and pain, not so much for my self, but for the elderly people and the children. It took 8 hours to get back home to the company of my family.
On another one occasion I remember when we were trying to enter Nablus to get to University, but as always, soldiers occupied all entrances to the City. We had no choice but to try Huwarah checkpoint and ask the soldiers to allow us to enter. The Israeli soldiers not only refused but also started beating some guys who were with us. They forced us to stay in the hot sun for hours. I saw some teachers who were trying to pass the checkpoint to attend their classes, but they were forced to go back. An entire day had passed while we waited to enter the city of Nablus. We missed Nablus and dreamed of getting back into the city. We left our home at sunrise. It was sunset when we finally entered the city.
This one story of the many stories since the beginning of the Israeli siege that has been imposed on us. We used not to be able to see our families unless on the occasions, I can only see my family only on the holidays, so we had to rent students flats, which influenced our financial situation. Transportation between Hebron and Nablus used to cost 25 NIS. Now, it costs my family more than 100 NIS to pay for the flat. We are never without troubles and danger.