Monday 13 October 2014

Assault on the School

Sunday 12th October, not only marks the three week point into our Palestinian placement but also our first day teaching. Throughout the days spent here, the presence of the Occupiers has never been too far from sight.
Never have we encountered a direct interaction with Israeli forces until we unknowingly waited in the headmaster’s office at Abu Dis Boys’ School. At first, all was well. We sipped tea and talked to the staff until some unseen and unheard commotion out of the window attracted the attention of two of the teachers. As they became increasingly agitated I asked what events were unfolding outside - “the soldiers are here”.
I barely had chance to stand upon my feet when the first loud cracks signalled the arrival of stun grenades. They were so loud and piercing you could have mistook them for being projected straight at the door of the office.

Like ants reacting to an exterminator’s poison, the school erupted into chaos, with both students and teachers alike running away from the tear gas now seeping from canisters strewn across the playground.

The assault continued as kids ran to the second floor, covering their faces with their school jumpers to avoid the noxious fumes. Even in the office the air began to smell and taste unnatural, as my eyes began to sting and weep.

And the reasoning behind this excessive use of force on schoolchildren and civilians? For throwing rocks at heavily-shielded IDF vehicles occupying their land and who can blame the Palestinians? Wherever they can, they will resist. In doing so, they keep their hope alive.

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