Something happened yesterday

By Robin

Apologies for not writing for a while. I’ve been here a little over a month now, and there are a million things I’d like to write about – some happy, some much less so. However, something happened yesterday that has left me pretty shaken, and I wanted to try to explain how it felt, so, for now, I’m not going to talk about anything else that’s been going on. Read the ISM website ( for a general sense of the kinds of things I’m doing – every report on there is of something that one or more of us has witnessed.

On Monday, in Qarawat Bani Hassan, near Salfit, a group of Israeli settlers, guarded by the Israeli military, poured cement and sand into a natural spring, used by local Palestinian farmers and shepherds. Those are the simple facts of what happened (there’s a report about this on our website)

These facts, and the shaky video, filmed from afar, which was all we were able to capture before being stopped by the soldiers, fail to communicate just how awful a moment this was. That’s not to say that such things are unusual in the West Bank – they’re not – but every time you see anything like this, it breaks your heart and makes you want to scream with anger.

Last Friday, I was part of a large group of Palestinians and internationals who worked for many hours clearing the area around this spring to make it more accessible, and to create an area that the village could be proud of. To have to then stand by and watch as the work was systematically undone, and the spring perhaps irrevocably destroyed, was hard to take.

I’ve heard many people say that it’s unfair to blame individual soldiers or settlers for what they do – they are brought up and educated in a certain way, and believe that their actions are necessary for the security and survival of their state. At times, I can begin to believe, at least in the case of the soldiers, that this is true. However, when I see them standing guard as settlers, who are there illegally in the first place, wreck a natural spring, I refuse to believe that they could possibly think that what they’re doing is anything but oppression.

This is the true evil of the occupation. The constant drip of nastiness that aims to make life intolerable for the Palestinians. It is irrelevant whether, in a given instance, the perpetrator is a settler or a soldier – they are in such close collusion with one another that they become, to all intents and purposes, indistinguishable.

I woke up in tears this morning, thinking about what I saw yesterday. I will have to leave the West Bank when my Israeli visa expires, and then I will go home and no longer have to see the constant reminders of what is being done here.  For the Palestinian population, there will be no such respite. Soldiers and settlers will continue to destroy their springs, their land, their homes, their lives. Until the populations of Israel and the rest of the world wake up to how truly despicable this is, I don’t know where to look for hope.