ARRIVED BACK IN MY BELOVED PALESTINE
I arrived safely today after being held for 5 hours at Ben Gurion Airport. Rather stupidly I had hoped I would get through since I had a new passport and a new number. Obviously it does not work.
As most people are aware, I take cuddly toys etc to give out to the children in Bethlehem supposedly. To be honest we give them out at checkpoints or on buses that are held up by the Israeli Occupation Forces. It helps to put a smile on their faces and that is what counts.
I also handed out 2 cameras and another 6 to follow shortly by next week. We supply video cameras to give the Palestinians a chance to record the human right violations, and the beatings the IOF hand out to the Palestinians daily. Billin in particular desparately need video cameras because the IOF are coming in at night time. Hence we bought cameras with night time modes.
Been down to East Jerusalem where the Palestinian families have been evicted, they are sleeping on a mattress on the ground now along with Internationals side by side to offer some protection where they can. Oh the joys of working with ISM. Where else would you get a chance to sleep on a mattress on a street corner surrounded by crazy settlers? This for me is how you get to meet the real people, the ordinary people. For me that is what matters more than anything. It also brought back memories of our last time there when the 2 Johns and I slept outside a Palestinians home to try and protect it along with other ISMers. They too were forcibly removed and slept in a tent. That tent has now been destroyed 6 times by the Israeli Police and settlers.
I spent a couple of hours with them but when other internationals arrived I thought I would be better getting a sleep tonight as I have not slept for over 24 hours.
As usual the Police and Airport Security took me away, stripped me and searched all my baggage. After of course finding nothing but cuddly toys and x raying them it was hilarious to see dozens upon dozens of cuddly toys, barbie dolls, fairy outfits coming out the end of their x ray machine.
They escorted me back to the Police and I was informed by them 'DO NOT THINK JUST BECAUSE YOU BRING TOYS WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT YOU REALLY DO".
They then told me that they would catch me and deport me finally. Then told me again
'ISRAEL DOES NOT WANT YOU, WHY DO YOU KEEP COMING BACK'.
Well with a straight face I told them all about how Jesus entered my life and maybe one day they would be lucky enough for him to enter theirs. NO DISRESPECT INTENDED.
JESUS ALSO IS IN MY HEART CONSTANTLY AND BETHLEHEM IS WHERE I MUST GO.
Reason being with the new West Bank Visa, people must say if they intend to visit the West Bank in order to get this. At the moment it is only certain people who are targeted, unfortunately I am one of them and they took my West Bank visa back off me. It also means that if you take a West Bank visa you can be arrested at any time in East Jerusalem because they class that as Israel.
Not sure what problems this will cause for me yet, but will find out tomorrow. As every Palestinian will tell you there are ways around anything. I WILL SOON FIND OUT.
Five hours they held me at the airport and i was upset because they have taken the free coffee machine away now. When you used to be held by security you at least were offered a free cup of coffee. Now you just get told to sit down and shut up.
I could have cried for the families that have been evicted in East Jerusalem tonight. The Police also came and took their tent away and there are 6 mattresses arranged on the street corner facing towards their own houses which the settlers have now taken over.
I was told there are no settlers there at present, they come and go but it is a Security Guard Firm that is protecting the 3 houses they occupied.
Tomorrow is Ramaddan and so far I have been invited to at least 6 houses to break fast and that is only in Jerusalem. The hospitality of the Palestinians is fantastic and second to none.
I shall finish on that note now and tomorrow is a new day and I shall be refreshed. I shall try my luck at the checkpoints without my West Bank visa. If it is only certain people at this time that they are putting restrictions on hopefully the people at the checkpoint won;t know. I shall soon find out.