Last night I was playing chess in the shisha cafe across from Al Quds Red Crescent, where I am sure to find a familiar face and where they seem to have got over me being a girl in amongst the shebab, when I got a text from the south. “Our friends J and L were trying to fix the asbestos sheeting on their farmhouse roof in Faraheen today…” it began.
I knew immediately that this message wasn’t going to end well, and it didn’t. Apparently at 12 midday, 3 jeeps stopped, and soldiers opened fire from one on J and L up on the roof of their own home, firing about ten bullets. J and L tried to escape quickly down the stairs; and L, who has a bad right leg, fell, breaking one of the metatarsal bones in her left foot. Now she has a heavy plaster cast all the way from her toes to her knee.
When E and I visited them this morning in the rented house in the village, L was looking immobilised but determinedly cheerful, and sent us off to check on J, working at the farmhouse (being a farmer, he has little choice)having already been under fire again today. Assuming the Israeli soldiers cared enough about who they are shooting at to bother checking, they would be able to confirm that J worked for years as an engineer (in fact as an inventor if we understand correctly) half of every week in Israel. He is no threat to them, unless by his mere existence as a nonviolent Palestinian who loves his land.
I asked J something I’d always meant to - how L’s right leg was injured. It is twisted in a way that gives her an extremely pronounced limp, and I’d guessed it had been that way since birth. I was wrong.
During the First Intifada (Resistance to Israeli occupation), there had been a nonviolent demonstration in L’s village, beside her school, and the schoolchildren took part. L was 15. When Israeli soldiers started shooting tear gas into the crowd, L apparently decided they clearly couldn’t be trusted with weapons. She and her friend Asan walked up to the nearest soldier, confiscated his M16 and threw it to the ground. A second soldier immediately killed her friend and shot L in the leg. Considering how I finished my second last blog post, this story really had me looking at L with new respect. I thought about it; at half my age, she actually did it.
J insisted on driving us back to the village house, with his two little daughters, in the rickety trailer of a tiny tractor, one of the few working pieces of machinery recent attacks have left him. I kept being convinced I was about to tumble out.
“I’m too old for this sort of thing,” I said.
“I only got in because he winked!” replied E.
“As the actress said to the bishop,” I muttered, clinging on.