Resistance at Khan Al-Ahmar
Resistance at Khan Al-Ahmar is a gloriously organised thing: one hundred or so people are given food, water, coffee, tea, bed and shelter in what was the school playground and buildings. We lie shoulder to shoulder at night as we stand in the day.
Most of the supporters are Palestinian, many are internationals. It is a good place to come across old friends and to make new ones. I have caught up with news from an Al Khalil contingent, made firmer friends with Wael and his group from Tanweer in Nablus, bumped into a student I met in Nablus last time I was there (a sudden shout of ‘Betty!’). I met a huge group from Footballers for Palestine (so cool, including several young women Celtic supporters) and two women who raise money in the UK to fund enterprises in the villages (goats, sewing machines, pastry businesses).
Everybody knows everybody else it seems. While we stand with Khan Al-Ahmar people also plan trips, projects, campaigns, actions. The atmosphere is not doomladen but massively uplifting.
Rumours have been flying about over the last few days, mostly bad but the most recent one good. Ultimately international pressure is the only thing that will save this village, and indications suggest the Israelis are beginning to bend to it. Please write to your politicians and demand that they stand up against this.
20 October 2018
Two extraordinary days at Khan Al-Ahmar (extraordinary for me), sleeping in a huge tent with a hundred others, Palestinians and internationals, to act as protection and witness to the Israelis’ planned demolition-as much protection and witness as we are able to provide in this place.
We stayed first to attend the Friday demo, which was very violent indeed: peaceful demonstrators stood on one side of the low barrier, with six military police cars on the other, one armoured, the policemen laughing and jeering. Then, completely unprovoked, a mixture of tear gas and pepper spray at very close range and a dozen Palestinian men stagger back and up towards the ambulance and the more cautious demonstrators.
Their eyes stream and are completely red once they have at last managed to open them, their faces are raw and peeled with burning. Small Palestinian boys open wipes, the Palestinian ambulance men (who stayed the night too) apply cream, some of us fan them with cardboard. They lie on the ground, some for half an hour, recovering. Some actually return, faces slathered in calming cream, to the demo below. All our faces are tense with anger or distress.
We are on our way through Ramallah home when a difficult phone call comes to say there are rumours that tonight the Israelis will clear the supporters and the solidarity tent and dump them at the closest checkpoint, and close all phone signal to prevent pictures. We are tired and sticky from end to end, but we return in the dark to sleep there again.
The tent is again full of supporters and friends old and new. We settle to sleep and wake at 6.30. They did not come another night. Khan Al Ahmar fights another day. Six months have passed for this village since the Supreme Court in Israel announced that the army was permitted to move the people away from their land.