As I sit in my house in Haifa, quarantined, like others around the world, I cannot help but recall a previous experience under Israeli-imposed curfew.
Eighteen years ago, during March and April of 2002, the Israeli army re-invaded the West Bank, including the city in which I was residing at the time, Ramallah. For months, we remained under lockdown as Israeli tanks, jeeps and soldiers terrorized our streets and homes.
We spent the days hearing about the rising death toll and worried about what the future would hold. While the initial action was met with international condemnation, soon the lockdown – and the terror of Israel’s army – became “normal.” Few raised their voices at Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians and all of the accompanying land confiscations and home demolitions undertaken by the army.
Today is no different. While the world is rightfully focused on “flattening curves” and “physical distancing,” with coping under a halted economy and worrying about loved ones, Israel’s occupation and systemic racism continue to guide policy – just as they have throughout history
I live with my elderly parents, one of whom has a number of serious health issues, including respiratory problems. Like others, I worry about them, and, of course, my young son.
But I also have to think about my friends in the West Bank, at the mercy of the whims of the Israeli military as well as unrestrained and violent settlers living in occupied territory in violation of international law.
I have to worry about my friends in “hiding” because Israel has never allowed them to live normally in their country because they hold West Bank identity cards. I worry about whether they will be picked up while on the way to the grocery store and whether they will be allowed access to care, if needed.