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May 28, 2024 28 mins

Shereen talks with nurse and street medic Eva about her experience on the ground in Palestine.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
All Zone media.

Speaker 2 (00:06):
Hello and welcomed to It could happen here. This is
Sharene and today is part one of a two part
series where we talked to someone who was on the
ground in Palestine, in both Lesse and the West Bank.
I'm going to say Lesday because that's how you say
in Arabic, but that means gaza for those who are unfamiliar.
Ever since Israel began bombing the people of Lesa in

(00:26):
October of last year, it has been virtually impossible for
AID to get into Lesse. Both the Israeli government and
its citizens, acting on their own initiative, have blocked AID convoys,
destroyed life saving medical and food aid, and harassed people
for supplying aid. AID workers who even can get into

(00:47):
Rasse have been bombed, shot at and killed. And it's
not just AID that can't get into Lessee. It's extraordinarily
hard for information to even get out. Cell Phone signal
is scarce, and understandably people there use it to contact
their families, not foreign journalists. So to get a good
sense of what life is like on the ground. In

(01:09):
the Dafa, we spoke to Ava, one of the mutual
aid volunteers who at great risk to her own life,
traveled into lesday to help the people there.

Speaker 3 (01:18):
My name is Ava. I am a nurse and street medic.
I'm Jewish of European ancestry and was raised in Pacific Northwest,
on the traditional lands of the Chinook, Tualitan and Clackamas
and many other First nations what is commonly called Portland organ.

Speaker 2 (01:35):
Ava was able to send us some voice notes describing
her day to day back in April. She told us
what she saw, what she experienced, what she heard. Understandably,
there is some background noise in some of this audio,
but I personally think it helps ground us in the
moment that she's experiencing.

Speaker 3 (01:52):
So here I am the morning of Friday, April nineteenth.
This is the start of my second day in Lazza.
I spent a full day yesterday at Aja Hospital in
the emergency department, getting introduced to the staff there. The work,
the equipment, the patterns of illness and injury, the shortages, struggles,

(02:19):
the pain, the happiness is really quite beautiful and hard,
and a mashup of everything I've experienced in occupation, things
I've experienced as a new nurse to a floor, and
things I haven't experienced before, which is being a site
of an active war zone and genocide. Ajar Hospital is

(02:41):
located very close to the Rafa border crossing. It's also,
I guess, one of the areas more heavily impacted by
violence right now in Rafa, which is still much less
so than areas to the north like Communis, et cetera.

Speaker 2 (03:00):
We asked Ava to explain the situation in the Dapha
at the time of this recording and where she was
within it. The following conversation with Ava took place on
April twenty ninth.

Speaker 3 (03:10):
I mean, I will first locate myself on Cla, which
is the only part of Flaza that I have ever seen,
and I have only been in the Gaza during the
last two weeks. I've been in Palestine twice. This is
my first time in this area, and I haven't seen
Adina Haza. I haven't seen a hone yness. I haven't

(03:32):
seen the destruction up there, and I think that that
is from the people who I have met who are
refugees from those areas, healthcare workers, members of the public.
There's really uh oh yeah, that's just a moto. Sorry.
There's a lot of rumblings and things that happened periodically,
and a lot of them are explosions that I think

(03:54):
is just a motor but yeah, I mean it's it's
really interesting because I arrived at a when food stuffs
had just started to cross in a little bit more regularly,
and I was told that basically in the week before,
like street markets had reoccurred, which hadn't been a thing
for months, And that's like a big part of my

(04:15):
experience in the West Bank. And so it was really
great to see people, even if it was just like
a little bit of food selling food on the street.
Starting to see bread being baked and distributed, seeing people
out and about was exciting. There is rampant signs of
destruction everywhere. There are lots of standing buildings, but there
are lots of piles of rubble in streets the sites

(04:41):
of former buildings. People have done a remarkable job clearing space,
but there's sense of destruction everywhere, and I think in
some ways the most painful sites are where buildings aren't
completely destroyed and you can see into people's bedrooms, kitchens,
bathroom and things like that, see artwork still hanging, seek

(05:03):
fragrants of their homes and lives. There are tent cities everywhere.
I am currently speaking to from within a house that
is one of the houses that are rented by NGOs
in the area from generally people who have managed to
escape that'sa and who are renting their homes for a

(05:23):
bit of income and to decrease the likelihood their house
will be bombed. And in this particular house, we're in
the neighborhood of Tel Sutan, and there are tense cities
all around us. So it's one of those weird situations
of staying in a somewhat palatial home where there are
people sleeping in very rudimentary tents and structures, sometimes completely

(05:48):
uncovered in one hundred plus degree weather. I think the
highest temperatures we've seen where a couple of days where
it was about four to eight degrees centigrade, which is
about one o seven fahrenheit. There are a lot of
sick people, a lot of struggling people.

Speaker 2 (06:05):
Longtime listeners of the podcast will remember our interview with
Tadic Lobani, one of the inventors of the three D
printed tourniquet, as well as the founder of Glia, a
medical aid charity. Ava, who was also a medical professional,
is working with them.

Speaker 3 (06:22):
I've been working with an organization called Glia that works
with primary care clinics and with maternity and like natal clinics,
and has also been starting to work with at least
one emergency department. And I've been working at the hospital
al Naja, which is used to basically be a community
tertiary hospital with basically an urgent care clinic, that has

(06:48):
basically become the only remaining general public emergency department in
the RAA. There are other there's like an maternity emergency department,
hospital department, there's an emergency department run by MSF and
like these other ones, but like this is the only
general public one. And I've been there just you know,
for two weeks most every day to day off when

(07:09):
I was sick and took off the day to day
to see some different parts of some other clinics, which
is really good comparison.

Speaker 2 (07:16):
We asked Ava what kind of injuries she sees and
what the medical situation is like in the l's.

Speaker 3 (07:21):
But I will say that it's wild the variety of
you know, injuries and illnesses that you'll see in that space.
That is true of any emergency department. But depending on
the hours, I have foundering the day. Most of the
illnesses and injuries are more usual except exacerbated by the
lack of resources, lack of primary caricter resources la celebated

(07:44):
by the lack of medications, exacerbated by the lack of
clean water and sanitation. Occasionally injuries like from bombings or
shootings at night when I have not been there. I
have heard of many missile strikes, whype, we got entire families,

(08:08):
large numbers of people murdered. I have seen, you know,
several people killed in that way come to the emergency deburbon,
but in no way representative of what's been happening, and
it's been a vi all account better these weeks than
it has been before, though number of missile strikes and
things are kind of increasing. There has been word given

(08:28):
that there is likely going to be evacuation orders starting
in the next in this next few days to a
week from the Israelis, but no signs of an immediate inclusion.
That said, we don't know. Most people are pretty hopeful
of that that I've talked to, that a ceasefire will
be reached, although it's unclear what that would mean. But

(08:50):
I can say from my time working in these hospitals
that and just being in the community that like most
people are hanging on by a thread, whether they have
just gotten something very loosely resembling a hint of stability,
of like having a place where they are having access
to food. There are children playing, there are you know,

(09:11):
some some of the signs of life that I'm used
to seeing in Palestine. There are emergency departments that are
somewhat functional. They're like my colleague is working at a
NICU where it's always full, but they are able to
care for the babies that are there, even not as
well as they would like to, but like they are
able to if this population is displaced again, which is

(09:33):
what the Israelis are suggesting in this case, towards con
units which they've leveled, and they are trying to get
the international community to set up ten cities there. That
will kill a lot of people, that will tear apart
a lot of what little people had left. So very
very difficult in that way. That said, it's also more

(09:54):
alive than I expected. There's more signs of daily life,
life of children playing, of people making and serving coffee
in the street of a couple of bakerries are producing
you know, all those pieces like flawhel SAMs like those
things exist coast of food or atrocious We don't, you know,

(10:16):
buy food here, but I'm aware of some of the prices,
and they are much higher than they would be in
the West Bank, where food is you know, not on Embarco.

Speaker 2 (10:25):
For those who aren't super familiar, the West Bank refers
to the West Bank of Jordan. It stretches across the
eastern border of Israel, along the west banks of the
Jordan River and most of the Dead Sea. It was
designated as its own region when Israel established itself and
ethnically cleansed Palestine in nineteen forty eight, but it has
been eaten away to a massive amount. In nineteen sixty seven,

(10:48):
it was occupied during the Six Day War, and during
the nineteen seventies and eighties, Israel began establishing settlements there,
which was and is still illegal under international law, and
even with protests from the international community, Israel continues still
today to establish settlements on Palestinian land. The first major

(11:09):
Arab uprising aka the First Intifada, also referred to as
the Stone Intifada, began in nineteen eighty seven in the
Gaza Strip and spread to the West Bank. It ended
in nineteen ninety three with the signing of the First
Oslo Accords. The Second Intifada, also known as the Usa Antifada,
was another major Arab uprising by Palestinians against the Israeli occupation.

(11:33):
During the twenty tens, the Fatah dominated Palestinian authority worked
toward establishing itself as an independent government in the urban
Palestinian areas of the West Bank. At the same time,
Israel expanded its settlement activity in the territory. FUTA, formerly
the Palestinian National Liberation Movement, is a Palestinian nationalist and
social democratic political party. It is the largest faction of

(11:57):
the confederated multi party Palestine Life Biation Organization and the
second largest party in the Palestinian Legislative Council. PATTA has
been closely identified with the leadership of its founder and chairman,
Yasser Arafat, who was elected chairman of the PLO in
Cairo in February nineteen sixty nine until his death in
two thousand and four. In May twenty twenty one, Palestinian

(12:38):
families in Schechestradra, a neighborhood and occupied East Jerusalem began
protesting against Israel's plan to forcibly evict them from their
homes to make way for Jewish settlers. Many of the
families were refugees who had settled in Schechtradra after being
forcibly displaced around the time of Israel's establishment as a
state in nineteen forty eight. Since Israel occupied the East

(13:00):
Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank in nineteen
sixty seven, Palestinians and Schechterrara had been continuously targeted by
Israeli authorities, who used discriminatory laws to systematically dispossess Palestinians
of their land and homes for the benefit of Jewish Israelis.
The events of May twenty twenty one were emblematic of
the oppression which Palestinians have faced every day for decades.

(13:24):
The discrimination, the dispossession, and the repression of descent, the
killings and injuries, they are all a part of a
system which is designed to privilege Jewish Israelis at the
expense of Palestinians. This is apartheid, which is, as you
should know, prohibited an international law. In twenty twenty one,
Amnesty International reported that Israel imposes a system of oppression

(13:47):
and domination against Palestinians across all areas under its control
in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, and against Palestinian
refugees in order to benefit Israelis laws, policies, and practices
which are intended to maintain a violent system of control
over Palestinians have left them fragmented geographically and politically, frequently impoverished,

(14:11):
and in a constant state of fear and insecurity, with
no freedom of movement or freedom's period. And then there's
Israel's Apartheid Wall, which began as a fence along the
border between the West Bank and what is called Israel.
It was first constructed by Israel in nineteen seventy one
as a security barrier and it has been rebuilt and

(14:31):
upgraded since. It was constructed by Israel to control the
movement of the Palestinian population as well as goods between
the Gaza Strip and Israel. So that's some history on
the West Bank, and just for some context, twenty twenty
three was the deadliest year for Palestinians since the United
Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs AOCHA began

(14:55):
recording casualties in two thousand and five. Since the Gaza genocide,
Israel has stepped up military raids in the West Bank,
where violence had already been surging for over a year.
UN records show that Israeli forces or settlers have killed
hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank since October seventh.
In twenty twenty three, at least five hundred and seven

(15:17):
Palestinians were killed, including at least eighty one children. Between
October seventh and December thirty first, twenty twenty three, two
hundred and ninety nine Palestinians were killed in the West Bank,
marking a fifty percent increase compared to the first nine
months of the year. According to the World Health Organization,
since October seventh, four hundred and seventy four Palestinians, including

(15:41):
one hundred and sixteen children, have been killed in the
West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, and about five thousand
were injured. There are many days where Israeli forces killed Palestinians,
but I'm going to refer to a couple just to
give you a general idea of the violence the Palestinians experience.
On March twenty five, first, there was a day when

(16:01):
Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in separate incidents in the
occupied West Bank, resulting in ten Palestinians killed in the
territory over a twenty four hour period. This was reported
by the Palestinian news agency WEFA. On April twentieth, Israeli
forces killed fourteen Palestinians during a raid in the occupied
West Bank, including an ambulance driver who was killed as

(16:24):
he went to pick up wounded Palestinians from a separate
attack by violent Israeli settlers. Erica Guavera Rosas, Amnesty International's
director of Global Research, Advocacy and Policy.

Speaker 1 (16:35):
Said under the cover of the relentiss bombardment and atrosty
crimes in Gaza, Israeli forces have unleashed unlawful lethal force
against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, carrying out unlawful
killings and displaying a chilling disregard for Palestinian lives. These
unlawful killings are in blatant violation of international human rights

(16:56):
law and are committed with impunity in the context of
maintaining iss institutionalized regime, the systematic oppression and domination over Palestinians.

Speaker 2 (17:16):
Because Ava has experience in both clus in the West Bank.
I wanted to ask what she witnessed while in the
West Bank. Here's Ava telling us about her experience.

Speaker 3 (17:25):
Specifically, I was working with the International Solidarity Movement, which
is the same group I worked with when I was
in Palestine twelve years ago. And that's basically exactly what
it sounds like. It's a vaguely anarchist and her socialist
and our communist informed assembly of most the internationals with
this s mattering of Palestinians and a couple Israeli activists.

(17:48):
I was in the West Bank this round from the
end of January until I came to Gaza, which was
halfway through April, so basically two and a half months.
Most people who volunteer there it's anywhere from like two
or three weeks to two or three months. Because of
tourist visa last that long, and that's usually the most

(18:11):
you can expect. During this time I was there, Ism
and other solidarity organizations got to be a topic of
much discussion in the Israelikan essets, as they got very
excited about the dangerous anarchists in the South. There's a
lot of interesting converisons between the West Bank and.

Speaker 2 (18:28):
Gaza, Palestinian people are divided by the State of Israel
into two areas, with two separate governments and two different
experiences of occupation. We asked Ava what people in Redsiday
had to say about the situation for those living in
the West Bank, where settler colonialism spreads every single day.

Speaker 3 (18:45):
Maybe I'll start VI saying, when I rolled into Gaza
and met members from the Health of Ministry and like
they're like, oh, you speak some Arabic, particular in Arabic,
and I was like in the West Bank and they're like, oh,
it's so hard there. And I was like really, and
they were like, yeah, you know, I mean obviously, like
the war, which is what they call the genocide you
usually hear too, has been very hard, but like before that,

(19:07):
like they have to live under a different version of
occupation or direct version of occupation every day. And I
thought that that just like touched something intense in me
and like was really like a big I don't know,
it just affected me a lot. But as far as
like comparisons, there are parts of the West Bank that
feel independent, that you feel like, oh, I'm in an

(19:30):
area that is, you know where ostensibly are not supposed
to see Israelis, and if they are there, they're like
my friend who just lives in, you know, lives with
her husband who's Palestinian, and they hang out there and
are fine most of the time. But a lot of
these areas that I spent almost of my time are
areas where there's more direct contact constantly between settlers, soldiers

(19:54):
and the Palestinian community who are often in those areas,
like we're in rural and it's like a very different
scale of genocide. I often talk about that as like
a slower genocide, and this is a faster genocide here
in Gassa, but it's like no less horrible. It ends
up being like a person a person, and like parcel

(20:16):
of land, a parcel of land Palestinian heard of sheep
is rarely heard of sheep, herd of sheep, And it
sounds like very parallel, except that the Palestinians have been
shepherding there for generations or hundreds of years. And the
settlers there, some of them, most of them are like teenagers,
war dropouts and like get in trouble all the time,
and then they're brought up there at this community service

(20:39):
and some of them know how to shepherd, and some
of them don't, but they use it as an opportunity
to graze their animals on like Palasinian wheat fields.

Speaker 2 (20:46):
Settler colonialism isn't just a vague concept or a way
of looking at the past in Palestine. It's something that
happens almost every single day. The violent displacement of Palestinian people,
which began with the Nekba, has never really stopped, and
the families in the West Bank experience their own nekbas
every time their land is stolen. That's why volunteers like

(21:08):
Ava go there to be in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
We asked Ava what the process of appropriation looks like
on the ground.

Speaker 3 (21:16):
They stand somewhere, get confrontational with the Palestinians, with the international,
and it's really solidarity activists. They get the police to
and soldiers who arrest people and harass people. They occasionally
fire at and sometimes kill or sairly injure Palestinians, less
commonly at jenab Or. It's really octivists. After the seventh

(21:43):
all across the West Bank. Initially, a lot of the settlers,
as I understand I, responded by kind of clamping down
security concerns and then very quickly turned it into an
opportunity for attack and turned up at villages like the
village of Zenuta and just were like which had like
about one hundred fanms and was like, you don't leave,
We're going to kill you all. And so people left

(22:05):
and it was a credible threat and they did kill
a lot of people. I think that's the largest village
I've heard of recently. They disappeared other places. People ran
away and their homes were destroyed, their animals were taken.
People come back and their cars get torched. They get
arrested on no charges and held for longer than ever

(22:27):
and in many cases or torture to death. I have
a friend and comrade that I organized up a little
bit who was in Janine at the start, right after
October seventh, and she witnessed truly horrific you know, targeted
killings by drone strikes and other things, and basically fled
south so she would be okay and physically. So that's

(22:51):
some of what has happened. Most of the villages that
historically have had the like nonviolent weekly protests, which a
lot of people who in the past and volunteered like
as you know, internationals, we'll have experience with and like
there's a lot of the popular images of like youth
in Kafias during stones or at some of those sites.

(23:11):
Since October seventh, almost all of the villages stopped as
far as I know, because it was too dangerous. When
I arrived, I was told all of the villages had stopped.
But then we found out part way that there was
a village that was having protests kofor Katum on the
northern half of the West Make and it turns out
when I went there, they'd never stopped. They protested each week.

(23:34):
They did scale back what their goals were because whereas
in the past they had been many of them had
been shot with lve ammunition like twenty two caliber rifles.
Since the seventh it basically became all land ammunition. And
only by the grace of God or luck were none
of them murtyred in that time because the soldiers were

(23:55):
not shooting at ankles as is the conventional guidance. I
saw video of them shooting into buildings, into homes, shooting
at head height, things like that, and like the week
before I went, but guy was shot in the face
and he only survived because it deflected down through his
Johns diadive into his skull. So they've experienced a lot
of severe oppression there. There's been hundreds killed in the

(24:18):
West Bank just since October seventh. There is active fighting
in parts of the north of like kind of Jinine
and I think until Karen and some other places between
some armed resistance and Surli soldiers. But it's definitely not
at the same scale as in Laza, and there aren't
like active bombs falling on people. But it's you know,

(24:41):
still murderous. It's still driving people out, it's still squeezing
people to they either lash out or leave.

Speaker 2 (24:48):
I mean, it's it honestly sounds like just a repeat
in some way of the Nekaba, you know, like that's
just what happened. It is a little maybe a little slower, like.

Speaker 4 (24:57):
You said, like a slower genocide, right, Yeah, it never
really stopped. It's been a slow genoside for like seventy
six years. In addition to ongoing colonization, the economic conditions
in the West Bank make life hard for people there.
But this does not stop people in the West Bank
from being in solidarity with the people of Ze.

Speaker 3 (25:17):
When I was in the West Bank. I will also
say like, and I've shared this with many people here
on Gaza, like I would be in a tiny one
bedroom house who are very poor. Like people's incomes disappeared
after the Seventh That's another thing. Like a lot of
people made their money by traveling to cities to work,
by working at settlements, things like that. After the Seventh

(25:38):
roads were shut down, people couldn't move. Palestinian workers were
not allowed in settlements, not allowed to cross into forty eight.
So everybody's struggling. But like people are spending twenty four
to seven with like alder Zeerra or like other Palestinia
or Palestinian coverage of what's happening in Gaza, Like people
are right there when Ramadan started. I was there during
the mom of the Ramadan, Like people were like, I'm

(26:00):
so looking forward to feeling hunger along with Gaza, and
like that was another aspect of hearing from the first
Gazins crossing into Gaza, like saying like, oh, it's so
hard over there, We're with them. Like I think there's
a lot of attempts from the Israelis, from liberal Zionists

(26:22):
in the US, from the state and everything to be
like good Palestinian, bad Palestinian, and like all the Palestinians are,
you know, like they might not all agree politically, like
there's many different positions on everything, just as there are
many positions and everything in every community. There's a lot
of empathy between them, and that was another reason I
was really excited to come from the West Bank and
bring like some olive oil and other gifts on behalf

(26:44):
of the community, because people need to know how much
they're loved and thought of. On the other side, I
find it's sad and beautiful how united of the people
are the Palestinians across the tremendous sistance of and also
incredibly short distance of apartheid and occupation. That they can't
see each other or visit each other, but they feel

(27:05):
for each other and are with each other in their
hearts and just kind of wrects me a little bit.
It's also nice to be near the sea. I haven't
yet seen the sea, but my friend was here very
close and could see it from their house. I just
feel being close to the sea and like see the sunsets,
and that's so incredibly beautiful and sad too, because most
Palestinians don't get to see the sea.

Speaker 2 (27:28):
And that's going to be the end of part one.
In part two, Ava tells us what the process was
like traveling from the West Bank until Lenesday, and she
details her experience being on the ground to the Daffa.
So please tune in to tomorrow's episode to hear more
from Ava. Until then, Repales done.

Speaker 1 (27:52):
It Could Happen Here as a production of cool Zone Media.
For more podcasts and cool Zone Media, visit our website
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You can find sources for It Could Happen Here, updated
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