This is from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz of Monday October 15:
`I still see the two faces of Israel'
When soldiers entered his village, Issa Suf went out to warn the children to go into their houses, and was severely injured by an IDF bullet. Now he is paralyzed, but still retains some hope for the future.
By Joseph Algazy
"Enough of the suffering and the blood that has been shed. I can measure this pain according to what has happened and is happening to me. I'm only a young man, and in one moment, because of one bullet, I became paralyzed in half my body, apparently for the rest of my life," says Issa Suf, a resident of the Palestinian village of Hares. Suf was shot next to his house five months ago, and now lies helpless in his bed.
Hares is a small Palestinian village that lies northwest of Ramallah, and southwest of Nablus, in a region that, fortunately or unfortunately for the 3,000 residents, is a very important strategic point. From Tel Hares ("the watchman's tel," in Arabic), one can get a good view of the Trans-Samaria highway, and below are large reservoirs of water, the feeder area of the Yarkon-Taninim aquifer. The area is rich in riverbeds, springs and wells. In recent years, the settlements have mainly used these water sources, which not by chance were established around them. These settlements include Ariel, Kiryat Netafim, Revava, Barkan, Yakir, Nofim, Kfar Tapuah, Yitzhar and others.
In Hares there are also vestiges dating back to the time of Byzantine rule in the area.
During the Israeli War of Independence in 1948 and the Six-Day War in 1967, thousands of the residents of Hares and other villages in the area moved to the east bank of the Jordan, and became refugees there. Before the present intifada, many of them used to come back to visit relatives during the summer months.
"Israel, mainly the settlers, has not relinquished the dream of uprooting us from here, but this time they won't succeed. We won't let any of the families leave the place, not even for Paradise," say the residents of Hares, after every incident and clash between themselves and the IDF and settlers in the area.
During this intifada, there have been three "shahids" (Islamic martyrs, as those who carry out suicide missions are called) in Hares. The bald spots in the lands around the village testify to the hundreds of trees, mainly olive trees, uprooted by IDF bulldozers as a result of stone-throwing, and of clashes with settlers and soldiers who enter the village and, in certain cases, shoot and throw grenades. The forced unemployment the roadblocks cause and the closures damage the residents' quality of life, and their daily routine has become completely disrupted.
Last Sunday, in the afternoon, soldiers piled large quantities of rocks and earth on the road at the entrance to the village; the next morning, they removed them.
"In the face of our stubbornness, I wouldn't be surprised if one day, when Israel discovers that they can't remove us from here by force, they will offer every family in Hares perhaps $100,000 if only they leave," estimated one of the residents.
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Issa Suf returned to his home in the village about a month ago. He was hospitalized in Amman after his injury from an IDF bullet four-and-a-half months ago. He lies in bed, his lower body paralyzed. In order to move, he uses a device hanging from the ceiling. He has to move his limbs often in bed, in order to prevent bedsores; occasionally, one of his relatives massages his entire body. Sometimes family members or friends sit him in a wheelchair and take him out to the back yard to take in some air. Because he is incontinent, at fixed intervals, he is transferred to the wheelchair and brought to the bathroom. He complains of strong pains in his lower limbs.
Issa Suf's house is near the homes of his parents and his brothers, in the western part of Hares. His father, Naif Suf, invested most of his life and strength in removing rocks and boulders from his land, on which he grows olives, dates, pomegranates and sabra cactuses, as well as other fruit. From his two wives, he has six daughters and nine sons. Some of his sons work outside the village.
Their neighbors describe them as a cohesive family, whose children are always willing to help others. The eldest son, Nawaf Suf (Abu Rabia), is the Palestinian representative on the Israeli-Palestinian Joint Liaison Committee in the Salfit region.
Issa, who completed a course in journalism, worked for a while at an advertising company in Nablus. After taking a sports course, he served for several years as a physical education teacher. He learned his fluent Hebrew during the days when he worked at the Shamir Salads warehouse at the settlement of Barkan.
Suf has no past record of arrests for security reasons. During the Gulf War, he said, he was caught during the curfew walking to buy milk for the children, was detained for 11 days in Tul Karm, and was fined NIS 500. During the present intifada, his main job was public relations and providing information for Israeli and foreign journalists. He also helped his brother, Nawaf, in coordinating visits of solidarity missions from Israel, which transferred deliveries of food and medicine to the Palestinian villages that are suffering from shortages because of the closures.
On the day before he was injured, Issa Suf had been the one who coordinated the transfer of a delivery of food from Israel to the villages of Marda and Kiri. The Israelis involved in bringing in food knew him well, and therefore, the day after he was injured, 400 people held a protest vigil in front of the Defense Ministry in the Kirya in Tel Aviv, and declared, "We are all Issa Suf!"
Last week, Suf told of the circumstances of his injury.
"In Hares, there are many little children," he began. "During these dangerous days of shooting and tear gas, their parents have a hard time keeping them shut up inside the house. At the beginning of any incident with soldiers and settlers, the adults rush to bring the children home so they won't be hurt.
"That day, May 15, at about 10 a.m., when I was at the home of my brother, Raad, who works at a carpentry shop at the entrance to the village, he called me on his cell phone and told me that he had seen soldiers entering the village. He asked me to hurry and bring in all the little children who were outside their homes. I went out in order to bring home Raad's little son, Ahmed, who is three years old, and also called aloud to the women to go outside and bring their children into the houses.
"From the place where I was standing, a few meters from the house, I heard volleys of shots, but I still didn't see who was shooting. Because of the shots, I shouted loudly at the children who were still outdoors, and told them to go home quickly, when suddenly I felt a bullet hit me from the side, in the right shoulder.
"I barely managed to walk two or three steps toward the door, and I collapsed on the path. Only then did I see that, from the direction of the path that goes down toward the house, two soldiers were approaching me, spraying volleys from their weapons in all directions. One of them was a redhead and the other was dark. The redhead approached me, and while I was still lying wounded on the floor, kicked me in the foot and said, `Get up! Get up!'
"I tried to get up, but I couldn't. I tried to move one of my feet with my hands, but I didn't succeed. I told the soldier who had kicked me that I couldn't get up. I also began to feel that I was having trouble breathing. The next day in the hospital, the doctors explained that the bullet which hit me penetrated a lung, and caused an internal hemorrhage that put pressure on the lungs.
"My younger brother, Abed, called me on the cell phone I was holding, and told me that he had received information that in our neighborhood someone had been injured, and he asked me to go and help the wounded man. I told my brother that the injured man he was telling me about was me, and asked him to find some vehicle to bring me to the hospital, since I couldn't move and was having trouble breathing.
"The redhead grabbed the cell phone, took out the battery, and threw the two parts on the floor. When the dark soldier noticed that people, including my father, Naif, and my mother, Tamam, were running to the place where I was lying, he threw stun grenades at them in order to prevent them from approaching me. Then I turned to the redheaded soldier and said to him in Hebrew, `Be humane, and leave, so that my family can approach me and help me.' Slowly my vision became blurred, too.
"My cousin, who is also called Abed Suf, came with a car, and despite the threats of the soldiers, came up to the place where I was lying, and with the help of others, put me into the car and took me to the neighboring village. From there, unconscious, I was taken by ambulance to the Rafidia Hospital in Nablus. The doctors told my family that the delay in bringing me to the hospital had greatly aggravated my condition. When I returned to consciousness, the doctors put a tube into my chest and drew out the blood that had collected there."
On the fifth day of his hospitalization in Nablus, his doctors discovered that the bullet that had penetrated Suf's body had disintegrated in the area between the eighth and the ninth vertebrae, and that they didn't have the equipment to treat him. They transferred him to the Al Ordon hospital in Amman. There, in a complicated operation, they removed parts of the bullet from his body, but not all of them in order to prevent damage to additional vital organs. From there he was transferred to the King Hussein Medical Center for physiotherapy. Now they are considering the possibility of sending him to a hospital abroad for further treatment.
Issa Suf, now 30 years old, is married and the father of an infant named Vard ("Flower"), who was a month-a-half old on the day his father was injured. Despite the harsh events and his injury, he has not lost hope that the bloodshed will end.
"From where I am," he said, pointing to his bed, "in the miserable situation in which I am living, I haven't stopped distinguishing between good and evil, between an occupier and a guest. I have not stopped seeing the two faces of Israel. Unfortunately, the good people in Israel - those who know how to distinguish between good and evil and between justice and injustice - are few, very few. The others, those who want everything for themselves and don't care if the other suffers and dies, are the great majority.
"Every time I think, like now, for example, that something good is about to come about, your [Prime Minister] Sharon comes and destroys it. I am convinced that the key to peace is in the hands of the Israeli people. They are the only ones who can solve the problem."
I fully support Israel's right to exist peacefully and securely, but I just wanted to post this article to illustrate the hardships the innocents among the Palestinian people are going through, partly Israel's, PA's and Islamic militant's fault.