Sunday, July 8, 2007

Closed Military Zone

I write quickly because most of my other work is taking up time. I promise there will be more to come - so don't get bored of me yet. I have tons of content!!!

Nablus - my dear Nablus - I have finally gotten to the city I fell in love with when I visited it last year. A city of ~200,000 people, it is known for three things (they jokingly say): 1) Soap, 2) Kanafe and 3) that those in Nablus are gay. Nabulsi, the word for one from Nablus is another way of saying "ah, he likes men!". Maybe it's their social nature, maybe it's their friendliness -- either way, it's a wonderful city. The sort of place that as you walk through the old city someone will come up to you and say "welcome in Nablus" and offer you some peanuts to eat out of a bag -- then if you smile in response, you get the whole bag of peanuts as a present. You CANNOT stop the people here from giving you all the respect and hospitality. This despite the fact that the number of people living in poverty is now over 60% (yes, I will get you cites).

Maybe it's a social city because no one leaves the city much. It's certainly not exciting to leave, as when I tried to yesterday and was threatened with having my camera smashed by a 19 year old soldier. I'm foreigner though - for the Nabulsis the situation at present is much different. The city has been declared a "closed military zone". This may sound innocuous enough and in an era where all you hear in the Western media is a story of Palestinian sovereignty the idea doesn't make sense. Here is what it means - there are six checkpoints surrounding the city. You can't go in or out without passing through a post guarded by heavily armed soldiers, surrounded by sniper towers, and policed by brutal soldiers who frequently shoot civilians when frustrated. The current closure on the city means that no one under the age of 35 can leave the city if they possess a Nablus ID. Some place to vacation, huh?

More to come...

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