It seems that the soldiers serving in the West Bank are very bored these days. Put together with their young age, the fear, and the pressure that they are under, this makes for a brewing disaster. Last Saturday I went to a restaurant in Beit Jalla. As I was about to enter, I saw the cars parked outside plastered with eggs. There is an army outpost right across the street from the restaurant. There was an officer inside investigating the incident, which is nice I must say. I talked with the restaurant owner who told me that this is what happens when you put guns in the hands of 18 year old kids and give them a little power.
Then on Friday night I was chatting with my friend who was sitting at a cafe at his village. Suddenly tear gas canisters were shot at the entrance to the cafe and the cafe was filled with tear gas. The soldiers jeep stayed at the entrance to the cafe, making it impossible for the people inside to escape, leaving them inside struggling to breathe. Btw, does this gassing thing ring any bells for anyone by any chance? When he was able to leave, my friend accompanied a pregnant woman and her 2 and 4 year old children to the clinic. They were caught in the tear gas when they were passing outside of the cafe.
Today my friend was buying vegetables at a shop at a near-by village, when soldiers drove up and tried to arrest a 9 year old child. His mother protested, and the soldiers drove away.
In any of these cases, had the Palestinians involved in these humiliating and degrading incidents reacted with rage (as probably any of us living in places where human rights are actually respected would have), people, human beings, could have easily been killed.
The only solution as far as I can see, is for the Palestinian people to have their own country. As difficult as it is to reach this agreement, it's much more difficult to send our children to humiliate other human beings, and for other human beings to endure this kind of treatment. And yes, despite of many extremists on both sides, this is what the majority of the people on both sides want. So why are we allowing the extremists to determine how we live our lives, and to keep us locked in these cycles of violence, fear and hatred?