'Awarta, Mon 11.4.11, Afternoon
After hearing about the damage to two homes inAwarta last night, we went to see for ourselves. One of the homes was empty of its contents because the soldiers broke and shattered all they came across, which was everything. I’m trying to remember all the important items we found in the dumpster after they’d been removed from the house: television set, dishes, bags of rice mixed with oil, sugar, broken glass. There was also a broken, dismantled wardrobe, torn clothes, broken chairs and tables.
Inside the house we saw a new refrigerator which, according to our host, had been purchased a few months earlier, on which they were still making payments, whose doors had been damaged and wouldn’t close. The washing machine was broken. Also a gas cooking stove. Giant blue containers of oil stand empty after the oil, enough to last a year, had been spilled mercilessly on the floor. There were no beds, mattresses – nothing, nothing at all, not a thing, only a basket of tomatoes under the sink, red with shame at what took place 24 hours earlier.
The unfortunate children, men and women of the family don’t know what to do in their despair, live in fear. Our host, whose family it is, left work to tell us what happened and show us the sight. His eyes filled with tears as he spoke. He says: You’re carrying out your mission, and I’m carrying out mine.”
Outside, we photographed a pile of stun grenades to remember last night. I have one of them in my bag.
In the second house everything had been overturned – they apparently left it as it was as documentation. The wife, a 37-year-old woman, is very depressed. Last night they took her husband, her two sons and her 14-year-old daughter. She’s particularly worried about the daughter because of the men who’ve been arrested – she’s not used to that, of course. While we were there the mother fainted and it was hard to revive her. When she recovered, she told us: “The soldiers came into the house and said they wanted to take G. (the 14-year-old daughter).” G. cried to her mother: “Mother, I’m afraid, don’t let them take me.” G. fled to the neighbor’s house, the soldiers chased her, grabbed her violently and put her in the jeep. G. cried and begged, “Let my mother come with me,” but the soldiers refused.
All the household members were taken outside, barefoot and in their nightclothes. They were told: “You have 20 seconds to get out.” Neighbors gave shoes to some of them; the others were driven away somewhere, still barefoot. She thinks that was about 04:00; it was cold out, but no one cared. G.’s mother has a baby girl who’s about a year old – she was taken to the neighbor’s house along with the other members of the household. The mother twice asked to be allowed to nurse her, but was refused.
This experience was extremely difficult for us. After the mother recovered from her faint, she asked us to remain to sleep there because she was afraid to stay home alone, and believed we could protect her. The entire family is taking care of her; she appears to be in a very bad state. They don’t stop talking about what happened, repeating the story. Some are angry, not understanding. Others are so sad that they’re having chest pains.
We left, despondent and ashamed, unable to help – able only to be there with them, for them.