e-mail od znajomej znajomej
dear friends old & new
I’ve been meaning to send an update for some time. Since being deported
from Palestine in summer 05, I’ve been living and working in London.
Living in a pretty house in Tower Hamlets overlooking Victoria Park,
with foxes, swaying beech trees and a milkman. Working for PLATFORM, an
inspiring little artsorganization/campaigngroup/thinktank, running a
campaign to stop the Royal Bank of Scotland funding dodgy fossil fuel
On the streets with Climate
Camp and London Coalition Against Poverty, against the petrol-fuelled
juggernaut and Hackney’s outrageous housing practices.
Yet even here, Palestine doesn’t leave you. Last Friday morning at dawn
a friend of mine was shot and left to bleed to death by Israeli soldiers
in Balata Refugee Camp.
When I read the email sent at 10:23am – the email that said “i don’t
know if you heard - ahmed sanaqra was killed yesterday in balata” – my
clenched and hit the wall. As grief and deep deep rage took hold of me,
an inner part of me wanted, needed, to do something immediate and
to shake everything, to pause “normality” with a scream. Yet the world
on as before, with no break in the emails, shopping, fixing a leaking
boiler, meetings. London continues as usual, and on Friday morning a
friend was gunned down - because he said "I will not submit."
Ahmed Sanaqra, nicknamed “Sanquur” by most of Balata, was chatting with
three friends in his family's house early Friday morning. Outside,
undercover Israeli gunmen dressed as Palestinians quietly moved through
the alley, surrounding his house. Spotting Sanquur through the window,
the gunmen opened fire, seriously wounding him. He tried to escape with
his friends, but was too injured to keep moving. The Israelis chased him
down and fired more bullets into his body, before leaving him to bleed
We ran through the alleys together When I lived in Balata, my flat
overlooked the entrance to the camp, and thus most every Israeli
invasion. Sanquur and his friend Bilal would
climb the three stories to my roof to throw bricks and rotten melons
armoured jeeps passing below. The two of them would run right up to the
jeeps' windows, to cover them in paint. When Israeli gunmen tried to
shoot those in the open, Sanquur would take shelter in the alley to my
One day I was standing blocking a jeep from entering the camp, but
decided to step back. As I moved towards the closest alleyway, Sanquur
running from around the corner with a bottle of white paint to throw at
the Israeli jeep (not having realised I was in between him and the
jeep).Unable to grip the bottle, he shouted at me to jump, and gave the
a downwards tilt. I jumped above the shattering glass, escaping with
newly-white boots and Sanquur’s deep apologies. Sanquur can be seen
throwing a better-aimed bottle of paint onto a jeep’s windscreen near
the end of this short video.
Sometimes we ran through the alleys together in the dark, in search of
the invading jeeps. We often ended up sheltering behind the same wall
the soldiers opened fire, and we'd search for stones to throw when
invariably ran out. One evening Sanquur pulled me back harshly into an
alley, just as a volley of bullets hit the wall where I had been
standing, spraying shards of shrapnel and cement at us. A week later, I
explosion as I walked down the main Market Street, and saw Ahmed stand
up and run with blood streaming down his face. An unexploded bomb had
off as he bent to look at it. We bundled him into a car bound for the
Beating the odds of life
Sanquur was eighteen when I was deported. In the 2.5 years since, he
became an armed resistance fighter with widespread support in Balata.
Unlike some other fighters, he refused to be bought off or to submit,
believing that when the Israeli Army invaded Balata's streets and
alleys,the residents of the camp had reason to defend themselves. He
this right to resist could not be signed away in exchange for salaried
jobs as police officers.
Nobody from Balata has carried out a suicide attack since the Abu Ayyesh
and Abu Saleem boys attacked a settlement in the West Bank in spring
2003. Yet the fighters who refuse to submit and continue firing at
tanks and jeeps are systematically hunted down, one by one.
Sanquur survived at least three direct assassination attempts by the
Israeli army. In April 07 his younger brother was killed and Sanquur
shot in the hand and stomach, but he got away by running faster than the
soldiers. While still in intensive care, the army raided the hospital -
Sanquur climbed out of bed and slipped out.
In 2006, the main police station, barely standing after six years of
tank fire, was bulldozed on top of him. Sanquur lay silent in the rubble
three days, forced to drink his own piss, while soldiers stepped on him.
His escape, despite the odds, allowed an unlikely glimmer of hope to
survive in Balata. His survival began to symbolize Balata’s tenacity for
continued struggle, “sumud”. Camp residents clutched tight to the belief
that, unlike everybody else who has been killed or imprisoned, Sanquur
would survive, free.
Carry on fighting
Dreams end. Last Friday, the Israeli Duvdevan unit cornered and executed
Sanquur. I haven’t worked out yet how to grieve when my friends are
blown apart by rockets or receive a bullet in the head, even though it
time and time again. Hani Hashash, Disco Skipper, Mohammed Abu Lel.
My rage wants to consume me, but has no target. Hours after reading that
Sanquur had been executed, fury made me shake as my bus passed through
the City. I don’t want to choke it down, to not feel. bell hooks
rage as “a necessary aspect of resistance struggle” – but what to direct
it at? These feelings don’t translate into writing a letter to my MP,
nor demonstrating or blocking a road. The continuity in daily life fuels
fury, demanding a rupture, a break in our privilege and comfort of pubs,
movies, shops – life and business as usual.
Honestly, I don’t know how to live my grief and rage. The only answer I
have is, if our political struggles are effective and fulfilling, to
throw ourselves into them wholeheartedly. Together with our friends who
still alive and feeling, to hold eachother up and carry on fighting.
Faced with the multiple occupations and oppression of the UK, the US and
Israel, death and murder have been, are and will be felt by many of our
movements for liberation and justice. Mostly, when these struggles take
place in England, we have the privilege of our friends not being gunned
down beside us. Not so in Palestine, Derry and Belfast, Bolivia, Nigeria
or Iraq. We will lose more friends. There will be grief, fury and rage
with no outlet, but that's part of struggling for a better world, I
Love & struggle, mika
P.S. If “Balata Refugee Camp” means nothing to you, or you don’t
understand why Sanquur became a resistance fighter, see
or watch www.archive.org/details/balata