Palestine Israel

Tottenham Hotspur
Palestine Israel
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STORY & IMAGE → GARRY RIGBY © 2024
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[Security Checkpoint • Hebron H1|H2 • West Bank • Palestine|Israel]
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“Muslim or Christian?”
demands army girl #1.
“Shinto” I reply. Wrong time to be cheeky, but I just can’t help myself.
“Ma?”  Yells army girl #1.
Here we go.

“Where do you live?” army girl #2 wants to know.
“London”.
“Who do you support?” enquires army girl #1 almost gently… thinks she’s got me bamboozled.
“Tottenham”.
“Yoffi” cry army girl #1 + #2 in unison and delight.

Big smiles now and I’m in.
Ah, they’re so sweet. Eighteen or nineteen, tight green fatigues, big boots, M4 carbine and not forgetting the pièce de résistance… the smouldering cigarette.
Blimey they look cool, kids though nonetheless and poor kids at that. National service, standing check point in a powder keg, in between fucking nutty, illegal Jewish settlers and outraged, occupied Palestinians.
For your information, I don’t like football, I did however, live in Tottenham and knew the Spurs have two Israeli players… Ronny Rosenthal and Manor Solomon.
Ha-ha, now I can get my drink and to get a drink, you gotta go through Israeli security.
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[Unit 8200* • Tel Aviv • Israel]. [Classified signals interception/01-BHS-9210108-666-AMAN]
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“Ma’am.”.**
“What? Give me a break will you.” ***
“It’s confirmed and the intelligence is good. Shall we inform the General Staff?”
“What! Christ no. Our um, brothers made that very clear. We strike first… ‘Israel will not receive so much as a nail’.
“Ma’am, incursion is estimated at 07:00, coordinates…”
“Then we wait. Now get out… And Colonel.”
“Ma’am?”
“If I wanted suggestions I would join a kibbutz. Capeesh?”
“Yes ma’am.”
“Yoffi, at ease soldier… why the fuck can I still see you?”
“Your shoes ma’am, they’re here.”
“Jimmy Choo?”
“Manolo, Manolo Blahnik ma’am.”
“Yoffi toffi.”

* Israeli Intelligence Corps • Signal intelligence (SIGINT).*
** Colonel Yuri Katz (conscientious aide-de-camp | sidekick).*
*** Brigadier-General Sharon Levin (formerly Brigadier-General Aaron Levin [Medal of Valor]). Levin is the highest ranking transgender soldier in the IDF. Nota Bene: No-one ever, not even Yuri, refers to Sharon’s right, glass eye, a cold, relentless stare, which even penetrates his dreams.*
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At 11:00 EST this morning, the US administration promised ‘rock-solid and unwavering’ support to its closest ally in the Middle East.* $2bn worth of US munitions have been pre-supplied in six different locations to be used in case of emergencies. Israel have also requested both interceptors and precision-guided munitions. The USS Gerald R Ford Carrier Strike Group is moving to the Eastern Mediterranean alongside its accompanying warships. [CNN • BBC • Jerusalem Post]
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* Major U.S.-listed defense companies rose in early trading: Lockheed Martin was up more than 7%, while Northrop Grumman climbed more than 10%, on track for its largest percentage increase since March 2020.
RTX was up more than 4%. [Wall Street Journal • Bloomberg]

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[Jerusalem Central • Jerusalem].[24 hours earlier]
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“Shalom, Hebron H1 please.”

“No, don’t go, they’ll kill you.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, which stand is it bevakasha?”
“No, its really dangerous, you…”
“Come on man, I ain’t Jewish anyway, so OK for me! Do I look Jewish?” 

“What does a Jew look like?”
“Touché.”
.I wanted to say, ‘well just like you’, but they do come in all shapes, sizes and colours.

Quite touched really, that he should be so concerned with a gentile’s safety.
At the stand with no concern for safety, is a really pissed, German Jew (Every Jew has the unrestricted right to immigrate to Israel), shouting abuse at anyone vaguely Palestinian and becoming more and more frustrated as nobody takes a blind bit of notice. Pissed and shouting abuse ain’t a good idea, what with all the guns and high temperatures etc. He thinks he his heading for Elat, so is in for a big surprise, when he sobers up. Not so many bars and discos in Hebron… well, none actually and definitely no beach.
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THIS BUS IS BULLET PROOF says the sign in front of my seat (Hebrew + English). I look to my left and see where a bullet has hit the screen but not penetrated… Oh yeah, it is bullet proof. The intoxicated dude has started up again and he hasn’t even sat down yet. And apparently I’m on the wrong bus. This is the settler bus for H2, under Israeli military administration and I’m staying in H1, predominantly Muslim and controlled by the Palestinian National Authority. Why did nobody tell me? And the bus is fricking freezing as usual and why doesn’t somebody shoot that guy, its not as if we’re short of bullets is it.
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“Where can I free myself of the homeland in my body?” Mahmoud Darwish.*
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“Well, my definition of a tragedy is a clash between right and right.” Amos Oz.**
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* Mahmoud Darwish (Arabic: مَحمُود دَرْوِيْش, romanized: Maḥmūd Darwīsh, 13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008) was a Palestinian poet and author, regarded as Palestine’s national poet. Darwish was elected to the PLO Executive Committee in 1987. In 1993, after the Oslo accords, Darwish resigned.
** Amos Oz (Hebrew: עמוס עוז; born Amos Klausner (Hebrew: עמוס קלוזנר); 4 May 1939 – 28 December 2018) was regarded as one of Israel’s most prolific writers and respected intellectuals. From 1967 onwards, Oz was a prominent advocate of a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
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»» Until next time inshallah. Shalom As-Salaam-Alaikum

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“You are a great man” said Arafat.*
“I am not a great man. I am a failure and you have made me one.” replied Clinton coldly.

[Unit 8200 • Tel Aviv • Israel]. [Classified signals interception/01-BHS-9210108-668-AMAN]
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“Gimme an update.”.
“The Major** and his team are in place as of 17:00.”
“I want reports every 4 hours, 24/7″.
“Ma’am”.
“Ramat David?”***
“109 Squadron is fuelled.”
“Ok, keep it that way… And Colonel”
“Ma’am”
“You might wanna give that smile of yours a break, take it on holiday, loose it, it’s pissing me off. Capeesh?”
“Yes ma’am”
“Yoffi, at ease soldier. Major Major eh… Mossad
**** think it hilarious and refuse to promote the poor bastard.”
“Yes ma’am.”
“The problem with more than one Jew in occupied territory Colonel?”
“Ma’am?”
“A couple of drinks and the stupid fucks start singing Hava Nagila.”
“Anything else ma’am?”
“No, get out.”

* Yasser Arafat (1929 – 2004) in telephone conversation with President Clinton prior to his leaving office. The 2000 Camp David Summit meeting between Clinton, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat ended without an agreement, for which Clinton blamed Arafat. Neither side could agree on the right of return of approximately 700,000 Palestinian refugees or sovereignty over East Jerusalem and its holy sites, in particular, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.*
** Gezer Major: Major Gezer Major is the IDF’s most decorated soldier; reported lost in action Yom Kippur War, 1973.
*** Ramat David Israeli Air Force Base is one of three principal airbases of the Israeli Air Force and home to three F-16 C/D squadrons.
**** Mossad is one of the main entities in the Israeli Intelligence Community, along with Aman (military intelligence) and Shin Bet (internal security). Mossad answers directly to the Prime Minister.
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[Mossad safehouse • Ramallah • West Bank • Palestine ].
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“Keep the noise down you stupid fucks” suggests Major Major.
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Yonatan closes his book (Hope: A Tragedy – Shalom Auslander), the noise is just too much.
At least we have Gezer, our bravest soldier and with a wealth of experience thinks Yonatan hopefully.
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“Gezer, get out of the field, we are sick of all this… ‘We used to do it like this in our day’. It’s not helping. Go back to the safe house, and do whatever the fuck you do.” .
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We’re trying to work here and Gezer’s….When we were in Beirut in 73* we had to wear skirts’; its just relentless.
And he’s got a lot of skeletons in his closet and I mean real ones.
No-one quite knows how old he is, but the fucker has been around forever… Ben Gurion and Dizengoff are wandering around an early Rothschild Boulevard and Chagall shouts out, “Look, its Gezer!”
And Gezer always insists on doing the recce, which basically means heading straight for the bar, ignoring all else apart from the cocktail waitresses.
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“What the fuck Gezer, we’ve been out there for five hours. What do you mean, you weren’t sure it was safe. Did you feel in danger, at the bar, chatting to this um, young lady?”
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But mostly it’s the weed; his despatch box is full of it and Ephrain definitely said he wanted receipts this time.

* Operation Spring of Youth (Hebrew: מבצע אביב נעורים) Beirut, Lebanon 1973. Israeli army special forces killed several members of Black September in retaliation for the Munich massacre at the Summer Olympics of 1972. To elude detection, Shayetet 13 commandos were posing as couples, half dressed as women wearing heavy makeup and trying not to ruin their frocks in the speedboats, launched from missile boats offshore. .
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[Blind Charitalbe Society** • Hebron H1 • West Bank • Palestine]
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“What?”

“Does your camera have video?” enquires Anjad. 
“Oh yeah, that’s a good idea. I was always reluctant to press that button to be honest.”  
“What?”
“Er… nothing.”
“I have lots of passion for this place, having been here since I was a child. I teach blind children, children who are going through the same experience that I have been through. And we help them build their confidence, which leads to them being able to face society and have the confidence to contribute to society.” .
Shahed & Dania.*
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Anjad has just rounded up some teachers for me to interview. Wow, they are really direct and so kind, open, and I only met them 5 minutes ago. My landlady’s son drives their bus and that’s how I got the introduction.

Reeling post COVID, not to mention the continuing occupation and still they manage the biggest smiles. It’s beautifully light, colourful and airy with childrens’ voices in the background, laughing, shouting and whooping. Do Anjad and I mention the conflict? No, not really, it’s there every second, screaming in your face. And I only came to Hebron because it had the cheapest Airbnb in the Middle East. I kid you not; big garden, kitchen, bedroom and sitting room. The internet is shit, but then Israel only allow the Palestinians on the West Bank G3 and Gaza only G2; well, nothing now in Gaza. Should have listened to the guy in Tel Aviv – “Get an Israeli sim, it’s illegal in Palestine but a lot faster”. Yeah, I know that now.

“Exile is more than a geographical concept. You can be an exile in your homeland, in your own house, in a room.” Mahmoud Darwish.
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“My parents – they tried to become American, they tried to become British, they tried to become Scandinavian – nobody wanted them, anywhere.” Amos Oz.
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** The Blind Charitalbe Society provide a complete plan of social, health and educational welfare to support students who are blind and visually impaired from kindergarten to seventh grade. BCS are the recipients of the Mohammad Bin Fahed Prize for best performance in the Arab world and the International Schools Award in cooperation with the British Council.
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»»Until next time inshallah. Shalom As-Salaam-Alaikum *


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[Security Checkpoint • Hebron H1|H2 • West Bank • Palestine|Israel]
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“Come and See” .said Sultana. **

I have a confession to make. I’ve been partying in Tel Aviv for the last six months. And boy of boy, if you wanna party… come to TLV! .London, New York, Tokyo and Paris, yeah whatever, nothing compares to TLV, it’s just electric. Nota Bene: I did find a few minutes for a photo-shoot for Unitaf and the Garden Library*; Two Israeli organisations helping stateless refugees, predominantly Sudanese and Eritreans. They have the most incredible deportment; “Are you a Princess?” I asked one lady naively… “No, I’m a stateless refugee!” Christ, what does a Princess look like?**
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Come and see.

Sultana is on the West Bank and wants to draw my attention to the Palestinian cause.
Well, if I go, it’s gonna be different. No victims, no terrorists.
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[Cafe Sara • Hebron H1 • West Bank • Palestine]*
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“No, don’t go.”
They are showing me an Israeli incursion of Hebron H1 on Twitter.
“It’s dangerous, stay with us.”
My God, I ran towards the conflict, thinking Pulitzer Prize, all morality lost in an instance. And the streets looked all the same, until I rounded a corner…
FUCKING HELL. This is not a nightmare, this is real. Burning tyres, kids throwing stones, Israeli snipers on roof tops, pointing right at me… ME!
Anyone journalistic is wearing a flak jacket with PRESS on their helmut – just like Shireen Abu Akleh.
Run, run for your fucking life.
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[Unit 8200 • Tel Aviv • Israel]. [Classified signals interception/01-BHS-9210108-999-AMAN] *
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“Ma’am. Ma’am, are you OK?”
“Give me an update please.”
“We have ah, we have a reported 1,400 fatalities and…”
“Get out, get out of my face Yuri.”
Yuri has never seen Levin cry before; even the glass eye sheds a tear.
“Ma’am, we need to…”
“Give me General Staff. We need to contain this. Capeesh?”
T
“The Palestinians are not going anywhere – they have nowhere to go. The Israeli Jews also aren’t going anywhere – they have nowhere to go. But we cannot become one happy family, because we are not. So, we have to divide the house into two smaller apartments and learn how to say, “good morning” in the hall every day. Eventually, perhaps we will pop in on each other for a cup of coffee. But we need this semi-detached house, a two-family unit.” Amos Oz. *
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“The Palestinians are the only nation in the world that feels with certainty that today is better than what the days ahead will hold. Tomorrow always heralds a worse situation.”. Mahmoud Darwish

* Unitaf + Garden Library are voluntary, Israeli organisations supporting stateless refugees. *
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»» Until next time inshallah. Shalom As-Salaam-Alaikum.
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[Qalandia checkpoint • H1|H2 • West Bank • Palestine|Israel]
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I’m getting dragged across the Qalandia checkpoint* from Palestine to Israel by three soldiers from the IDF. They just grabbed me and held on – I mean, where the fuck do they think I’m gonna run to? They are terribly serious so I keep my stupid mouth zipped; the IDF tend to shoot first and ask questions later.
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“Some of my best friends are Jewish and I love TLV.” (why the fuck did I say that?)
They are silent, determined and insist I come to the promised land. Christ, I hope they don’t take me into a basement… ‘Never go into the basement’, everyone says.
Luckily they just shove me into an innocent little office and demand my passport. I’m white and British, so its unlikely they’ll shoot me. Saying that, I am pretty fucking annoying so they might make an exception.
“What are doing, you can’t take photographs here?” says the Lieutenant.
“Um, just taking er, holiday snaps.”
“Where do you live?”
I lie and tell them Tel Aviv – not sure they will appreciate where I am living.
For some stupid reason I also show them my business card which clearly shows a Palestinian number and address in Ramallah – shit!
They seem to ignore that and after 15 minutes of checking me out – don’t know who the Lieutenant phoned and what was said,** but they let me go.
“Do you know your way back?” Almost friendly now.
“Ken, todah rabah. Shalom.” (That’s the limit of my Hebrew apart from I want beer. I used to ask for weed as pot, but pot is pussy in Hebrew slang, so I had to stop saying that).
“Shalom.”
Fuck, that was more scary than the incursion in Hebron; I ain’t doing that again.

* Qalandia checkpoint is the primary Israel Defense Forces checkpoint between the northern West Bank and Jerusalem. Qalandia is used by the IDF to control Palestinian access to East Jerusalem and Israel. Palestinians are required to have permits to pass through the checkpoint for their work, medical care, education or for religious reasons. My friend’s Grandfather made the same journey from Ramallah to Jerusalem on his donkey – my friend’s car journey today takes three times longer.
** London, 3 months previously. “I’ve seen your security file” said [redacted]. “Yeah, and?” “There is a picture of your stupid face with the words .MOSTLY HARMLESS • DON’T SHOOT. And wait for it, in parenthesis… Unless you really want to”. .Well, that’s just fucking charming.*
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[Unit 8200 • Tel Aviv • Israel] [Classified signals interception jerusalem/01-BHS-9210108-9990-AMAN]
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“What’s he doing?”
“I feel uncomfortable as regards the residence.”
“His only concern is political survival, our concern Colonel, is our country.”
“Ma’am.”
“And what’s she doing?”
“Pizza ma’am… we can’t get the charge card of her.”
“That harpy has a party tomorrow, make sure Shin Bet
do all the catering.”*
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