INDEPENDENT NEWS

So many olives...

Published: Mon 12 Jan 2009 01:44 PM
So many olives...
by Paul Smith
We were travelling through the West Bank when Tom Krause my colleague from Australia's Channel Nine looked out the window. "So many olives, so little peace" he sighed. That was nearly 20 years ago in the last stage of the Intifadah of the time, before the Great Dividing Wall, before incursions, before the Gaza blockade.
The Israelis had brought members of the Australasian press to the country to see the good the bad and the ugly at first hand. And we saw all three. But it's the little things that linger and today the number five has once more assumed the importance it did back then when Israeli authorities arrested and detained with three others, a Palestinian mother of five. She had been selling scarves which carried a postage stamp sized PLO insignia. (The showing or representation of the flag in any form was then illegal in Israel). Krause protested along with World Vision Director Bill Warnock, but to no avail.
Now five was important for more tragic reasons. Early in this month's Israeli onslaught, five daughters from one family were killed in an air strike in Gaza and listeners to Radio New Zealand needed little translation to feel the father's agony.
When we visited like tourists, Gaza was many things: a bullet-holed blood-stained shirt pinned inside an army trailer; curiously, a map of Fiji on another wall. And the city; the city was another from the Third World as we saw when the army drove us through Gaza's streets in a bullet-proof perspex-covered vehicle. Not long after we began the trip, a hail of bottles and rocks rained down on the vehicle, but that wasn't what was unforgettable. It was the sight of a boy not much older than five. He stepped out into the debris of his street front and his little protest crashed against the perspex.
As we bumped through the mean streets of the City, our Israeli press officer talked about exaggerated press reports referring to the fear people could see in kids' eyes as the patrols went by. Could we see any? he asked.
No - just hate. How much more must there be now?
So many olives…
*************
Paul Smith is the founder of kiwiboomers.co,nz , a website written by kiwi babyboomers.

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