My mom, Bobbie Lord, is in the Occupied Territories (Jerusalem) for a bit doing some volunteer work for the The Jerusalem Princess Basma Center for Disabled Children. She has sent back a couple of missives about interactions with the Israeli Defence Forces.
8 April 2014
We had a wonderful dinner last night at the Jerusalem Hotel, along with music from the Lute. Today we toured the old city, which was fabulous. Our guide was wonderful. On our walk back to the guest house, we stopped in a office supply store (in East Jerusalem) to purchase name tags to help me with the names of the mothers. During the time we were there, sound bombs went off as some of the Palestinians were demonstrating in honor of “land” day – the sound bombs were fired by armed Israeli soldiers to disperse the demonstrators. Mary and I ducked in back of the counter for safety, until is was all over. This lasted for a few minutes – we thought it was gunfire, until the shop keeper told us it was sound bombs. What a welcome!! Mary said she has never seen this before.
12 April 2014
The Israeli soldiers entered the refugee camp, while we were there and set off canisters of tear gas near to where we were. We had to cover our mouths and our eyes stung and we could not see through the tears. We had to run about 200 meters to get to the community center which is being rebuilt after being destroyed. Tear gas and gun fire (rubber bullets) erupted every few minutes. The last one before we left was when we were visiting the cemetery. Our guide, Mohamed, said this is a daily occurrence in the camp. I asked him how he coped. We have no escape. He had stomach issues and the doctor wanted him to go to the hospital in Jerusalem, but the Israelis would not give him a pass.
Mom was invited to volunteer by her friend, Mary Segall, whom she met sometime during the past couple of decades when she was working for the UNHCR in Kenya or Habitat for Humanity International in Zambia (I can’t recall). Mary had been working in Libya (she is an INGO lifer whose field is health), and something ran afoul, so she needed to get out of Tripoli for a while. Mary chose Jerusalem, learned of the volunteer opportunity, and fired her buddy an email asking her to come on over. Here they are together.
 Mom also managed the Qatrom refugee camp in Albania (during the Kosovo Crisis, 1999)—you can read her diary here, worked in post-war Kosovo, and has been an election observer in Ukraine and a few other places.