After spending time here it is possible to get a sense not only of the brutality of the occupation, but also just how absurd it is.
This emerges sometimes when Palestinians talk about their experiences. My friend told me about when he was interrogated by Israeli soldiers and one of them tried to make banal small talk. As he related, with a bitter smile, what the soldier said, it was as if it was from a dark comedy sketch.
I could also see this dark humor in a short film by a local Palestinian film-maker. With tongue firmly in cheek, the film is a mock holiday ad for 'The great wall of Palestine'. Under 'the great wall' you can enjoy the shade, and you can see the talents of local graffiti artists..... And, the film reminds us, the wall may cut off half of the sky but, 'half the sky is better than no sky'.
The absurdity of occupation can be seen in the description of recent protests in Nablus as an 'illegal riot' by an Israeli military spokesperson. Firstly there is the dubious legitimacy of an illegal occupying force defining a protest in it's territory as 'illegal'. Secondly, it would be interesting to inquire if it is possible to have a 'legal riot', and, if so, what is the application process?
During the recent protests in east Jerusalem an Israeli police spokesperson said, 'Throughout the morning we have been dealing with local disturbances...[groups] of Palestinians who are causing riots'.
From what i have seen in Abu-Dis this is clearly absurd. What happens is that protesters block off a road with rubbish bins and set fire to a few tyres. This isn't against the law because there is no civilian law under occupation. It is not any real danger to people or property. It is not any real inconvenience, as most people support it and after a while a passage is cleared for vehicles.
Everybody knows the 'disturbance' will only start when the Israeli soldiers turn up. Sure enough they do, at which point people throw stones at them (no threat to army jeeps made with reinforced steel) and the soldiers disperse people with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition.
The soldiers could just not come - and nothing much would happen.
But of course they never 'don't come'. They must force a 'clash' to happen. Firstly, they can't tolerate Palestinians having control of their own streets. Secondly they need to get some 'hits', in other words shoot some people to send a message to others - don't come on the streets, don't raise your heads, stay in your homes and ultimately just give up.
The occupation is brutal, degrading, humiliating - and absurd.