The 'Wacky Races' and the Tanks

Life Under Israeli Occupation

"We found 4668 items, of which 804 were live," Ian says. "The first load we buried in 30 cubic meters of concrete. Now we blow everything up.

"There was a lot of Israeli stuff, including missiles which they said they didn't use," he harrumphs. "But most of it was Palestinian. We found six factory sites with components for making bombs. They were even making their own gunpowder."

Ian's team gets called all the time by "people who are not happy about things . . . like two-meter-long pipe bombs planted in the road near their houses."

"They trust us and want the stuff taken away because they just want a peaceful life," he says. "We keep their trust. We refuse to tell the Israelis where we find stuff because we're afraid they might take retribution by knocking down the houses there."

Ian's work has been made more dangerous by the kids with slingshots. The kids, looking for salable booty like aluminum window frames, keep taking potshots at the de-miners.

"And there were instances when guys with guns would show up and demand their bombs back," says Ian, who has done similar work in Kosovo, Albania, and Bosnia. "I always give it back—I have a wife and family."

The refugee camp, home to 13,900 people, is not your typical camp. There are no tents or refugees stirring maize porridge over a campfire. This is a small town of concrete houses piled upon concrete houses in a Casbah-like maze.

And it has a reputation as a badland. Even before the current intifada began two years ago, Jenin police never dared venture into its maze of winding alleys. Relations with the 40,000 inhabitants of Jenin town were fraught with friction.

"There are big bad buggers here and these guys are violent," says Larry. "There's no law, no courts, no prisons, and no discipline.

"I get guns pulled on me all the time," he shrugs. "The way I look helps. If you look as old as I do, no one wants to shoot you."

« Previous Page