- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 17, 2002

DHEISHEH REFUGEE CAMP, West Bank The uncertainty of Marwan al-Jiaydi's day begins at dawn.

Sometimes he is awakened by the noise of Israeli tanks.

"This is not the life I want for me or my children," said the 45-year-old house painter, who has 12 children and two wives living in separate but adjoining houses.

Some 700,000 people are under siege since Israel started imposing rolling curfews on most of the West Bank in recent weeks. Ten thousand of them live in the Dheisheh refugee camp.

The latest restrictions came after three suicide bombings in three days killed 31 Israelis last month. Before that, in March, two suicide bombers from Dheisheh struck in Jerusalem: A woman blew herself up at a supermarket, killing a guard and a shopper, and a man killed 11 Israelis outside a Jewish seminary.

Now troops trudge through Mr. Jiaydi's neighborhood while families eagerly await announcements that the curfew has been lifted. If the curfew is eased between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., Mr. Jiaydi can shop for groceries and get money to relatives. If he is caught in the streets even a minute after curfew, he risks being stopped and questioned.

His children, ages 4 to 21, have little to fill their days. They should be studying for exams, but these have been postponed. So during curfews, they watch a lot of television Middle Eastern music videos, news and American infomercials for juicers and exercise machines or draw pictures of Israeli soldiers and tanks firing at Palestinians.

During breaks in the curfew, they scour the garbage-filled streets looking for scraps of shrapnel, bullets or stun grenades.

Ibrahim, 9, likes to play soccer but also enjoys filling a treasure bag of war remnants. One jagged piece of shrapnel came through the family's window.

When the latest fighting began nearly two years ago, Ibrahim virtually stopped eating, said his mother, Fatmeh, serving tea, hummus and pita bread. "He's only now begun to eat regular things."

The camp, next to Bethlehem, is a cramped maze of cinder block and concrete dwellings for Palestinians made homeless by Israel's creation in 1948.

Mr. Jiaydi says he believes suicide bombings are against Islam, and, "I would never want any of my children to do something like this."

But he thinks the bombings are used by Israel as a pretext for controlling the West Bank. "I know everyone wants this land, but I have nothing to do with that," he said as he watched one of his daughters dancing with her brother.

That's the positive side of the curfew, he said: Being home with the children.

"I will wait, and maybe this will all become a memory someday. Until then, we will keep living our life as it is."

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