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Friday, 17 August, 2001, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
'Love led me to the West Bank'
Elizabeth and Ali
Married in March 2001: Elizabeth and Ali
Having fallen in love with a Palestinian man, Elizabeth Price, 28, left her home in England to live in the West Bank. In our weekly Real Time series, she describes daily life during the ongoing intifada, or uprising.

I moved to Ramallah in December to marry my Palestinian husband, Ali. We have been under constant siege for months.

My mum's English and my dad's American - I was the only one in my family who had been to the Middle East until recently.

London-Ramallah map
Elizabeth Price quit London for the West Bank
But a chance meeting with Ali at university dictated the rest of my life. I first came to Palestine [sic] in 1994, and subsequently would live here, then go away and come back.

We used to have a lot of fun here - we'd jump in the car and go to the beach - but now life is very serious.

We got married in Anabta, my husband's village, in March. It was very much an intifada wedding - it was difficult for people to get to Anabta because the Israelis had closed the roads throughout the West Bank.

Then, a few days before the wedding, a suicide bomber blew himself up. He was from a refugee camp right next to Anabta, so we didn't know if we'd be able to go to get married, in case the Israelis bombed the refugee camp in retaliation.


This was my sister-in-law's wedding day, and the political situation turned it into a travesty and a tragedy

We had to change the wedding venue, and few people from outside the village were able to come.

But it was a really great wedding, and wasn't that tense compared to my sister-in-law's - she got married last Sunday.

We were in a beauty salon, getting our make-up done, when Israeli soldiers assassinated a Hamas activist about 300m away. There were loud bangs, then all these women from the salon next door rushed in hysterical.

We eventually went ahead with the wedding, but it was interrupted halfway through by electricity cuts and more shooting.

Elizabeth and brother Richard
Elizabeth and brother Richard, who travelled to Anabta for the wedding
I felt anger to the point that I felt nothing at all. This was my sister-in-law's wedding day, and the political situation turned it into a travesty and a tragedy.

The Israelis have blockaded all the main roads and side roads in the West Bank and Gaza. Ramallah is about 70km from Ali's village, where his parents live. It should take an hour to get there, but now it can take up to seven hours.

A lot of that time is spent at checkpoints, or driving through villages on these little tiny back roads.

We never use the main roads now, because settlers throw stones at people, and soldiers may not let us through. We stopped at one checkpoint in the Jordan valley in 100F weather - some cars had been there for four hours.

Living in fear

It was pretty scary when the Israelis bombed Ramallah's police station [in retaliation for the 9 August suicide bombing in Jerusalem].

Youths with slingshots
Palestinian youths clash with Israeli police in Ramallah
At about 2am, we heard a plane and realised it was an F16. The pilots were trying to terrorise the people of Ramallah by flying overhead for about 20 minutes before bombing the police station, right next to my friend's house.

When I hear a plane overhead these days, I flinch. When I hear a bang in the distance - construction sounds or someone dropping something - I tense because it might be an explosion.

Everyone is on edge but because we're all suffering at the same time, no-one can vent. We just keep the tension inside.

I've learned to separate my life, to keep doing the things that keep me happy and keep me sane. Ali and I are lucky - we're building a garden from scratch. When they first bombed Ramallah a couple of months ago, we just kept on gardening.

Historical land

I stay here largely because my husband lives here and because I love Palestine. I love the vitality of the history and the beauty of the land.

Elizabeth and Ali on wedding day
"It was very much an intifada wedding"
Living in a situation like this, I've learned to adapt to the point where I've got used to the sound of an F16 flying overhead at night because I have to go to sleep.

There is a word in Arabic that means endurance - sumud. Once, I thought that was a noble characteristic. Now I realise endurance is survival.

For all the trauma I think I have experienced, I have a good life. I have a husband who adores and supports me, I have a foreign passport that lets me move freely and shields me from soldiers, I have a good job and my wages protect me from the worst of the economic problems, I have a roof above my head, and I don't live near anything in Ramallah the Israelis would want to bomb.

I thank my lucky stars every day for my life. Because now I know how bad it could be.


Real Time gives people a chance to tell their own stories in their own words. If you've got something to say, click here.



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See also:

08 Dec 00 | Middle East
10 Aug 01 | Middle East
09 Aug 01 | Middle East
14 Aug 01 | Middle East
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