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Reisverslag First report (English version)
11 juli 2014
First report (English version)
At my arrival on May 9th on the airport of Ben Gurion, Tel Aviv we were welcomed by the trainings officer from Jerusalem HQ (Head Quarter). His name is Alex and from Belgium, so the first things were easy to arrange in Dutch and Flemish. He had transport arranged to Jerusalem. We were brought to our hotel and had the weekend for ourselves, of course Alex was there to guide us through the first days. One could say a bit long free time, but Saturday is Sabbath and not very convenient to arrive in Israel.
On Monday we had our first training day, mainly paper work. And the Un being a big organisation, there is quite a lot of bureaucracy! Also some lessons regarding safety, culture, language but also First Aid and so on. Our class consisted of three Dutch, four Nepalese, two Norwegian, a Swiss, one Danish, one New Zealander and one Chinese. So quite international. On Thursday we had our last class lesson and in the afternoon we were welcomed by the Trainings Officer (TRO) from Tiberias. He was going to take us to Tiberias where our next course would take place. This TRO is part of the Observer Group Golan Damascus.
At arrival in Tiberias we were introduced to the present staff (our staff so to say) and new colleagues. After this we were brought to our house. I was with my two other Dutch colleagues in the same house. And these are houses rented in Tiberias through the UN and paid by ourselves. Of course we get an allowance for these expenses. We had a training program that went through the weekend until Tuesday. On Monday the group was divided. This was already planned in advance. I was placed in Observer Group Golan Damascus (OGG-D). Another part of the group was placed in Observer Group Golan Tiberias (OGG-T). The last have their HQ in Tiberias. Because of the civil war in Syria the HQ of OGG-D (my group) is no longer in Damascus, but based in Camp Faouar (CF) in Syria, some 25 kilometres across the border. CF is a UN camp.
On Sunday the trainings program as a visit to some of the Observation Post (OP’s) on the western side of the Area of Separation (AOS). This is the cease fire line between the occupied Golan by Israel and Syria. Very interesting. On Monday there is a visit to the eastern side of the AOS by participants of OGG-D, so that includes me. On Monday driving to Camp Ziouani (CZ), a UN camp on the occupied Golan close the border with Syria. Here we transfer to armoured cars and then make the border crossing. This crossing is only used by UN personnel and in some very rare occasions by special groups or persons. Because if civilians would use this crossing it would mean that the Syrian regime would accept Israel as a country. And they still deny the existence of a Jewish state or Israel!
So at the crossing everybody leaves the car, report to the Israeli border guard, noting names and numbers; cross the gates of the Israeli crossing. Back into the car, drive some 50 meters and report to a UN staff. Stay in the car but again noting names and numbers. Drive another 100 meters, get out of the car, report to a Syrian border guard, noting names and numbers and the content of the car. And please make sure that there is not a single product inside your luggage that has Hebrew marking or language, because the your are not allowed to cross this day and maybe also not the next week!! All these transports and crossing are planned in advance by the authorities of Israel and Syria.
And then we drive into Syria. A very different world, but here also people live in houses, children play on the streets and go to school. Different is that there are many checkpoints. Most of them from Syrian Arab Armed Forces (SAAF), but sometimes also from Anti Government Armed Elements (AGAE). The “front line” is not always that clear and visible. We arrive at Camp Faouar (CF). A big UN camp that is guarded by military personnel from Fiji, Ireland and Nepal. They also arrange the armed transports to and from the border. On this camp is also the HQ from OGG-D, my group. As mentioned before our HQ is on CF because of the civil war it no longer safe to work and live in Damascus for us. And besides our HQ lots of other departments like an EOD team, Military Police, a hospital and also important a kitchen with restaurant. Four different meals are served, Indian, Irish, Fiji and Filipino. So there is a choice. But more important for now, on Tuesday a visit to the OP’s (Observation Posts) in Syria. And I will see my future working and living place, OP72. Good to see also the other OP’s because I will mainly be on OP72.
And then is Wednesday. A day off. Administration, groceries buying. Also meet the landlord for our next apartment, a bigger house that I will share with two other Dutch Navy man and a Belgian Lady that works for UNDOF (United Nations Disengagement and Observer Force).
On Monday May 19th I receive the message that my grandmother has died. I am very sad. Just before my leaving I visited her and had a conversation with her, as far as was possible. At first she did not know who I was, but later on her memory came back. It was just great to have been with her that last time. I wrote a piece of text that Louis has read at the service of her funeral.
Until so far, a next time more, also about the life at an OP.
Foto's bij verslag (9)
11 juli 2014 19:26 | Door: LouisGilde-Leurs
11 juli 2014 19:48 | Door: Marcel Jansen
Goed wat van je te horen kerel!
Na het lezen van dit verhaal weet ik wat me te wachten staat de eerste weken.
Veel succes op OP72 en take care!
12 juli 2014 22:54 | Door: Koos Spanjer
wel laat mij je berichten maar in het Nederlands lezen. dit is toch een beetje gekunsteld. heb je het nu zelf vertaald of is dit een google-vertaling of zoiets.
hoop dat het je daar goed gaat. verhoudingen tussen Israel en Palestijnen worden er niet beter op. Maar dat is ver van jou standplaats, toch?
op de standplaats Amsterdam is het OK. deze week de Muiderkerk nog een nachtje beschikbaar gesteld vooreen groep vluchtelingen, die zich in Amsterdam geen raad weten. en de overheid ziet ook geen uitweg/of wil die niet zin.
nou het ga je goed daar.
13 juli 2014 12:02 | Door: Dick van Baren
Word je nou beticht van een Google-vertaling?
Nou dan zou het er wel anders uitzien c.q. niet uitzien.
Neen je hebt het prima omgezet in het Engels hoor!
Minder tevreden ben ik over (de foto van) jouw slaapplaats CF ;-)
Bed opmaken is niet je sterkste kant moet ik constateren, in mijn
diensttijd (lichting 69/6) kwam je daar niet mee weg tijdens de inspectie :-))
Ja, those were the days my friend!
Alle gekheid op een stokje, ik kijk uit naar je 2e reisverslag (of Second report)
en ondertussen Take Care!
Groeten, ook namens Elly,