Monitoring The Mayhem (Pt 2)
A chronology of news events presented by independent media sources from The West Bank (March-June 2002) plus eyewitness testimonies from activists on the ground.
April 06 18:00: Jenin:
Al Razi hospital: Medics watch helplessly as 28-year-old Nidal Al Haj bleeds to death inside the hospital yard. Israeli snipers prevent anyone attending him. Fifteen dead bodies are reported in different locations. The Israel army is systematically bulldozing houses in the camp, home to 15,000 Palestinians. They drop tear gas from helicopters. For two days the camp has resisted the invasion. Occupation soldiers announc in the afternoon that they will ceasefire in order to allow the women and elderly to get water. As those fetching water reach the camp's entrance, all are detained. Shortly after, residents say the Israeli forces call out to the resistance fighters to surrender in order to save the lives of the detained civilians. Detainees are seen strapped to the tanks and personnel carriers, which resume their bombardment shortly after. The Israeli officer heading the Jenin reoccupation offensive is removed from duty having failed to take over the camp.
"First Day April 3: I hear tanks and helicopters. The Israeli troops have entered Jenin city. All day the muezzin from the mosque is calling out for resistance: "Calling all Palestinians, Hamas, Fatah, Jihad. Resist the Army. We are on alert!" By Saturday, they have entered the camp. There are so many tanks. Snipers are everywhere."
"The resistance tried to stop the Army from taking the camp and six Palestinians were killed and two Israeli soldiers. That's what the Israeli reports say. The resistance said Israelis will only take the camp over our dead bodies. The resistance used rocket-propelled grenades for the first time and three Israeli tanks were destroyed. The resistance leaders say "there are a lot of surprises in store for the Israelis"."
"SATURDAY, APRIL 6 9.30am: Israeli troops broke into our house and took over the rooms. They broke furniture and seem very angry. They are rubbing dark camouflage cream on their faces. Some were nervous and I could see the hatred in their eyes. One of the soldiers spat at us. Then some soldiers took my father into a room using him as a shield while they were shooting out from holes they made in the walls. They moved all 24 - neighbours, cousins and relatives - into my uncle Sophi's room.
SUNDAY, APRIL 7: An Israeli soldier was shot in our house. He was seriously injured. There is blood all over his face and he is screaming. The other soldiers put bandages on his face and his arms and later, they put a drip with glucose in his arm. Later, he screams for his mother. I am afraid they will take revenge. They scream at us in Hebrew. They tell us not to go near the window. One soldier is so angry he bangs his head against the wall. The Apache shells the camp all day and the soldier tells us: "We will not leave this place until all the armed men surrender." The Palestinian resistance keeps saying: "We will never surrender." The only muezzin left in the camp continues all day, telling the fighters to resist.
MONDAY, APRIL 8: The Apache keeps shelling. The houses are burnt. No one knows how many people have died inside their houses. Today there is fighting also in Nablus, where my uncle and aunt live, and in Iraq they decide not to sell petrol. Today, Israeli reports say two Israeli soldiers are killed and five injured and 50 Palestinians are killed. Palestinian sources are different. They say there are hundreds of Palestinians killed. The radio also says there is a massacre here in the camp and the world knows nothing about it."
- Translation from the personal DIARY OF REEM SALEH (aged 15), JENIN REFUGEE CAMP
April 08, 20:02: Jenin
Jenin runs out of water, food and medical supplies. People are drinking waste water.
"The IOF are not allowing rotting bodies to be collected from the streets; they shoot at people who try to bring home the dead but do not shoot at the cats and dogs who have started to eat them?"
- MARY KELLY - IRISH NURSE AND ISM ACTIVIST via e-mail APRIL 11
April 09, 2002: Nablus:
Israeli forces continue shelling. Twelve residents are killed. In Askar refugee camp, Israeli forces kill two residents. Hafed Sabra (60) and Amjad Abda (11). During the raid of the old city, the Israeli army take 1000 residents to Hawara military base. Israeli forces close a field hospital at Al-Beik mosque. Loudspeaker announcements from jeeps say: "We are stronger than you - you are weak - there is no-one here to help you."
April 09, 2002: Jenin:
More than one third of the camp has been destroyed.
April 10, 2002: Jenin:
Israeli forces dig large holes in the Haret al-Hawarish area. Eyewitnesses see Israeli troops putting bodies in the holes.
TUESDAY, APRIL 9
"A pregnant neighbour called Hyam comes knocking at our door. She is having pains and is frightened. The soldiers scream at her to go away but she has nowhere to go, she says. She goes out on the street again with her little daughter who is waving a white cloth, like a flag. But they shoot at them anyway. When Hyam gets back to her house, her husband is gone, he has been arrested by the Israelis. Her other children were taken by her neighbour.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10
There is a radio report of a suicide bomber in Haifa on a bus. He came from Jenin. Our neighbours, the Gouls, live across the road. They send their children in our house to be safe but the parents stay because they don't want to leave their house. The house gets rocketed and the parents move to the first floor. Then the second floor gets hit again by a rocket and they finally move. All the children heard the rocket and are scared. When the Apaches circle, the children put their hands over their ears and the Israelis tell them not to be afraid. "The Army knows we are here, you won't get rocketed," they say.
FRIDAY, APRIL 12
Another suicide bombing in Jerusalem. Every day is the same. On the news, I hear 13 Israeli soldiers are killed in Jenin camp. I don't know where it is, because there are explosions all the time. One of the soldiers says to my father: "Now we will not leave until every Arab is dead."
- DIARY OF REEM SALEH WHO LIVES IN THE JENIN REFUGEE CAMP AND CELEBRATED HER 15TH BIRTHDAY THREE DAYS BEFORE THE ISRAELI TANKS MOVED IN. AS A BIRTHDAY PRESENT, HER FATHER GAVE HER A PEN, WITH IT SHE KEPT A DIARY OF THE INVASION. SHE EXPLAINS TO A TRANSLATOR THAT SHE ONCE WANTED TO BE A TEACHER OR A NURSE BUT NOW SHE WANTS TO BE A AMLIEH ESTESHHADIEH, A SUICIDE BOMBER.
"Things in Bethlehem are bad, but things are bad elsewhere. Do we cancel food drops here to go to demonstrations against that bastard [Colin] Powell in Ramallah, leaving Bethlehem without internationals? God we need more people. We kind of thought that Powell's presence might at least inspire a brief pullback and give people a little respite. But not even that seems to be happening. The entire international community has sold out the Palestinian people."
- SARAH IRVING, from BETHLEHEM via e-mail, April 12
April 13: Ramallah:
After several attempts on his life, the IOF arrest one of the most popular figures of the intifada, Marwan Baghouti - a senior Fateh leader and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Ariel Sharon says: "Like in every democratic country he will be tried and put in prison."
Khader Shkirat, General Director of Palestinian human rights group LAW, visits Barghouti, at the Russian Compound ('Moscowbiya') in Jerusalem. His hands and legs are shackled to a small chair, angled to slant forward so that he cannot sit in a stable position. Due to nails sticking out of the chair his back is bleeding. He is not allowed to sleep. Position abuse, also known as 'shabeh', is a favourite of the Israeli General Security Service ('Shin Bet'). Barghouti's interrogators have told him his son is held in detention in Ashkelon and that they are going to kill him.
"The Intifada will not stop until there is an end to the occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on '67 borders. The shortest way to achieve this is to make the occupation have a high price. Eventually , Israeli public opinion will change its mind. This is our strategy: to fight. The [PA] leadership is not prepared for this, but the people are. We are not against negotiations in general but we do not believe in negotiations along the same bases as they have been operating for the last seven years. There will not be any fruit to negotiations unless this Intifada continues. There is a need to re-put the UN Resolutions on the table, and not to get caught up in meaningless details about this street here and that corner there. Finally, we have to change the sponsorship and broker of the talks. The Americans are not fair or honest.
Unfortunately, [the PA] are wasting a historical opportunity to change the rules of the game and to correct the direction of negotiations. Throughout the Arab world, leaders ignore public opinion. In this, the PA is a little better than the Arab regimes, but not by much." "During the first 27 years of Israeli occupation, most of our activities were underground, so democratization could only come after this. We have so far succeeded in convening 172 local conferences, representing over 120,000 Fateh members throughout the West Bank. For the first time, these people elected their own leaders as well as their local committees. We have also made preparations for a regional level of conferences that will act as the umbrella conference to include the villages, towns and refugee camps of each major city. This was an effort towards the national conference which we planned having. Unfortunately the Central Committee and leadership of Fateh is not satisfied with the idea of a national conference, because this would mean that new leaders from a new generation will come to power. I do believe that democratization is part of our struggle for independence." "Right now I think it would be technically difficult to have elections. However one month ago we called for the establishment of an Intifada government. This means to allow all the Palestinian factions who are united now (and this is the first time they are all working together on the ground) to have representatives in the Intifada government: To formally adopt the policy of the Intifada as the policy of the government. This is a good solution until we are somehow able to have general elections. The PA attacked, criticized and refused this, but the people have welcomed the idea."
- FROM A CONVERSATION WITH MARWAN BARGHOUTI BY TOUFIC HADDAD FEBRUARY 2001, BETWEENTHELINES.ORG
April 13, 2002: Jenin:
Israeli army's chief, Brigadier-General Ron Kitrey, tells Army Radio it has killed hundreds of Palestinians in Jenin. "There were apparently hundreds of dead," he said. Fighting ceases when the Palestinian resistance ran out of ammunition. Unarmed men are being rounded up within the camp and taken for summary execution. Waddah Fathi ash-Shalabi, 35 and Abdul Karim Yusif Sa'adih, 38 are shot dead in front of a group of 150 men.
"We entered Jenin camp on the morning of the 14th. It was a closed military zone, but we didn't ask permission to go in, and the few soldiers that saw us, did not intervene. The lower portion of the camp appears to be almost completely deserted, except for wandering goats. It looks like every house has been damaged in some way, but some are still standing.
Israeli bulldozers have cut a 10 metre wide path from the north to the south of the camp so the tanks could get in. Many people have families still buried inside, under the rubble.
The destruction in the centre of the camp is total... an area of 5000 sq ft that is nothing but rubble in what was once the densest, most populous, and poorest area of the camp. It was also the area of the strongest resistance.
Estimates from inside the camp vary between 250-350 homes demolished, and 450 to 600 families, perhaps 2000 people, homeless. We saw six bodies of people killed inside their homes. They'd been there for about six days and it's been quite hot, so decomposition is rapid. You know exactly where a body is because you can smell it.
Maggots and flies eating the bodies. A fortnight ago, before Israeli forces invaded, this was a crowded, bustling place. The narrow alleys between the cinderblock homes - spanning barely the width of outstretched arms - were packed with children.
Today, there is no food, water or electricity in the camp. We met two UN trucks trying to deliver food and water that have been prevented access by the Israeli military for eight hours. They were happy to let us take whatever we could carry. To my knowledge the only international organisation in Jenin is Amnesty International who brought lawyers, took statements from some of the refugees, and filed cases against the Israeli government. Later in Taybeh, Israeli jeeps came through the village with sirens blaring. They were shouting over loud speakers: 'People of Taybeh, you are not allowed to come out of your homes. If you come out of your homes, we will punish you.'"
- BRIAN WOOD COLORADO CAMPAIGN FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE - via e-mail 9.30pm
"On the afternoon of Thursday 12th April, in Bethlehem, I was filming tanks attacking ambulances. One of the soldiers shot at me, hitting my car about 10cm from my head. I was filming the bullets. When he realised I wasn't shot, he raised his machine gun, told me to approach him slowly, to put my camera down, and to take off my flak jacket and hardhat. He searched me and told me to take the film out of my camera. He ripped it, then he cuffed me with plastic quikcuffs. They blindfolded me, put me in a tank, and took me to Etzion, 10km away.
Etzion is not just a settlement. It is a new prison. They built it quickly to collect and maltreat Palestinians. They choose special soldiers for it. When you enter blindfolded they trip you up, and laugh about it, kick you in the legs and body to make you stand. They ask you questions like: "Are you a man? You will be a woman soon!" as they kick you in the groin. They shout abuse at you, about your mother, your sister and your God.
They put me in one of the tents, with 41 other people. The youngest was 16, from Ayda camp. The oldest was 65, from Beit Jala. This tent was for people from Bethlehem .
Rami, the Druze soldier, is in charge. He shouts in Arabic. He is about 20. He especially dislikes Palestinians. Once he pointed his gun at us and said that he would shoot us. He said he could just claim it was a mistake and no one could do anything. Everyone was scared of him. He taunted me, saying: "If I was a journalist I could film it."
"The food was tinned military rations. They would open the can and put it in front of you, still blindfolded and handcuffed, and give you 30 minutes to eat it. I refused to eat like this.
You had to ask to go to the toilet. When you try to call, you're told to shut up. When you really need to go, and call many times, you are kicked in the head and body. One of the prisoners wet himself and started to cry. They make you stand if they think you are going to sleep. Sleep is just a few stolen moments. It was too cold to sleep at night."
- Bethlehem TV reporter, KHALED, STATEMENT ON RELEASE FROM PRISON 14 APR 12:52