April 16: Latest News from Palestine
Translation to Arabic | Translation to most European Languages

Past News Archive
April 5 | April 7 | April 9 | April 10 | April 12

Audio Reports:
1) Democaracy Now! (New York, USA)
URL: http://www.democracynow.org/
Massacre in Jenin: An American Activist Gives The First Unaccompanied Eyewitness Account From Inside The Camp; Unlike Reporters, He Was Not Escorted By The Israeli Military.
A Report from Inside Yasser Arafat's Compound in Ramallah: International Solidarity Movement Activists Protest Colin Powell’s Visit. An Israeli Activist Throws Herself Out of a First Floor Window of the Compound to Get her Message Across.

1) Desperate Powell to meet Arafat (The Guardian, UK)
2) Amid the ruins of Jenin, the grisly evidence of a war crime (Independent, UK)
3) Removal of bodies from Jenin refugee camp (The Palestine Monitor)
4) From Under the Rubble of Jenin: 'Come Help Us!' (Palestine Chronicle)
5) Palestinian Deaths Aren't Headline Material at NY Times (FAIR, USA)
6) UN rights body condemns Israel for 'mass killings' (Reuters)
7) UN says Israel flouting Geneva Convention (Reuters)
8) More than 20,000 protest against Israel in Germany (Reuters)
9) Bush welcomes big pro-Israel rally (Reuters)
10) Sharon: Israel to Continue Offensive (Associated Press)

New Updates from PalestineChronicel.com URL: http://www.palestinechronicle.com/
News Update: 2:00 AM to 8:00 AM GMT (Tuesday)

-Hours following an Israel promise to pull out of most of the recently re-occupied Palestinian territories, the Israeli army re-invaded the West Bank city of Tulkarm in full.

-Israeli forces attacked two refugee camps near Nablus, New Askar and Old Askar. The Israeli army used Apache helicopters to shell both camps, wounding several people, destroying and damaging many homes.

-Two top Hamas leaders Faize Al Tawail and Abu Wardeh were arrested by Israeli troops in the West Bank. Earlier, a top leader of the Palestinian Intifada, Marwan Barghouti was detained. Israel intends to treat Barghuti, the West Bank chief Fatah movement "according to the law," Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said. Israel tried to assassinate the Barghuti in the past months and failed.

-The Israeli army resumed its psychological warfare against 200 Palestinians holed up in the Church of the Nativity, broadcasting ear-splitting noise and repeated calls to surrender. Sounds of drilling, animal roars and strident shouts were played over a giant loudspeaker facing the church which marks Jesus's birthplace. Earlier, pre-recorded messages calling for the besieged Palestinians to give up were played for half an hour.

News Update: 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM GMT (Monday)

-The United Nations top human rights body has condemned Israel for what the international group calls mass killings of Palestinians. A resolution was adopted by a vote of 40 to five, with seven countries abstaining. Among those opposing the resolution were Britain and Germany, while a number of European members voted in favor.

- Israel has arrested Marwan Barghouti, a close aide to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and a top leader of the Palestinian uprising.

- A group of international relief workers, including Palestinian medics, is getting its first look inside the devastated Palestinian refugee camp at Jenin. International Red Cross and Red Crescent workers with ambulances, escorted by Israeli troops, are searching for bodies and giving medical aid to the wounded.

-Israel says its army has exchanged gunfire with armed Palestinians trapped inside Bethlehem's Church of Nativity. The Israeli military says two soldiers were lightly hurt Monday when shots were fired around the church compound. Palestinian officials say one Palestinian inside the church was wounded.

News Update: 10:00 AM GMT (Monday)

-Two Palestinians were reportedly killed in Bethlehem on the hands of Israeli troops. The latest killing followed a day of failed attempts to end the Israeli siege of the Church of Nativity, Christianity holiest site. Two people, including a monk were killed by Israeli snipers inside the church since the beginning of the standoff a few days ago.

News Update: 8:00 AM GMT (Monday)

- The Israeli Jerusalem Post claimed that Israeli army foiled an attempted Palestinian infiltration near Kfar Darom in the southern Gaza Strip overnight. It said that soldiers killed two fighters in the alleged operation. A third fled into the nearby Dir El Balah refugee camp, according to the same source.

News Update: 7:30 AM GMT (Monday)

-US Secretary of State Collin Powell met with Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut, then headed to Damascus for talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to discuss the tension on the Israeli Lebanese border.

News Update: 6:00 AM GMT (Monday)

-Palestinian officials have rejected an Israeli deal for the surrender of Palestinians held in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. Israel's 'deal' offered Palestinians at the church to face trial in an Israeli military court or face permanent exile.

News Update: 5:00 AM GMT (Monday)

-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat said he might agree to an Israeli proposal for a regional peace conference, if the United States endorsed the idea.

1) Desperate Powell to meet Arafat
US grasps at Sharon plan for regional talks
Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor
Tuesday April 16, 2002
The Guardian


The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, is scheduled to meet the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, in Ramallah again today in a last-ditch attempt to prevent his Middle East mission ending in fiasco.

Mr Powell, who returned to Israel last night from a fleeting visit to Lebanon and Syria, embraced a plan proposed on Sunday by the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, for a regional peace conference.

He added a face-saving formula to get over Israel's insistence that the conference could only go ahead if Mr Arafat was absent, a condition that is unacceptable to Palestinians and Arab states.

Although UN and EU diplomats yesterday treated the plan with scepticism, Mr Powell grabbed at the proposal, partly because of a lack of diplomatic movement anywhere else. He said: "We've got to move quickly to a political track and there are many ways to do that, and one way is a regional or international conference."

The conference will be difficult to get off the ground as long as Israeli forces remain in Palestinian towns. The Israeli government was adamant last night that it would not withdraw from Ramallah or Bethlehem.
The Palestinians, in turn, said that without a withdrawal, there could be no ceasefire.

The conference idea had appeared to be stillborn on Sunday when Mr Sharon insisted that Mr Arafat could not attend. The secretary of state, in an attempt to bypass this, suggested that the conference could be held at ministerial level, in which case neither Mr Sharon nor Mr Arafat would be participants.

"It doesn't necessarily require his presence to get started," Mr Powell said of the Palestinian leader.

An Israeli foreign ministry official in Jerusalem said last night that the US secretary of state might also see Mr Sharon today. The official said the prime minister had a busy schedule because it was the Day of Remembrance for Israeli soldiers killed in combat since the war that established the country in 1948. Mr Sharon, among other events, will pay a tribute at the cemetery at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem. He has further commitments tomorrow, which is Independence Day, a national holiday.

The reaction of Britain and other European countries was to treat the plan gingerly. The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, said he welcomed any idea that might lead to progress, but a Foreign Office spokesman said: "Arafat, who remains in Palestinian eyes the Palestinian leader everyone should deal with, should not be sidelined."
Having made little progress at the weekend in talks with Mr Sharon and Mr Arafat, Mr Powell spent most of yesterday in Lebanon and Syria, where he urged their leaders to restrain Hizbullah guerrillas who have been firing across the Lebanon border and engaging Israeli forces at the Shaaba Farms, a disputed area.

"There is a very real danger of the situation along the border widening the conflict in the region," he warned after talks with the Lebanese president, Emile Lahoud.

Thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians demonstrated near Beirut airport as Mr Powell arrived.

Although neither Lebanon nor Syria wants to become embroiled in a war with Israel, the Lebanese government has little control over Hizbullah, which is supported mainly by Syria and Iran. Lebanon is just recovering from its prolonged civil war and Syria is desperately trying to modernise after years of economic neglect.
After Mr Powell's departure, Hizbullah issued a statement vowing to keep up its attacks: "The Islamic resistance in Lebanon will continue carrying out its duty to free the remaining occupied Lebanese land," the statement said.

2) Amid the ruins of Jenin, the grisly evidence of a war crime
Phil Reeves in Jenin
16 April 2002 independent.co.uk

A monstrous war crime that Israel has tried to cover up for a fortnight has finally been exposed. Its troops have caused devastation in the centre of the Jenin refugee camp, reached yesterday by The Independent, where thousands of people are still living amid the ruins.

A residential area roughly 160,000 square yards about a third of a mile wide has been reduced to dust. Rubble has been shovelled by bulldozers into 30ft piles. The sweet and ghastly reek of rotting human bodies is everywhere, evidence that it is a human tomb. The people, who spent days hiding in basements crowded into single rooms as the rockets pounded in, say there are hundreds of corpses, entombed beneath the dust, under a field of debris, criss-crossed with tank and bulldozer treadmarks.

In one nearby half-wrecked building, gutted by fire, lies the fly-blown corpse of a man covered by a tartan rug. In another we found the remains of 23-year-old Ashraf Abu Hejar beneath the ruins of a fire-blackened room that collapsed on him after being hit by a rocket. His head is shrunken and blackened. In a third, five long-dead men lay under blankets.

A quiet. sad-looking young man called Kamal Anis led us across the wasteland, littered now with detritus of what were once households, foam rubber, torn clothes, shoes, tin cans, children's toys. He suddenly stopped. This was a mass grave, he said, pointing.

We stared at a mound of debris. Here, he said, he saw the Israeli soldiers pile 30 bodies beneath a half-wrecked house. When the pile was complete, they bulldozed the building, bringing its ruins down on the corpses. Then they flattened the area with a tank. We could not see the bodies. But we could smell them.

A few days ago, we might not have believed Kamal Anis. But the descriptions given by the many other refugees who escaped from Jenin camp were understated, not, as many feared and Israel encouraged us to believe, exaggerations. Their stories had not prepared me for what I saw yesterday. I believe them now.

Until two weeks ago, there were several hundred tightly-packed homes in this neighbourhood called Hanat al-Hawashim. They no longer exist.

Around the central ruins, there are many hundreds of half-wrecked homes. Much of the camp - once home to 15,000 Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war - is falling down. Every wall is speckled and torn with bullet holes and shrapnel, testimony of the awesome, random firepower of Cobra and Apache helicopters that hovered over the camp.

Building after building has been torn apart, their contents of cheap fake furnishings, mattresses, white plastic chairs spewed out into the road. Every other building bears the giant, charred, impact mark of a helicopter missile. Last night there were still many families and weeping children still living amid the ruins, cut off from the humanitarian aid. Ominously, we found no wounded, although there was a report of a man being rescued from beneath ruins only an hour before we arrived.

Those who did not flee the camp, or not detained by the army, have spent the bombardment in basements, enduring day after day of terror. Some were forced into rooms by the soldiers, who smashed their way into houses through the walls. The UN says half of the camp's 15,000 residents were under 18. As the evening hush fell over these killing fields, we could suddenly hear the children chattering. The mosques, once so noisy at prayer time, were silent.
Israel was still trying to conceal these scenes yesterday. It had refused entry to Red Cross ambulances for nearly a week, in violation of the Geneva Convention. Yesterday it continued to try to keep us out.

Jenin, in the northern end of the occupied West Bank, remained "a closed military zone", was ringed Merkava tanks, army Jeep patrols, and armoured personnel carriers. Reporters caught trying to get in were escorted out. A day earlier the Israeli armed forces took in a few selected journalists to see sanitised parts of the camp. We simply walked across the fields, flitted through an olive orchard overlooked by two Israeli tanks, and into the camp itself.

We were led in by hands gesturing at windows. Hidden, whispering people directed us through narrow alleys they thought were clear. When there were soldiers about, a finger would raise in warning, or a hand waved us back. We were welcomed by people desperate to tell what had occurred. They spoke of executions, and bulldozers wrecking homes with people inside. "This is mass murder committed by Ariel Sharon," Jamel Saleh, 43, said. "We feel more hate for Israel now than ever. Look at this boy." He placed his hand on the tousled head of a little boy, Mohammed, the eight-year-old son of a friend. "He saw all this evil. He will remember it all." So will everyone else who saw the horror of Jenin refugee camp. Palestinians who entered the camp yesterday were almost speechless.

Rajib Ahmed, from the Palestinian Energy Authority, came to try to repair the power lines. He was trembling with fury and shock. "This is mass murder. I have come here to help by I have found nothing but devastation. Just look for yourself." All had the same message: tell the world.

3) Removal of bodies from Jenin refugee camp
The Palestine Monitor, A PNGO Information Clearinghouse

April 14th, 2002

Earlier today the Israeli High Court gave permission for the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent ambulances to enter Jenin refugee camp and remove the bodies of the scores of dead that witnesses said were lying in houses and the streets of the camp.

This ruling came about after Arab members of the Israeli Knesset petitioned the high court - but unfortunately the military on the ground refused to allow the ambulances and medical teams entry until 5:45 PM by which time it was dusk.

Jenin camp has not had electricity for the past nine days and to enter to begin to carry out such a massive operation would be difficult and dangerous with light and the presence of the Israeli military snipers and armed soldiers. Without light the Palestinian agencies were naturally reluctant to enter the camp, which in the past week, has been the scene of ferocious
Israeli attacks.

Palestinian medical agencies are concerned about the delay.

They are concerned that the Israeli military and government will use this opportunity to say the Palestinians did not want to enter the camp - and use the event for their own propaganda purposes.

As one source who did not want to be identified exclaimed, "this appalling behaviour is typical of the Israeli army - to put Palestinians in front of an impossible situation, and then manipulate the facts to suit their own purposes".

This has occurred on numerous occasions recently - with one level of the military coordinating with Palestinians to implement certain initiatives, but on the ground the soldiers prevent them from occurring, for example repairs to water networks in Ramallah, and the collection of sick and wounded people by ambulances which have then come under attack.

We will provide you with more information as the situation unfolds.

For more information contact The Palestine Monitor +972 (0)2 5834021 or +972 (0)2 5833510

4) From Under the Rubble of Jenin: 'Come Help Us!'
Tuesday, April 16 2002 @ 02:09 AM GMT

All the men between 7 and 90 years old have been arrested, blindfolded, and their hands cuffed behind their back, held this way for several days. They are sent to unknown locations and kept up to four days with almost no water nor food.

Brian Wood, a member of the International Solidarity Movement, native from Denver Colorado, is currently in Taybeh, situated a few miles west of the Jenin refugee camp. With others internationals, he tried unsuccessfully to reach the camp.

In the past days, he has been interviewing witnesses of the horrors that recently happened there. This camp was inhabited by 15,000 people. The Israeli Army is now trying to hide the evidences of its war crimes. This report was written after a phone conversation with Brian at 9:00am (Palestine Time) Sunday April 14th.

By Brian Wood

In Jenin refugee camp, people have been alive buried under their homes. This information has been confirmed by several testimonies from people who fled the Jenin camp to different towns all around Jenin. On Friday April 12th, a man named Hashem Natour was under the rubbles of his home when he called a friend of his: "Come help us!" Another man said on Saturday, April 13th that he was sure that his family was under the rubbles of his home, but was not allowed to approach them, and thus didn't know if they were dead or alive.

If they are not shot at, international and local humanitarian aid workers have been detained, arrested, stripped down to their underwear, and interrogated. They are denied the right to enter the military "closed areas." No journalists are allowed in Jenin nor at the Jenin refugee camp. Only the BBC was allowed to enter Jenin down town last Thursday for a few hours, but not the Jenin camp. They were then expelled from the area.

Some testimonies say that the Jenin refugee camp has been entirely destroyed, others say that a small section of the camp remains. After it was invaded by the Israeli army, all the houses, with any noticeable movement inside, were indiscriminately targeted by air strikes from Apaches helicopters. Then, bulldozers destroyed dozens of houses with their families inside. It is impossible to say how many people have died or are still alive under the rubble, maybe over a thousand (the Israeli army has admitted 200 hundred deaths). Witnesses talk about mass graves being dug by the Israeli soldiers and other corpses put into trunks. According to rumors, the trunks are sent either to Haifa or to the Jordan Valley.

All the men between 7 and 90 years old have been arrested, blindfolded, and their hands cuffed behind their back, held this way for several days. They are sent to unknown locations and kept up to four days with almost no water nor food. They are systematically interrogated either by Israeli soldiers or by the Israeli Intelligence Service, and most of them are hit with plastic batons, punched and/or kicked. When they are released they are threatened with death if they try to reach a hospital or to go back to their homes. Palestinian identity cards have been stamped with the label "terrorist".

The Israeli army is currently invading all the villages surrounding Jenin one after another. As Brian was talking on the phone, he could hear the shootings from a town named Silah five miles away. "We are expecting that this town, Taybeh, will be invaded tonight or tomorrow night", he said. "When the media say that they the Israeli Army is backing off, it's a big lie", he concluded.

Brian is one of four Coloradans in Palestine joining many internationals in solidarity with Palestinians trying to end the illegal Israeli military occupation of Palestine. More on their trip at: www.ccmep.org/Palestine.html

5) Palestinian Deaths Aren't Headline Material at NY Times
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting URL:
Media analysis, critiques and activism
April 12, 2002

How many Palestinian lives equal one Israeli life, according to the editors of the New York Times?

The main headline on the front page of the New York Times' April 10 final edition was "At Least 8 Killed In Suicide Bombing On A Bus In Israel." The late edition, which is available to more readers, had "13 Israeli Troops Killed in Ambush; Bus Bomb Kills 10," in the 36-point headline size that the paper reserves for what it considers major events.

Six paragraphs into the story, the paper provided this additional information: "More than 100 Palestinians have been killed in Jenin, the Palestinian town that has brought the stiffest resistance to the broad Israeli sweep through the West Bank. Many of the Palestinian dead still lie where they fell."

By its headline choice, the Times suggested that the deaths of 23 Israelis (or eight, in the final edition) are more important than the deaths of 100 Palestinians.

But even those ratios may understate the greater weight that the editors place on Israeli casualties. Beneath the main headline in the late edition were two subheads: "Worst Army Toll" and "A 14th Soldier Is Killed in Separate Attack at a Refugee Camp." The Times might have used one of the subheads to acknowledge the deaths of more than a hundred Palestinians, but evidently noting the death of a single additional Israeli soldier was considered more newsworthy.

One might suggest, in the New York Times' defense, that large numbers of Palestinian deaths have been a constant since Israel's military invasion of the West Bank began on April 1, whereas the deaths on April 9 were the first time since the offensive began that Israelis-- civilians or combatants-- had seen casualties on that scale.

But when were the hundreds of Palestinians killed considered to be major, front-page news by the New York Times? A review of the page A1 headlines used by the Times since the March 29 start of the invasion reveals a striking lack of references to the Palestinians killed in the Israeli operations. Generally the headlines were antiseptic:"Israelis Broaden West Bank Raids as Arabs Protest" (4/2/02); "U.S. Envoy Meets Arafat as Israel Steps Up Its Sweep" (4/6/02).

When an April 5 headline used the word "carnage," it was not a reference to the scores of Palestinians dying in the ongoing Israeli attack, but to a suicide bombing that had killed three (including the bomber) a week earlier.

One April 4 front-page subhead, "Bleeding to Death," did allude to Israeli killing of Palestinians-- under the "balanced" headline, "Arabs' Grief in Bethlehem, Bombers' Gloating in Gaza"-- but this was an exception to the general trend.

There's more to news than front-page headlines, of course, and the Times has done some valuable reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on its inside pages. Front-page headlines are, however, a clear indicator of what a paper's editors consider to be the most important events of the day. In the case of the powerful and prestigious New York Times, these headlines can set news agendas around the world. The Times should not use its front page to send the message that some lives matter more than others.

ACTION: Please tell the New York Times not to suggest through its headline choices that the lives of Palestinians and Israelis should be valued differently.

New York Times
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New York, NY 10036-3959
mailto: nytnews@nytimes.com
Toll free comment line: 1-888-NYT-NEWS

As always, please remember that your comments are taken more seriously if you maintain a polite tone. Please cc fair@fair.org with your correspondence.

Feel free to respond to FAIR ( fair@fair.org ). We can't reply to everything, but we will look at each message. We especially appreciate documented example of media bias or censorship. And please send copies of your email correspondence with media outlets, including any responses, to fair@fair.org .

6) UN rights body condemns Israel for 'mass killings'
By Richard Waddington

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations top human rights body condemned Israel on Monday for "mass killings" of Palestinians and demanded it end its military offensive in the occupied territories.

The annual session of the Geneva-based Commission on Human Rights approved a resolution from Arab and Muslim states that blasted Israel for "gross violations" of humanitarian law and affirmed the "legitimate right of Palestinian people to resist."

The motion, backed by some European Union states including France, expressed grave concern at "the killing of men, women and children" in West Bank refugee camps, among them Jenin where Palestinians accuse Israeli troops of massacring Palestinian women and children as well as fighters.

But it made no mention of particular incidents when referring to "acts of mass killings perpetrated by the Israeli occupying authorities."

Israel says around 70 Palestinian militants were killed in the camp, which saw some of the fiercest fighting of its 17-day incursion into Palestinian controlled areas -- billed as a drive against suicide bombers.

But Israel's reluctance to let aid workers into Jenin and other camps has stirred suspicions and triggered protests from humanitarian groups.

The Jewish state has also not yet given the green light for a special mission of inquiry, which the Commission asked U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson to lead, to visit the region.

The 53-state Commission passed the motion by 40 votes to five, with seven states abstaining and one member not present for the ballot which came as Secretary of State Colin Powell pursued his bid to negotiate a cease-fire in the conflict.

Britain and Germany voted against, while Italy abstained. Canada, Guatemala and the Czech Republic also voted no.


Explaining their decisions, the British, German and Italian delegations said that the text was not balanced and did not speak out clearly enough against "terrorist" acts such as suicide bombings by Palestinian militants against Israeli civilian targets.

"Germany remains deeply concerned at the extremely serious human rights and humanitarian situation in the occupied territories," German ambassador Walter Lewalter said, adding that it backed calls for an immediate Israeli military withdrawal.

But he said Germany could not back the resolution because "the text contains formulations that might be interpreted as an endorsement of violence."

Diplomats had indicated on Friday that the motion would get significant European support after Arab and Muslim states softened some of the language, removing references to Israel committing acts of "state terrorism" and to the Palestinians' right to use "any means" to fight military occupation.

"It is just window dressing," said Israel's ambassador Yaakov Levy. "Not only does it not condemn it (suicide bombings), it gives them a license to continue this policy of terrorism. That's why it is so wrong."

Israel, which has been denied the support of the United States in the forum after Washington lost its seat on the Commission last year, is routinely criticized at the annual Commission sessions for its treatment of Palestinians.

But last year, EU states all abstained when the Commission voted to accuse Israel of using "disproportionate" force in the occupied territories and deplored its carrying out of "extra-judicial" killings of militant Palestinians.

At least 1,272 Palestinians and 452 Israelis have been killed since a Palestinian revolt against Israeli occupation began in September 2000 after peace talks stalled.

04/15/02 09:19 ET

7) UN says Israel flouting Geneva Convention
By Dominic Evans

LONDON (Reuters) - The head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees accused Israel Monday of violating the Geneva Convention during its "war on the camps" and said troops had willfully destroyed U.N. medical supplies.

United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) chief Peter Hansen told Reuters in an interview his agency had repeatedly sought access to the Palestinian refugee camps since Israel launched its crushing offensive in the West Bank two weeks ago.

Israel's response to the appeals, in defiance of international accords which call for humanitarian access to victims of war, had been "virtually all negative," Hansen said during a visit to London.

"I cannot say we never had access but I can say we have not had anywhere near the access that one would have expected if the Geneva Convention would have been observed," he said.

"We have also made representations about the targeting of our ambulances, the occupation and destruction of medicine and instruments in some of our health centers and the use of UNRWA schools as centers of interrogation."

Israel launched a rolling campaign of military incursions across the West Bank at the end of last month in response to a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed or wounded in the offensive, which Israel has said will go on until it finished its hunt for militants and suicide attackers.

"We have made efforts for access time and again," Hansen said. Apart from a case at Balata refugee camp near Nablus, two occasions during a cease-fire in Ramallah and one instance at Jenin hospital three days ago, access had been blocked.

"I have discussed this with colleagues who have been in humanitarian work in other parts of the world," said Hansen, a former U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs. "None of us can think of situations where there has been that almost complete lack of response to humanitarian appeals."


Hansen said in the Amari refugee camp, on the outskirts of Ramallah, an UNRWA health center had been broken into.

"A dental chair ... fastened to the floor with bolts, was kicked or pushed so violently that the whole chair was broken by the soldiers. So it looked very much like willful, wanton destruction," he said.

All four of UNRWA's ambulances in the West Bank were hit in the fighting, Hansen said. He also cast doubt on Israeli charges that Palestinians were using ambulances to conceal and ferry weapons across the West Bank.

"We had in two cases, before the war on the camps, Israeli soldiers place ammunition in UNRWA cars which were discovered by the staff as they were placing them," he said, adding the soldiers had laughed off the incidents as jokes.

In the northern West Bank town of Jenin, scene of the fiercest fighting in recent days, Hansen said UNRWA had registered 3,000 people who had fled the refugee camp.

Five thousand were believed to have stayed in the camp, leaving a further 5,000 still unaccounted for -- though many of those had probably escaped and not yet been registered.

"We might very well have them in our midst but things are moving very, very fast," Hansen said. "We know that many people have been killed but we don't play the numbers game.

"Until we are given full access we don't even have a chance to begin approximating the numbers."

Hansen said very little was left of the infrastructure of President Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority. Ministries had been attacked and ransacked, including the Ministry of Education and the bureau of central statistics.

"There is not a building left that has not been bombed," he said. "Basically there is a huge task, which leaves all the more burden on UNRWA."

The cash-strapped U.N. agency, which supports health and education projects for Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, has still only collected 40 percent of the $117 million it estimated it would need for 2002.

It planned to launch an emergency appeal to cover the costs of the latest wave of destruction, but faced a more pressing crisis than the long-term reconstruction needs.

"We are now in a situation where food stocks are running low all over the place," Hansen said.

"We have not been able to replenish any stocks in Gaza or the West Bank for some time and we run the risk -- unless we get imports and we get money to pay for them -- of running out of food aid in late summer."
04/15/02 09:19 ET

8) More than 20,000 protest against Israel in Germany

BERLIN, April 13 (Reuters) - More than 20,000 people demonstrated in Germany on Saturday to protest Israel's two-week sweeping offensive in Palestinian territories, police said.

In Berlin, authorities said that 11,000 took part in a demonstration that was mostly peaceful, although a few protesters hurled stones at the British embassy in central Berlin as the procession passed the building.

Another 6,000 people rallied in Frankfurt, condemning the policies of Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and 5,000 more protested in the western city of Duesseldorf.

Demonstrators chanted slogans such as "Sharon is a murderer and fascist" and carried banners reading "Put an end to Israeli state terror" and "Holocaust in Palestine."

Germany has traditionally given unwavering support to Israel, in large part due to shame over the Holocaust that left six million European Jews dead during World War Two.

But the taboo on criticising Israel has weakened in recent weeks. A number of political leaders have voiced doubts about Israeli policies, although the German government has avoided any criticism.

A pro-Israel rally in Frankfurt on Wednesday drew 3,000 demonstrators, who urged the Israeli government to take an even harder line.

Palestinian President Yasser Arafat has been trapped in his Ramallah headquarters surrounded by Israeli tanks since March 29, when the Israeli army launched its West Bank offensive after a suicide bombing killed 28 people in an Israeli hotel.

A Palestinian suicide attack killed six people in Jerusalem's main market on Friday, the latest deadly incident in 18 months of violence. Israeli tanks rolled into half a dozen West Bank towns on Saturday in defiance of U.S. pressure to end the offensive.

Arafat accused Israeli forces of committing "massacres and slaughters" against Palestinians during their 15-day-old West Bank campaign -- an allegation the army has denied.
04/13/02 12:21 ET

9) Bush welcomes big pro-Israel rally
By Jennifer Knoll

WASHINGTON, April 15 (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of demonstrators, encouraged by a message from President George W. Bush, chanted and cheered solidarity with Israel at the U.S. Capitol on Monday, equating the military onslaught on Palestinian militants with Bush's war on terrorism.

The rally, held as U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell struggled to mediate between the historic enemies and secure a cease-fire after months of violence, heard emotional speeches from U.S. and Israeli politicians and Jewish activists.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, representing Bush, told the crowd the president "wants you to know that he stands in solidarity with you. We stand with you in this time of trial."

But Wolfowitz, a staunch advocate for Israel, also spoke sympathetically of the Palestinians' situation.

"Israelis are not the only victims of violence in the Middle East. Innocent Palestinians are suffering and dying in great numbers as well," he said to boos. "It is critical that we recognize and acknowledge that fact."

But he added that Palestinians "must also recognize another fact -- that suicide bombers are the single greatest obstacle to ending their suffering and to realizing the Palestinian state that the whole world is prepared to recognize."

He said since Sept. 11 the United States had one more thing in common with Israelis: Americans now know what it is like to be attacked by suicide bombers and why it is essential to fight terrorism.

Other speakers, including former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel and members of Congress, also drew the link with the hijack airliner attacks on America.

Netanyahu, a hard-liner seen as a prospective challenger for the premiership in elections next year, declared: "Israel and the United States are today fighting the same battle, waging the same war, confronting the same evil."

To huge cheers, he said: "Like the United States, Israel did not seek this war. It was forced on us by a savage enemy that glorifies in a culture of death, a culture where murderers are called martyrs and suicide is sanctified."


Jewish groups brought in more than 1,200 busloads of supporters from more than 15 states and Canada to gather in the warm sunshine on the west side of the Capitol.

Holding the sign "Thank you for supporting Israel," Laura Reznick from New Jersey said, "Israel's war and America's war against terror are one in the same."

Several speakers said it was the biggest pro-Israeli rally ever in the United States.

"We reject any theory of moral equivalence that would compare a homicide bomber with her victim, that confuses an act of self defense with the act of terror that provoked it," said House Republican leader Richard Armey of Texas.

"Terrorism must not be supported, condoned, or rewarded as we work for a resolution to this conflict," said House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri.

But the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a statement calling the rally "a desperate attempt to put positive spin on (Israel's) brutal occupation of another people."

Council Director Nihad Awad said the rally would not convince "ordinary Americans that complicity in Israel's denial of Palestinian rights is anything but a strategic liability."

Powell's mission came amid Israel's 17-day offensive in the West Bank and a string of deadly Palestinian suicide bombings. His meetings with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat have yielded little progress.

Several U.S. lawmakers were upset Powell met with Arafat at all and with Bush's call for Israel to stop its incursion.

Bush has declined to label Arafat a terrorist, citing his participation in the Middle East process after the Palestinian leader signed the historic 1993 Oslo peace accords.

(additional reporting by Vicki Allen)

04/15/02 17:39 ET

10) Sharon: Israel to Continue Offensive
.c The Associated Press

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Monday that Israeli troops would press ahead with a campaign against Palestinian militants in two major West Bank towns despite U.S. pleas for a full withdrawal. Israel also grabbed a senior aide to Yasser Arafat whom Sharon says was behind suicide bombings.

But Sharon told President Bush in a telephone conversation Monday that Israeli troops would, within a week, pull out of Jenin and Nablus, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.

Sharon told CNN that Israeli forces would remain indefinitely in Ramallah, where they surround Palestinian leader Arafat's headquarters, and in Bethlehem until Palestinians occupying one of Christianity's holiest sites surrender for trial or exile.

``Altogether, we are on our way out,'' Sharon said of the campaign against Palestinian militants that began March 29.

Early Tuesday Israeli tanks re-entered Tulkarem, one of two towns evacuated April 9. Witnesses said tanks rolled in from four directions, covered by attack helicopters. The military said the incursion was aimed at making arrests, not reoccupying the town.

Also, the military said forces were searching for suspects and weapons in the Askar refugee camp next to Nablus as well as the West Bank villages of Hirbet Beit Hassan, Fara, Luba Sharkiyeh, A-Ram and Anata.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, meanwhile, continued his efforts to calm regional violence, visiting Lebanon and Syria. He also supported an Israeli proposal for a U.S.-led Mideast peace conference, saying it would be ``a way to get the parties together and talking.''

Powell said the United States would not host the conference, which Sharon wants Arafat excluded from.

Arafat said Monday he conditionally accepted the Israeli proposal but, in interview with Fox News, did not address Sharon's demand for his exclusion.

But Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat criticized the idea and said Israel should accept a peace initiative calling for full peace in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from territories captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

U.S. officials said the next Powell-Arafat meeting would be Wednesday. Palestinian officials said the two sides were working on a joint statement. The first draft, obtained by The Associated Press, declares that the Palestinian goal of a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem must be attained ``through negotiations, not terror and violence.''

The statement, meant to be signed by Arafat, also calls for Israel to pull out of Palestinian-controlled areas.

On Monday, members of Powell's delegation met with Palestinian negotiators in the West Bank town of Jericho.

The Israeli withdrawal was far from the complete rollback that the American government is seeking. The two exceptions are Bethlehem, where Israeli forces are engaged in a standoff with more than 200 armed men in the Church of the Nativity, and Ramallah.

Sharon said Israeli forces will not leave Bethlehem until the standoff is over and will not leave Ramallah until those behind the October assassination of Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi are handed over.

In response, Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said, ``We don't plan to deal with these conditions. He must leave every city that has been reoccupied without any conditions. We are not going to bargain with the Israelis over every town and village.''

On Monday, Israeli troops exchanged fire with Palestinians inside the Bethlehem church compound, built over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born.

Two Palestinian policemen - one seriously wounded several days ago and the other reportedly suffering a nervous breakdown - surrendered, witnesses said. They were the first Palestinians to do so during the 12-day standoff.

Sharon told CNN Israel and the United States agree that the armed men inside the church must surrender and those deemed to be connected with terrorism should be tried in Israel or deported, perhaps with British assistance, to an unspecified country. The Palestinians reject that idea.

Pope John Paul II on Monday called the Rev. Ibrahim Faltas, who runs the besieged church. Faltas told The Associated Press the call was ``a message from the pope to support and encourage us,'' and the pope ``thanked us for our deep steadfastness and courage.''

Meanwhile, in Ramallah, elite Israeli troops seized Marwan Barghouti, who Israel says leads the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade responsible for Friday's suicide bombing in a Jerusalem market that killed six people plus the woman bomber.

An elite Israeli force searching for militants captured Barghouti, 41, at the house of Fatah official Ziad Abu Ain, who also was detained, West Bank security chief Jibril Rajoub said. No shots were fired, Israel Radio said.

Israel accuses Barghouti, sometimes mentioned as a possible successor to Arafat, of direct involvement in nine different attacks that have killed 13 Israelis and a Greek Orthodox monk.

In a statement, the military said Barghouti, ``as part of his work ... received large budgets from local and foreign groups, including (funds) authorized by the signature of Yasser Arafat.''

Barghouti is head of the Tanzim, part of Arafat's Fatah organization, and ``was considered the commander and guide of the al Aqsa Brigades, which are blamed for a large number of deadly terrorist attacks in which dozens of Israelis were killed and hundreds injured,'' the military said.

Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Barghouti turned Tanzim into ``the most murderous of the terrorist organizations committing most of the recent attacks against Israel, attacks of all types, but principally suicide attacks including female bombers, shootings and bombings.''

Sharon said that Barghouti ``is responsible for horrible murders of hundreds of Israelis. He will be brought to trial in the state of Israel.''

Barghouti and his nephew, Ahmed, were given to security forces for interrogation, the army said. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told CNN that Marwan Barghouti will be tried in Israel and ``it will be basically open.''

Rajoub warned against harming Marwan Barghouti.

``Killing or humiliating him will bring catastrophes for Israel and will expand the circle of violence,'' he said.

Also in Ramallah, Israeli forces arrested two leaders of the militant Hamas, Jamal Tawil and Fayez Abu Wardeh, Palestinians and the military said.

In the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank, medics drove through rubble-strewn alleys Monday searching for bodies. It might take days to determine accurately how many Palestinians died in the fiercest battle of Israel's offensive.

Israel and the Palestinians have argued over who will retrieve the bodies - part of their dispute over what happened during the weeklong battle. Palestinian officials initially alleged troops killed hundreds of people, including many civilians, in the camp.

Israel estimated about 100 people were killed, most of them gunmen. Soldiers said Sunday they found 40 bodies.

Sharon told CNN he believes casualties in Jenin were in the ``few dozens'' and called claims of a massacre a ``lie.''

``There were very hard battles there, and I think the Israeli forces, not like any other armed forces being involved in a very hard battle, were very careful not to hurt civilians,'' Sharon said. ``We don't have anything to hide there.''

Israel Radio said 14 bodies were found Monday, but only seven were removed because some camp areas remain booby-trapped. Foul smells rose from beneath debris, and some residents have tried digging with their hands to check for people or animals.

Dr. Waiel Kaddam, a Palestinian Red Crescent doctor who was inside the camp, confirmed seven bodies were collected. Medics, he said, were allowed only in one part of the camp, were not allowed to take pictures or film the scene, and lacked equipment needed to get to bodies.

``At the moment, it is very, very difficult,'' Kaddam said. ``It seems that the bodies that we have to move with our hands are under a lot of rubble, and some bodies have ammunition around them.''

04/16/02 00:05 EDT


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