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Photos from Jenin
Palestine, Iraq, Cuba and Venezuela--What's Oil Got to Do With It?
The politics of the covert oil war, 2002 AD
By: Lee Siu Hin, PeaceNoWar.net
1) Democracy Now! (New York, USA)
TUESDAY, APRIL 23
- Inside Arafat's Ramallah Compound: More international
activists slip past Israeli soldiers into Yasser Arafats compound, amid
growing speculation that Israeli forces will break in.
- The Ongoing Siege of the Church of the Nativity: Smoke, gunfire and sound grenades engulf the area around the besieged Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, on the eve of talks between the Israeli army and a team of Palestinian negotiators.
- Israeli Activists Mount a Campaign Against Microsoft: The Israeli peace-bloc (Gush Shalom) sends a letter to Bill Gates after his giant software company posts billboards around Tel Aviv that say, "From the depth of our heart - thanks to The Israeli Defense Forces.
- A Debate About the Roots of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: As Ariel Sharon plans to annex half of the Palestinian West Bank, a look at the history of Israeli settlements, whether Israel was engaged in ethnic cleansing in the 1948 war, and whether Israel was trying to defend itself in the 1967 war.
1) Amnesty International accuses Israel of Jenin war crimes (Reuters)
2) JIMMY CARTER: America Can Persuade Israel to Make a Just Peace (New York Times, USA)
3) Public Voices Doubts On U.S. Mideast Role (Washington Post, USA)
4) ONCE UPON A TIME IN JENIN (The Independent, UK)
5) WORD GAMES AND BODY BAGS (Counter Punch, USA)
6) Israel Attacks Hebron, Six Killed (Palestine Chroncile)
Basing its allegations on statements from Palestinians and what it said was evidence from its own observers who entered the West Bank town minutes after the Israeli withdrawal, Amnesty said it had clear evidence of serious crimes.
"We have concluded, on a preliminary basis, that very serious violations of human rights were committed. We are talking here (about) war crimes," Javier Zuniga, the human rights group's regional director, told a news conference.
"We believe that Israel has a case to answer."
Palestinians say several hundred people may have died during the Jenin offensive, part of an assault on the West Bank launched after scores of Israelis died in a wave of Palestinian suicide bombings.
Israel has come under international pressure over the incursion into the camp, which it described as a nest of terrorists. It says about 70 Palestinians, mostly fighters, died during fierce street battles.
The Israeli army has denied allegations of a "massacre" and said it took every precaution to avoid civilian casualties although it has admitted some were killed in the fighting, which reduced large swathes of the refugee camp to rubble.
CHILDREN AND ELDERLY CAUGHT IN FIGHTING
Kathleen Cavanaugh, a law lecturer from Galway University in Ireland, said Amnesty's charges came under three major areas: the destruction of property, the use of excessive force and its failure to protect civilian refugees living in the town.
She also cited Palestinian witness statements suggesting the army had carried out "a number of extrajudicial executions, particularly at the early stages of its incursion".
Old people and children caught up in the fighting said they had also been given no chance to flee the scenes of the battle, Cavanaugh said.
Forensic pathologist Derrick Pounder from Dundee University in Scotland, who had just returned from Jenin, said the lack of severely injured people admitted to the hospital backed claims that Palestinian doctors and ambulance men had been impeded.
"There were no severely injured in the hospital, and very few corpses. It is inconceivable that, as well as the dead, there were not large numbers of severely injured," said Pounder, who estimated a conflict of this nature and intensity would have produced roughly three badly injured victims to every one dead.
He said he saw 21 Palestinians corpses in Jenin hospital. The casualties were a mixture of civilian and military, he said, and included three women.
One was a 52-year-old man, wearing sandals, who had been shot in the chest, and another 38-year-old, wearing ordinary clothes, had been shot in the back and the top of the foot.
"The claim that only fighters were killed is simply not true," Pounder said. "In Jenin, there have certainly been mass killings - both of combatants and civilians."
Pounder said the refugee camp should now be treated as a crime scene, and a full international team of investigators similar to The Hague Tribunal for former Yugoslavia be allowed in to try and piece together exactly what happened.
Amnesty said it had found no evidence of mass graves or any
support for allegations that women had been raped by troops.
When the election was over, I made a strong effort to persuade the leaders of Hamas to accept the election results, with Mr. Arafat as their leader. I relayed a message offering them full participation in the process of developing a permanent constitutional framework for the new political entity, but they refused to accept this proposal. Despite this rejection, it was a time of peace and hope, and there was no threat of violence or even peaceful demonstrations. The legal status of the Palestinian people has not changed since then, but their plight has grown desperate.
Ariel Sharon is a strong and forceful man and has never equivocated in his public declarations nor deviated from his ultimate purpose. His rejection of all peace agreements that included Israeli withdrawal from Arab lands, his invasion of Lebanon, his provocative visit to the Temple Mount, the destruction of villages and homes, the arrests of thousands of Palestinians and his open defiance of President George W. Bush's demand that he comply with international law have all been orchestrated to accomplish his ultimate goals: to establish Israeli settlements as widely as possible throughout occupied territories and to deny Palestinians a cohesive political existence.
There is adequate blame on the other side. Even when he was free and enjoying the full trappings of political power, Yasir Arafat never exerted control over Hamas and other radical Palestinians who reject the concept of a peaceful Israeli existence and adopt any means to accomplish their goal. Mr. Arafat's all-too-rare denunciations of violence have been spasmodic, often expressed only in English and likely insincere. He may well see the suicide attacks as one of the few ways to retaliate against his tormentors, to dramatize the suffering of his people, or as a means for him, vicariously, to be a martyr.
Tragically, the policies of Mr. Sharon have greatly strengthened these
criminal elements, enhanced their popular support, and encouraged misguided
young men and women to sacrifice their own lives in attacking innocent Israeli
citizens. The abhorrent suicide bombings are also counterproductive in that
they discredit the Palestinian cause, help perpetuate the military occupation
and destruction of villages, and obstruct efforts toward peace and justice.
The situation is not hopeless. There is an ultimate avenue to peace in the implementation of United Nations resolutions, including Resolution 242, expressed most recently in the highly publicized proposal of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah. The basic premises of these resolutions are withdrawal of Israelis from Palestinian lands in exchange for full acceptance of Israel and Israel's right to live in peace. This is a reasonable solution for many Israelis, having been accepted in 1978 by Prime Minister Menachem Begin and ratified by the Israeli Knesset. Egypt, offering the greatest threat to Israel, responded by establishing full diplomatic relations and honoring Israeli rights, including unimpeded use of the Suez canal. This set a pattern for what can and must be done by all other Arab nations. Through constructive negotiations, both sides can consider some modifications of the 1967 boundary lines.
East Jerusalem can be jointly administered with unimpeded access to holy places, and the right of return can be addressed by permitting a limited number of displaced Palestinians to return to their homeland with fair compensation to others. It will be a good investment for the international community to pay this cost.
With the ready and potentially unanimous backing of the international community, the United States government can bring about such a solution to the existing imbroglio. Demands on both sides should be so patently fair and balanced that at least a majority of citizens in the affected area will respond with approval, and an international force can monitor compliance with agreed peace terms, as was approved for the Sinai region in 1979 following Israel's withdrawal from Egyptian territory.
There are two existing factors that offer success to United States persuasion. One is the legal requirement that American weapons are to be used by Israel only for defensive purposes, a premise certainly being violated in the recent destruction of Jenin and other villages. Richard Nixon imposed this requirement to stop Ariel Sharon and Israel's military advance into Egypt in the 1973 war, and I used the same demand to deter Israeli attacks on Lebanon in 1979. (A full invasion was launched by Ariel Sharon after I left office). The other persuasive factor is approximately $10 million daily in American aid to Israel. President George Bush Sr. threatened this assistance in 1992 to prevent the building of Israeli settlements between Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
I understand the extreme political sensitivity in America of using persuasion on the Israelis, but it is important to remember that none of the actions toward peace would involve an encroachment on the sovereign territory of Israel. They all involve lands of the Egyptians, Lebanese and Palestinians, as recognized by international law.
The existing situation is tragic and likely to get worse. Normal diplomatic efforts have failed. It is time for the United States, as the sole recognized intermediary, to consider more forceful action for peace. The rest of the world will welcome this leadership.
Jimmy Carter, the former president, is chairman of the Carter Center, which works worldwide to advance peace and human health.
A narrow majority -- 54 percent -- said the United States should stand aside and let Israel and the Palestinian Authority take the lead role in crafting a peace agreement. Six in 10 say they want Israel to negotiate directly with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to end the current conflict -- a move rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
A majority also fault both sides for failing to control the bloodshed that has enveloped the region in recent months, the survey found. Most Americans blame Israel for not doing enough to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties during its military incursion into the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But an even larger majority fault Arafat for not doing more to end the wave of terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens.
In question after question, the poll suggests the American public is frustrated and largely confused about what, if anything, the United States can or should do to bring Israel and the Palestinians closer to peace. Many Americans doubt that either side is truly serious about reaching an agreement.
The survey also suggests that the Bush administration will get little guidance from the public as it plots its next move in the Middle East. On the one hand, Bush would appear to have a relatively free hand in setting policy. On the other hand, most Americans agree that the United States has a "vital interest" in the Israeli-Palestinian situation. That suggests the public could punish the administration if the conflict worsens.
"I don't know that there can be a resolution at this time. I think they both are so set in what they want, and it's so opposite," said Paula Schapp, 34, a homemaker who lives in Tulsa. "I am pretty open to see what [the Bush administration] tries next, because I don't know what I would do if I was in control."
"I think we should be a little bit more aggressive," said Cruz Castro, 45, a construction worker in Sacramento. "The U.S. has already put itself up on the table as a leader for peace. So it has to get involved . . . it can't lay back and watch these two countries rip each other apart."
The survey found that many Americans question the motives of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority. More than four in 10 -- 43 percent -- believe Israel's goal is to seize control of the West Bank and Gaza. But the public was equally suspicious of Arafat and the Palestinian Authority: 43 percent said the goal of the Palestinians was to "destroy the state of Israel."
These mixed, ambivalent views also are reflected in the public's evaluation of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's trip last week to the Middle East. Barely four in 10 said Powell's trip improved the prospects of peace, while half said it did not.
But few blame Powell or President Bush for the mission's failure. Among those who felt no progress was made, the overwhelming majority blamed either the Palestinians (31 percent) Israel (15 percent) or both sides equally (30 percent) rather than faulting Powell (11 percent).
Even more ambivalence is apparent when Americans are asked to look to the future. If Israel continues to defy Bush and refuses to withdraw entirely from Palestinian areas it recently occupied, about half of those interviewed said the United States should withhold military or economic aid from Israel -- but just as many disagreed.
And when asked whether the United States should give economic aid to the Palestinian Authority if it makes peace with Israel, 47 percent said yes -- and 47 percent said no.
A total of 1,207 randomly selected adults were interviewed April 18 to 21. Margin of sampling error for the overall results is plus or minus 3 percentage points.
The survey held large doses of good and bad news for the Bush administration, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Bush continues to enjoy the confidence of most Americans. His overall job approval rating stands at 78 percent, unchanged in the past month. Seven in 10 approve of the way he is handling foreign affairs. A smaller majority -- 57 percent -- approve of the way Bush is handling the current "situation between Israel and the Palestinians." About six in 10 respondents said the United States is doing enough to arrange a peace agreement.
But the survey contained cautions for Bush. Most Americans would prefer that the United States take a secondary role in arranging a peace agreement. And a small majority -- 54 percent -- fear that U.S. support for Israel will hurt the broader U.S.-led war on international terrorism.
The survey also contained mixed news for Israel and the Palestinians. Americans are more sympathetic to Israel (49 percent) than to the Palestinians (14 percent). These warm feelings appear to be largely unchanged since October, when 52 percent expressed sympathy for Israel.
Most Americans also blame Palestinians more than Israel for the recent violence and said Israel was justified in sending troops into Palestinian neighborhoods and refugee camps. A majority of Americans -- 60 percent -- also said the United States should continue to support Israel at current levels, while 16 percent said the support should be increased. Still, there has been some erosion: The proportion who said the United States should reduce support for Israel has increased from 13 percent to 21 percent since October.
Six in 10 fault Israel for failing to do enough to avoid civilian casualties during its three-week-old military incursion into the West Bank and Gaza. But nine in 10 Americans said Arafat "can do more" to end terrorist attacks against Israel -- and three in four said Arafat was responsible for the attacks.
The survey found that support for a Palestinian state has increased 13 percentage points to 68 percent since early October. Even among those who were more sympathetic to Israel, 63 percent said the United States should formally grant the Palestinians recognition as an independent nation.
Just as the world is giving up hope of learning the truth, Justin Huggler
and Phil Reeves have unearthed compelling evidence of an atrocity
The thought was as unshakable as the stench wafting from the ruins. Was
this really about counterterrorism? Was it revenge? Or was it an episode --
the nastiest so far -- in a long war by Ariel Sharon, the staunch opponent
of the Oslo accords, to establish Israel's presence in the West Bank as
permanent, and force the Palestinians into final submission?
A neighbourhood had been reduced to a moonscape, pulverised under the
tracks of bulldozers and tanks. A maze of cinder-block houses, home to
about 800 Palestinian families, had disappeared. What was left -- the piles
of broken concrete and scattered belongings -- reeked.
The rubble in Jenin reeked, literally, of rotting human corpses, buried
underneath. But it also gave off the whiff of wrongdoing, of an army and a
government that had lost its bearings. "This is horrifying beyond belief,"
said the United Nations' Middle East envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, as he gazed
at the scene. He called it a "blot that will forever live on the history of
the state of Israel" -- a remark for which he was to be vilified by
Israelis. Even the painstakingly careful United States envoy, William
Burns, was unusually outspoken as he trudged across the ruins. "It's
obvious that what happened in Jenin refugee camp has caused enormous
suffering for thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians," he said.
The Israeli army insists that its devastating invasion of the refugee camp
in Jenin earlier this month was intended to root out the infrastructure of
the Palestinian militias, particularly the authors of an increasingly
vicious series of suicide attacks on Israelis. It now says the dead were
mostly fighters. And, as always -- although its daily behaviour in the
occupied territories contradicts this claim -- it insists that it did
everything possible to protect civilians.
But The Independent has unearthed a different story. We have found that,
while the Israeli operation clearly dealt a devastating blow to the
militant organisations -- in the short term, at least -- nearly half of the
Palestinian dead who have been identified so far were civilians, including
women, children and the elderly. They died amid a ruthless and brutal
Israeli operation, in which many individual atrocities occurred, and which
Israel is seeking to hide by launching a massive propaganda drive.
The assault on Jenin refugee camp by Israel's armed forces began early
April. One week earlier, 30 miles to the west in the Israeli coastal town
of Netanya, a Hamas suicide bomber had walked into a hotel and blown up a
roomful of people as they were sitting down to celebrate the Passover
feast. This horrific slaughter on one of the holiest days in the Jewish
calendar killed 28 people, young and old, making it the worst Palestinian
attack of the intifada, a singularly evil moment even by the standards of
the long conflict between the two peoples.
Ariel Sharon, Israel's premier, and his ministers responded by activating
plan that had long lain on his desk. Operation Defensive Shield was to
become the largest military offensive by Israel since the 1967 war. Jenin
refugee camp was high on the list of targets. Home to about 13,000 people,
it was the heartland of violent resistance to Israel's 35-year occupation.
The graffiti-covered walls bellowed the slogans of Hamas, Fatah and Islamic
Jihad; radical Islamists and secular nationalists worked side by side,
burying differences in the name of the intifada. According to Israel, 23
suicide bombers had come out of the camp, which was a centre for
bomb-making. Yet there were also many, many civilians. People such as Atiya
Rumeleh, Afaf Desuqi and Ahmad Hamduni.
The army was expecting a swift victory. It had overwhelming superiority
arms -- 1,000 infantrymen, mostly reservists, accompanied by Merkava tanks,
armoured vehicles, bulldozers and Cobra helicopters, armed with missiles
and heavy machine guns. Ranged against this force were about 200
Palestinians, with members of the militias -- Hamas, al-Aqsa brigades and
Islamic Jihad -- fighting alongside Yasser Arafat's security forces, mostly
armed with Kalashnikovs and explosives.
The fight put up by the Palestinians shocked the soldiers. Eight days after
entering, the Israeli army finally prevailed, but at a heavy price.
Twenty-three soldiers were killed, 13 of them wiped out by an ambush, and
an unknown number of Palestinians died. And a large residential area --
400m by 500m -- lay utterly devastated; scenes that the Israeli authorities
knew at once would outrage the world as soon as they hit the TV screens.
"We were not expecting them to fight so well," said one exhausted-looking
Israeli reservist as he packed up to head home. Journalists and
humanitarian workers were kept away for five more days while the Israeli
army cleaned up the area, after the serious fighting ended on 10 April.
The Independent spent five days conducting long, detailed interviews of
survivors among the ruins of the refugee camp, accompanied by Peter
Bouckaert, a senior researcher for the Human Rights Watch organisation.
Many of the interviews were conducted in buildings that were on the verge
of collapse, in living rooms where one entire wall had been ripped off by
the bulldozers and that were open to the street.
An alarming picture has emerged of what took place. So far, 50 of the dead
have been identified. The Independent has a list of names. Palestinians
were happy, even proud, to tell us which of the dead were fighters for
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aqsa brigades; which belonged to their
security forces; and which were civilians. They identified nearly half as
Not all the civilians were cut down in crossfire. Some, according to
eyewitness accounts, were deliberately targeted by Israeli forces. Sami Abu
Sba'a told us how his 65-year-old father, Mohammed Abu Sba'a, was shot dead
by Israeli soldiers after he warned the driver of an approaching bulldozer
that his house was packed with families sheltering from the fighting. The
bulldozer turned back, said Mr Abu Sba'a -- but his father was almost
immediately shot in the chest where he stood.
Israeli troops also shot dead a Palestinian nurse as she tried to help
wounded man. Hani Rumeleh, a 19-year-old civilian, had been shot as he
tried to look out of his front door. Fadwa Jamma, a nurse staying with her
sister in a house nearby, heard Hani's screaming and came to help. Her
sister, Rufaida Damaj, who also ran to help, was wounded but survived. From
her bed in Jenin hospital, she told us what happened.
"We were woken at 3.30 in the morning by a big explosion," she
heard that one guy was wounded outside our house. So my sister and I went
to do our duty and to help the guy and give him first aid. There were some
guys from the resistance outside and we had to ask them before we moved
anywhere. I told them that my sister was a nurse, I asked them to let us go
to the wounded.
"Before I had finished talking to the guys the Israelis started shooting.
got a bullet in my leg and I fell down and broke my knee. My sister tried
to come and help me. I told her, 'I'm wounded.' She said, 'I'm wounded
too.' She had been shot in the side of her abdomen. Then they shot her
again in the heart. I asked where she was wounded but she didn't answer,
she made a terrible sound and tried to breathe three times."
Ms Jamma was wearing a white nurse's uniform clearly marked with a red
crescent, the emblem of Palestinian medical workers, when the soldiers shot
her. Ms Damaj said the soldiers could clearly see the women because they
were standing under a bright light, and could hear their cries for help
because they were "very near". As Ms Damaj shouted to the Palestinian
fighters to get help, the Israeli soldiers fired again: a second bullet
went up through her leg into her chest.
Eventually an ambulance was allowed through to rescue Ms Damaj. Her sister
was already dead. It was to be one of the last times an ambulance was
allowed near the wounded in Jenin camp until after the battle ended. Hani
Rumeleh was taken to hospital, but he was dead. For his stepmother,
however, the tragedy had only just begun; the next day, her 44-year-old
husband Atiya, also a civilian, was killed.
As she told his story, her orphaned children clung to her side. "There
shooting all around the house. At about 5pm I went to check the building. I
told my husband two bombs had come into the house. He went to check. After
two minutes he called me to come, but he was having difficulty calling. I
went with the children. He was still standing. In my life I've never seen
the way he looked at me. He said, 'I'm wounded', and started bleeding from
his mouth and nose. The children started crying, and he fell down. I asked
him what happened but he couldn't talk.
"His eyes went to the children. He looked at them one by one. Then
looked at me. Then all his body was shaking. When I looked, there was a
bullet in his head. I tried to call an ambulance, I was screaming for
anybody to call an ambulance. One came but it was sent back by the
It was Thursday 4 April, and the blockade against recovering the wounded
had begun. With the fighting raging outside, Ms Rumeleh could not go out of
the house to fetch help. Eventually she made a rope out of headscarves and
lowered her seven-year-old son Mohammed out of the back window to go and
seek help. The family, fearful of being shot if they ventured out, were
trapped indoors with the body for a week.
A few doors away, we heard the story of Afaf Desuqi. Her sister, Aysha,
told us how the 52-year-old woman was killed when the Israeli soldiers
detonated a mine to blow the door of her house open. Ms Desuqi had heard
the soldiers coming and gone to open the door. She showed us the remains of
the mine, a large metal cylinder. The family screamed for an ambulance, but
none was allowed through.
Ismehan Murad, another neighbour, told us the soldiers had been using her
as a human shield when they blew the front door off the Desuqi house. They
came to the young woman's house first, and ordered her to go ahead of them,
so that they would not be fired on.
Jamal Feyed died after being buried alive in the rubble. His uncle, Saeb
Feyed, told us that 37-year-old Jamal was mentally and physically disabled,
and could not walk. The family had already moved him from house to house to
avoid the fighting. When Mr Feyed saw an Israeli bulldozer approaching the
house where his nephew was, he ran to warn the driver. But the bulldozer
ploughed into the wall of the house, which collapsed on Jamal.
Although they evacuated significant numbers of civilians, the Israelis
use of others as human shields. Rajeh Tawafshi, a 72-year-old man, told us
that the soldiers tied his hands and made him walk in front of them as they
searched house to house. Moments before, they had shot dead Ahmad Hamduni,
a man in his eighties, before Mr Tawafshi's eyes. Mr Hamduni had sought
shelter in Mr Tawafshi's house, but the Israeli soldiers had blown the door
open. Part of the metal door landed next to the two men. Mr Hamduni was
hunched with age, and Mr Tawafshi thinks the soldiers may have mistakenly
thought he was wearing a suicide-bomb belt. They shot him on sight.
Even children were not immune from the Israeli onslaught. Faris Zeben,
14-year-old boy, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in cold blood. There was
not even any fighting at the time. The curfew on Jenin had been lifted for
a few hours and the boy went to buy groceries. This was on Thursday 11
April. Faris's eight-year-old brother, Abdel Rahman, was with him when he
died. Nervously picking at his cardigan, his eyes on the ground, the child
told us what happened.
"It was me and Faris and one other boy, and some women I didn't know.
told me to go home but I refused. We were going in front of the tank. Then
we saw the front of the tank move towards us and I was scared. Faris told
me to go home but I refused. The tank started shooting and Faris and the
other boy ran away. I fell down. I saw Faris fall down, I thought he just
fell. Then I saw blood on the ground so I went to Faris. Then two of the
women came and put Faris in a car."
Abdel Rahman showed us where it happened. We paced it out: the tank had
been about 80m away. He said there was only one burst of machine-gun fire.
He imitated the sound it made. The soldiers in the tank gave no warning, he
said. And after they shot Faris they did nothing.
Fifteen-year-old Mohammed Hawashin was shot dead as he tried to walk
through the camp. Aliya Zubeidi told us how she was on her way to the
hospital to see the body of her son Ziad, a militant from the Al-Aqsa
brigades, who had been killed in the fighting. Mohammed accompanied her. "I
heard shooting," said Ms Zubeidi. "The boy was sitting in the door. I
thought he was hiding from the bullets. Then he said, 'Help.' We couldn't
do anything for him. He had been shot in the face."
In a deserted road by the periphery of the refugee camp, we found the
flattened remains of a wheelchair. It had been utterly crushed, ironed flat
as if in a cartoon. In the middle of the debris lay a broken white flag.
Durar Hassan told us how his friend, Kemal Zughayer, was shot dead as he
tried to wheel himself up the road. The Israeli tanks must have driven over
the body, because when Mr Hassan found it, one leg and both arms were
missing, and the face, he said, had been ripped in two.
Mr Zughayer, who was 58, had been shot and wounded in the first Palestinian
intifada. He could not walk, and had no work. Mr Hassan showed us the
pitiful single room where his friend lived, the only furnishing a filthy
mattress on the floor. Mr Zughayer used to wheel himself to the petrol
station where Mr Hassan worked every day, because he was lonely. Mr Hassan
did his washing; it was he who put the white flag on Mr Zughayer's
"After 4pm I pushed him up to the street as usual," said Mr Hassan.
heard the tanks coming, there were four or five. I heard shooting, and I
thought they were just firing warning shots to tell him to move out of the
middle of the road." It was not until the next morning that Mr Hassan went
to check what had happened. He found the flattened wheelchair in the road,
and Mr Zughayer's mangled body some distance away, in the grass.
The Independent has more such accounts. There simply is not enough space
print them all. Mr Bouckaert, the Human Rights Watch researcher, who is
preparing a report, said the sheer number of these accounts was convincing.
"We've carried out extensive interviews in the camp, and the testimonies
dozens of witnesses are entirely consistent with each other about the
extent and the types of abuses that were carried out in the camp," said Mr
Bouckaert, who has investigated human-rights abuses in a dozen war zones,
including Rwanda, Kosovo and Chechnya. "Over and over again witnesses have
been giving similar accounts of atrocities that were committed. Many of the
people who were killed were young children or elderly people. Even in the
cases of young men; in Palestinian society, relatives are quite forthcoming
when young men are fighters. They take pride that their young men are
so-called 'martyrs'. When Palestinian families claim their killed relatives
were civilians we give a high degree of credibility to that."
The events at Jenin -- which have passed almost unquestioned inside Israel
-- have created a crisis in Israel's relations with the outside world.
Questions are now being asked increasingly in Europe over whether Ariel
Sharon is, ultimately, fighting a "war on terror", or whether he is trying
to inflict a defeat that will end all chance of a Palestinian state. These
suspicions grew still stronger this week as pictures emerged of the damage
inflicted by the Israeli army elsewhere in the West Bank during the
operation: the soldiers deliberately trashed institutions of Palestinian
statehood, such as the ministries of health and education.
To counter the international backlash, the Israeli government has launched
an enormous public-relations drive to justify the operation in Jenin. Their
efforts have been greatly helped by the Palestinian leadership, who
instantly, and without proof, declared that a massacre had occurred in
which as many as 500 died. Palestinian human-rights groups made matters
worse by churning out wild, and clearly untrue, stories.
No holds are barred in the Israeli PR counterattack. The army -- realising
that many journalists will not bother, or are unable, to go to Jenin -- has
even made an Orwellian attempt to alter the hard, physical facts on the
ground. It has announced that the published reports of the devastated area
are exaggerated, declaring it to be a mere 100m square -- about
one-twentieth of its true area.
One spokesman, Major Rafi Lederman, a brigade chief of staff, told a press
conference on Saturday that the Israeli armed forces did not fire missiles
from its Cobra helicopters -- a claim dismissed by a Western military
expert who has toured the wrecked camp with one word: "Bollocks." There
were, said the major, "almost no innocent civilians" -- also untrue.
The chief aim of the PR campaign has been to redirect the blame elsewhere.
Israeli officials accuse UNWRA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, for
allowing a "terrorist infrastructure" to evolve in a camp under its
administration without raising the alarm. UNWRA officials wearily point out
that it does not administer the camp; it provides services, mainly schools
The Israeli army has lashed out at the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) and Palestinian Red Crescent, whose ambulances were barred
from entering the camp for six days, from 9 to 15 April. It has accused
them of refusing to allow the army to search their vehicles, and of
smuggling out Palestinians posing as wounded. The ICRC has dismissed all
these claims as nonsense, describing the ban -- which violates the Geneva
Convention -- as "unacceptable".
The Israeli army says it bulldozed buildings after the battle ended, partly
because they were heavily booby trapped but also because there was a danger
of them collapsing on to its soldiers or Palestinian civilians. But after
the army bulldozers withdrew, The Independent found many families,
including children, living in badly damaged homes that were in severe
danger of collapse.
The thrust of Israel's PR drive is to argue that the Palestinians blew
the neighbourhood, compelling the army to knock it down. It is true that
there were a significant number of Palestinian booby traps around the camp,
but how many is far from clear. Booby traps are a device typically used by
a retreating force against an advancing one. Here, the Palestinian fighters
had nowhere to go.
What is beyond dispute is that the misery of Jenin is not over. There are
Palestinians still searching for missing people, although it is not clear
whether they are in Israeli detention, buried deep under the rubble, or in
Suspicions abound among the Palestinians that bodies have been removed
the Israeli army. They cite the Israeli army's differing statements about
the death toll during the Jenin operation -- first it said it thought that
there were around 100 Palestinian dead; then it said hundreds of dead and
wounded; and, finally, only dozens. More disturbingly, Israeli military
sources originally said there was a plan to move bodies out of the camp and
bury them in a "special cemetery". They now say that the plan was shelved
after human-rights activists challenged it successfully at the Israeli
Each day, as we interviewed the survivors, there were several explosions
people trod on unexploded bombs and rockets that littered the ruined camp.
One hour after Fadl Musharqa, 42, had spoken with us about the death of his
brother, he was rushed to the hospital, his foot shattered after he stepped
on an explosive.
A man came up to us in the hospital holding out something in the palm of
his hand. They were little, brown, fleshy stumps: the freshly severed toes
of his 10-year-old son, who had stepped on some explosives. The boy lost
both legs and an arm. The explosives that were left behind were both the
Palestinians' crude pipe bombs and the Israelis' state-of-the-art
explosives: the bombs and mines with which they blew open doors, the
helicopter rockets they fired into civilian homes.
These are the facts that the Israeli government does not want the world
know. To them should be added the preliminary conclusion of Amnesty
International, which has found evidence of severe abuses of human rights --
including extra-judicial executions -- and has called for a war crimes
At the time of writing, Israel has withdrawn its co-operation from a
fact-finding mission dispatched by the UN Security Council to find out what
happened in Jenin. This is, given what we now know about the crimes
committed there, hardly surprising.
Copyright © 2002 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd
5) WORD GAMES AND BODY BAGS
'Tells the Facts and Names the Names'
Monday, 22 April, 2002
by Irit Katriel
Only an unbelievably brutal world can look at the remains of what was once
home for 13,000 impoverished 1948 Palestinian refugees, scratch its head
and say "we don't know what actually happened in the Jenin refugee camp."
The camp is now described by the media as an "earthquake zone" -- a natural
disaster of sorts. Unlike real earthquake zones, you don't see massive
search and rescue teams in this one (Israel's rescue team, which aided in
Istanbul and Kenya, is probably busy doing something else). Only the
survivors and a handful of Red Crescent workers are there to search the
rubble for the corpses, guided by their stench. Man made earthquakes do
not, apparently, warrant real relief efforts.
On April 9th, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported on its website that
"Foreign Minister Shimon Peres is very worried about the expected
international reaction as soon as the world learns the details of the tough
battle in the Jenin refugee camp." It added that Israeli Defense Force
(IDF) officers have similar worries: "The bulldozers are simply 'shaving'
the homes and causing terrible destruction. When the world sees the
pictures of what we have done there, it will do us immense damage."
"It will do us immense damage" is the closest that official Israel
to expressing shock or remorse.
The next day, the London Guardian reported that Germany suspended arms
sales to Israel. "The reports about the Israeli troops' conduct are
shocking," said Schroeder's minister of development aid. On the same day,
the European Parliament adopted a resolution that called for the suspension
of trade agreements between the EU and Israel. Later, UN Secretary General
Kofi Annan said that "the situation is so dangerous and the humanitarian
and human rights situation so appalling . . . an affront to the conscience
of mankind" that the dispatching of an international force to the area
under the auspices of the UN "can no longer be deferred." Schroeder
supported discussing the idea, the US and Israel as usual opposed (Agence
France Press, April 12). Even the British foreign minister summoned the
Israeli ambassador and said he was "disturbed" by reports from Jenin (This
Is London, April 13).
That was last week, when we knew what was happening in Jenin. But since
then, the Israeli "damage control" apparatus has changed that. Now we don't
know. We need a UN "fact finding" committee to find out why an Israeli tank
and helicopter attack on a densely populated refugee camp ended up like an
earthquake. As if Sharon was absolved merely by the decision to appoint the
"fact finding" committee, the criticism from foreign governments seems to
have faded into thin air.
The media, after a series of shocking reports ("A monstrous war crime,"
"The sickly sweet smell of death," "The camp that became a
slaughterhouse"), gradually turned more technical, unemotional,
formalistic, legislative. The mumbling began around April 16th. The
Guardian's editorial that day, titled "The battle for truth: What really
happened in Jenin camp?" describes at length the extensive destruction and
death in the camp. It points out that "if the leaders of the 'international
community' had been more resolute Mr. Sharon would have been no more able
to mount his West Bank invasion than Hamas would have been allowed to
pursue its suicidal attacks." But then it calls for an investigation to
find out "is [Sharon] guilty, as the Palestinians claim, of a heinous and
exceptional crime? In short, what really happened inside Jenin?"
What happened in Jenin? Was it a heinous and exceptional crime? Or just
ordinary one? The world needs to know. We need to find the exact
definitions for what was done, and to identify which precise clauses of
international law were violated. Before that is done, we cannot take a
The name of the game now is "there was no massacre." Palestinian
eyewitnesses who escaped the camp reported that people were summarily
executed and their bodies disposed of (e.g., The Guardian, April 11).
Israel denies that. This is what we should talk about now: was there a
proper massacre or not. If hundreds of people were killed in a different
manner, such as by being under curfew in their home when it was bulldozed
or bombed, that's not a massacre. And the only question in our word game
today is, "was there a massacre?" Ha'aretz, the newspaper of choice of the
"intellectual elite" in Israel, joined the choir with its editorial of
April 19. There was no massacre, they say, because "No order from above was
given, nor was a local initiative executed, to deliberately and
systematically kill unarmed people." An old timer in apologetic liberalism.
There wasn't an order to systematically kill, so the corpses should not be
billed to our account.
Ha'aretz doesn't question the operation itself. It also doesn't question
the occupation. It doesn't say what we know, but are so easily made to
forget: The 35 year long occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is a crime.
Israel has no right and no justification to invade occupied towns and
destroy them, regardless of what "exactly" happened in Jenin. Ha'aretz also
doesn't put the destruction of the camp in the context of the statements by
Israeli government ministers who openly speak about ethnic cleansing of the
occupied territories (e.g., minister Effie Eitam: "I think our Jewish
conscience will be clean if we say [to the Palestinians], 'you brought war
and in war there are great human tragedies,' . . . They will cross the
river and go to Jordan." AP, April 8).
It is reasonable to assume that the UN "fact finding" committee
into these issues either. This is why it will have very little impact on
the prospects of preventing Sharon's next earthquake. In the meantime,
while the committee will "find facts" and the 13,000 second-time-refugees
of Jenin will try to survive, the man with the smoking gun in his hand who
promises only more of the same, is given a green light to go on by an
unbelievably brutal world which is playing with words.
Irit Katriel is an Israeli activist, currently living in Germany. This
article originally appeared in Dissident Voice, a semi-regular newsletter
dedicated to challenging the lies of the corporate press and the privileged
classes it serves. Email: email@example.com
Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. CounterPunch is a project of the
Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity.
6) Israel Attacks Hebron, Six Killed
Thursday, April 25 2002
By PalestineChronicle.com Reporter
HEBRON, West Bank: Several Palestinians were killed today, when Israeli forces assaulted the West Bank town of Hebron, in an apparent attempt to detain activists. Palestinian fighters and residents confronted the invading forces, which resulted in the death of 5 Palestinian policemen and one civilian.
Hebron, along with Jericho, were the only major West Bank cities that were not included in the massive Israeli military assault on the West Bank in the last 3 weeks.
According to eyewitness accounts, nearly 20 army vehicles were used in the Israeli assault on Hebron.
The Israeli army did not comment on the reason behind the assault. But Palestinian officials say that an invasion of Hebron was expected as part of the Israeli governments master plan to subdue the West Bank and to destroy the Palestinian Authoritys infrastructure.
Earlier Thursday, the Israeli army said soldiers in the Gaza Strip shot and killed four Palestinians trying to infiltrate the Jewish settlement of Kfar Darom.
In Gaza Wednesday, Israeli soldiers killed three armed Palestinian boys who were trying to enter a Jewish settlement. The 13- and 14-year-old classmates left behind notes indicating they knew their action would be fatal.
In Bethlehem Wednesday, shooting broke out at the Church of the Nativity as Israeli and Palestinian officials began more talks aimed at ending the stand-off at the Christian shrine.
A Palestinian man wounded during the exchange later died in a hospital. A second Palestinian and one Israeli soldier also were wounded. The talks ended with no resolution to the stand-off.
Witnesses say that after the shooting, Israeli soldiers briefly detained at least three journalists at the scene.
Earlier, another Palestinian man wounded in the church by Israeli army snipers was evacuated to a hospital. Two Palestinian policeman who said they were sick left the church and surrendered to Israeli forces.
About 200 people, including a few fighters and church workers, have been
under siege in the Bethlehem shrine since April second. Israel says the
fighters must either surrender and stand trial in Israel or go into exile
outside the occupied territories. Palestinians reject that and instead suggest
the wanted men be escorted to the Gaza Strip.