3/21: Urgent Situtation in Palestine
Translation to Arabic | Translation to most European Languages

1) Palestinians fear for their safety in upcoming days (3/20: Palestine Monitor)
2) HEAR PALESTINE (3/20: Palestine)

1) Palestinians fear for their safety in upcoming days; demand guarantees from international community
Date: 3/20/2003 1:46:00 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: palmon@hdip.org

The Palestine Monitor
A PNGO Information Clearinghouse


Palestinians fear for their safety in upcoming days; demand guarantees from
international community

19 March 2003

As a US attack on Iraq draws ever closer, Palestinians in the West Bank and
Gaza Strip are feeling increasingly vulnerable and unprotected, according to
Palestinian civil society organizations.

Fears stem mainly from the knowledge that Israel is likely to impose a
complete lock-down, or curfew, on the Occupied Palestinian Territories -
forcing millions of residents to stay in their homes 24 hours a day for
days - perhaps weeks -- on end. Furthermore, Palestinians point out that
while Israel is ensuring that its own citizens are provided with gas masks
and other equipment in the event of an attack on the region, no such
provisions have been made for Palestinians in the Occupied Territories - in
contravention of Israel's clear obligations under the Geneva Conventions.

During the last US attack on Iraq in 1991, Israel imposed a 24-hour curfew
on the OPT for six weeks - leading to a collapse of the Palestinian economy
and a medical crisis, including an outbreak of measles.

Residents fear that the impact of such a curfew right now would be
devastating on a population already weakened by months of killings, closures
and curfews imposed by the Israeli army.

Access to medical care, education and other social services would be
practically impossible in such a scenario - leaving cancer patients unable
to access treatment, children unable to receive vaccinations, heart attack
victims unable to get to a doctor, women unable to receive pre-natal care or
give birth in a hospital, and kidney patients unable to receive dialysis

According to recent figures published by Johns Hopkins University, 30% of
Palestinian children are already suffering from chronic malnutrition, while
46% of cancer patients needing treatment are unable to access such treatment
and 42% of people needing dialysis or emergency care are unable to access

Appealing to the international community, Palestinian civil society
organizations demanded guarantees that Israel will not escalate attacks on
the civilian population or impose a curfew on the Occupied Palestinian
Territories in the context of a war against Iraq, saying that any such
curfew would not increase security but amount to a collective punishment of
the Palestinian people.

Palestinians also demanded guarantees that medical teams and mobile clinics
would be allowed free access to all areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

For more information contact: The Palestine Monitor +972 (0)2 298 5372
or see http://www.palestinemonitor.org

Thursday, 20 March 2003

**Israeli Army Invades al-Maghazi at Dawn; Demolishes Home
**Nablus: Wide-Scale Israeli Military Operation and Curfew
**Jenin: Curfews and Arrests
**Jericho: Demolition of Homes and Tents
**Qalqilya: Curfew Lifted after 2 Days; Campaign of Raids
**Hebron: Curfew for Third Day Running; Child Wounded
**Ramallah: Settlers Occupy Home by Force in Ein Yabroud

**Palestine: War Over There and War Over Here Too
**"Health", "Electricity", "Communications" Prepare for Emergency

The attack on Iraq began at dawn today (5:30 am Baghdad time). American
rockets targeted a number of civilian locations in Baghdad - customs and
telecommunications buildings. One civilian was killed and 2 others were

The attack is an introduction to the wide-scale American military plan,
which analysts say would move in stages, including dividing Iraq into
various isolated areas for the invading armies to control them one after the
other and not necessarily all at once.

The south, north and west, seem to be the first targets in this wide-scale
military plan, for the protection of Israel (west) and to take over the city
of al-Basra to be used as a base for the invading armies, in preparation for
the next stage of the battle: The control of the capital Baghdad.

Baghdad is in fact the target and not mass destructive weapons.

It is expected that Baghdad would be subjected during the 2 stages of the
military operation to intense shelling, mainly in the west and south.

The architects of war in Washington plan to destroy Iraq and not its weapons
of destruction, as they claim.

This has become clear to everyone, and was clear from the start, since the
military plan was manufactured a few years ago by the same people who occupy
sensitive positions in the current Bush administration and in coordination
with Israel.

The destruction of Iraq and the control of its oil, according to the
manufacturers, is the way to revive the economy of the US and to enable it
to control world economy for decades to come.

The destruction of Iraq means the destruction of its oil and industrial
institutions and infrastructure. This will give American companies a quick
opportunity to reconstruct what American warplanes and bombs destroyed. This
means that these companies will be able to contract deals worth thousands of
billions of dollars, i.e. Iraq's oil will fund these projects for the coming

American oil companies will control Iraq's massive oil reserves and will
prevent other states from using these reserves, even those who signed
agreements with Iraq (such as France, Russia and China).

This way, the US would be able to control the world oil market and to have
power over the OPEC states, mainly the Arab Gulf states and to impose their
own oil policies.

This is clearly the American Zionist aim.

The destruction of Iraq will naturally cause a political earthquake in the
region and many regimes would be shaken. The region would then become
vulnerable (if the US succeeds) and the American-Israeli coalition would be
able to reconstruct and design economic, trade and political relations in
the region in the way that suits it.
The US has concentrated a military force hundreds of times larger than that
used to attack Afghanistan.

Unlike 1991, this time Iraq is being invaded and this time the Iraqi people
stand alone to defend their land, resources, future, freedom and

Iraq and its people are completely alone in defending themselves against the
invaders. Just like the Palestinian people, the Iraqis must use all tools
available to inflict losses on their brutal enemy, no matter how irrelevant
these losses may seem. Even relatively small acts of resistance accumulate
and lead to results.

Palestinians have learnt from experience that the principles of human
rights, democracy and freedom are simply words used by governments of the
"developed" world to serve their own interests, which in most cases are to
control other peoples and to loot their resources.

However, warmongers, who are always after controlling other people's
resources, can be defeated. This can be done simply by long term
self-defense measures like anti-tank and anti-aircraft. This is what the
Vietnamese had done.

With the start of war on Iraq, the Palestinians expect to face conditions,
even more difficult than the past 3 years. The Anglo-American attack against
the Arabs will give Israel's leaders a chance to implement their plans.

In the past 2 weeks, Israel escalated its attacks in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip. Dozens were killed and hundreds injured. The murder of Rachel Corrie,
the American activist who was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer, and the fact
that not even an official apology was issued by the Israeli government, is a
warning sign.

Israel has called 20,000 reserve soldiers, clearly not to prevent a possible
attack by Iraq, since Sharon made it clear that there was "less that 1%
chance" of this happening. The aim is to widen attacks against the
Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Claims being made concerning a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict
are nothing but a cover for the inhumane brutality which will be waged on
the Iraqi people. Palestinians have long disregarded Bush's and Blair's
committees. Upon the request of his good friend Sharon, Bush has repeatedly
retreated from his promises and imposed more conditions on the Palestinians,
making it practically impossible to implement his own vision for the
establishment of a Palestinian independent state.

No doubt, Israel's recent statements concerning their objection to the
establishment of a Palestinian independent state and the withdrawal from the
West Bank and Gaza Strip are signs of Israel's intentions to escalate.

Exactly one year ago, the Palestinians were anticipating a wide-scale
Israeli invasion and reoccupation of the whole of the West Bank, which began
at the end of March 2002 following a number of limited introductory
invasions. Today, the Iraqi people anticipate a similar future.

May strength and patience be with the Palestinian and Iraqi people!


*Israeli Army Invades al-Maghazi at Dawn; Demolishes Home*

The Israeli army, at dawn today, demolished a home and arrested its owner,
during an invasion of al-Maghazi refugee camp, central Gaza Strip. Several
armored vehicles besieged the home of Murad Abu Rukab, arrested him and
demolished his 2-story home after forcing members of his family out without
their belongings. The Israeli army claims that Abu Rukab is wanted.

A number of other homes were destroyed.

Several residents were beaten up by Israeli soldiers and homes were raided
and vandalized.

Dozens of tanks, soldier carriers and bulldozers invaded the refugee camp at
dawn from two sides - 'Netsarim' settlement and the 'Green Line'. Apache
helicopters covered the invasion, and opened heavy machine gun fire.

Israeli soldiers also besieged the home of Abdel Hakim al-Mana'ma, who was
killed last year.

Extremely oppressive measures are practiced against Palestinian civilians at
roadblocks between north and south of the Gaza Strip.

Hundreds of people, mainly children, took part in a demonstration in Rafah
today calling for the protection of Iraqi children.


*Nablus: Wide-Scale Israeli Military Operation and Curfew*

The Israeli army, at noon today, spread intensively in Ashour fields in
Nablus City. Dozens of armored vehicles spread in the area. The home of
al-Shakhshir family was confiscated and transferred into a military base and
observation point. A curfew was imposed on the residents of the area and
Israeli soldiers reportedly open fire at anything the moves.

This morning, the Israeli army re-imposed a curfew on the residents of the
Old City of Nablus. At least one home that belongs to Abu al-Hayat family in
Ras al-Ein area was confiscated and transferred into a military location.
The residential quarter witnesses a heavy Israeli military presence. Israeli
soldiers open fire intermittently.

A 21-year old Eric Williams, an American member of the International
Solidarity movement was wounded with a rubber coated metal bullet in the
back while attempting along with his colleagues and Palestinian residents to
approach Ras al-Ein area. Israeli soldiers fired metal bullets and teargas
bombs at the crowd.

A number of tall buildings in the area were also confiscated and transferred
into military observation points.

Residents in Ras al-Ein and neighboring areas reported that Israeli soldiers
blew up front doors of some of the homes that were raided in search for
"wanted" people. Dozens of residents were held and interrogated under the
same pretext.

The Israeli army is also present in areas east and west of the city and
carries out provocative measures against the residents as well as open fire
to terrify them.

In Balata refugee camp, 7 residents were arrested this morning.

The whole city is closed and lives a state of high tension amidst heavy
Israeli presence.


*Jenin: Curfews and Arrests*

The Israeli army, at dawn today, arrested 3 residents from Zabouba Village
after imposing a curfew on the residents. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas
bombs between the homes, wounding the resident Murad Abu Zaytoun in the

For the second day running, the Israeli army imposes a curfew on the village
of Ya'bid. Israeli soldiers declared a curfew once again today through loud
speakers "until further notice".

At noon, Israeli soldiers demolished a whole room inside a house in Ya'bid.
The resident Ibrahim Hamarsha says he and his family escaped death
miraculously. Several residents reported that the Israeli army is waging a
vicious attack against them. Fences of the homes of Haitham Amarna, Mazin
Abu Aqel and Mahmoud Abu Zarina were demolished. Electricity was cut off in
certain parts of the town as a result of the intentional destruction of
electricity poles by Israeli soldiers. A car that belongs to the resident
Ya'koub al-Amarna was destroyed with a tank.


*Jericho: Demolition of Homes and Tents*

Israeli soldiers demolished a number of homes and tents that belong to
Palestinian residents in Al-Aghwar (Jordan valley) villages. Israeli
soldiers in heavy armored vehicles and bulldozers invaded Marj Ghazal and
Marj Na'ja and al-Zubeidat and demolished a number of homes and tents making
dozens of families homes.

Homes were demolished without warning and under the pretext of "construction
without permit".


*Qalqilya: Curfew Lifted after 2 Days; Campaign of Raids*

The Israeli army lifted the curfew imposed on the city of Qalqilya for the
past 2 days. Before the withdrawal of the Israeli army to the outskirts of
the city, Israeli soldiers brutally raided and searched a number of homes
under the pretext of searching for "wanted" people.

A tight military siege is imposed on the city. Its only entrance continues
to be closed by military roadblocks. Military reinforcements were carried
out in the surroundings of the city and on roads and junctions leading to
surrounding towns and villages and other Palestinian cities. Israeli
soldiers prevent movement from one village to the other.

Azoun Village, east of Qalqilya, continues to be placed under nightly

Bulldozing activities continue to be carried out throughout Qalqilya with an
aim of establishing the "Isolation Wall", which resulted so far in the
destruction and confiscation of 45,000 dunums (1dunum=1000m2) of
agricultural land. 80,000 more dunums of the most fertile land are under
threat of destruction and confiscation and farmers are already deprived from
using several artesian wells.


*Hebron: Curfew for Third Day Running; Child Wounded*

The Israeli army continues to carry out a wide-scale military operation in
Hebron, which has been placed under curfew for 3 days.

Several homes were brutally raided and vandalized in Doura today, in an
ongoing campaign of searches. Israeli soldiers open fire in the town.

Mohammad Kayed (12 years old) was moderately wounded in the face live


*Ramallah: Settlers Occupy Home by Force in Ein Yabroud*

Israeli settlers continue to occupy a home in Ein Yabroud Village, Ramallah.
The settlers forced out the inhabitants (Shehadeh family) of the house under
the threat of weapons.



*Palestine: War Over There and War Over Here Too*
Mohammad Daraghma (Al-Ayam daily newspaper)

Dozens of residents queued yesterday in front of gas stations in the City of
Nablus to purchase gas for heating purposes, in preparation for the
possibility of being placed under curfew for a long period of time, when the
American war is waged on Iraq.

A worker in al-Masri gas station in the city said that the station yesterday
sold 10 times the amount of gas it usually sells.

He said, "Usually we sell 1000 liters daily, but today we sold 10,000
liters, and demand is on the increase."

The Palestinians prepare for war on Iraq, as if war will take place on their
land, expecting that the Israeli government will take advantage of the world
's focus on the war and its devastating repercussions, to carryout
wide-scale operations against them.

The Mayor of Nablus Mahmoud al-Aloul said, "If Sharon had taken advantage of
the preparations for war on Iraq and waged a destructive war here that led
to the death of dozens of people and the demolition of hundreds of homes and
buildings in Nablus and Gaza, what will he do when the war really breaks
out, and the world's attention is focused on the war and nothing else."

The Palestinians expect, at least, to be placed under tightened military
siege and long-term curfew as soon as war breaks out. Others expect a much
worse scenario.

The residents have prepared themselves by storing food.

As for official and popular institutions, they have declared special
preparations to offer necessary livelihood services in case of a long-term
curfew, such as health, nutrition and security.

The Ministry of Health set up health emergency committees in the various
governorates, municipalities established emergency security committees and
the national committees organized special groups to take care of nutrition.

In Nablus City, the largest West Bank city, two emergency centers were set
up, one in Rafidya Hospital, the main and largest hospital in the north of
the West Bank, and the second in the Palestinian Red Crescent headquarters.

A spokesman for the committee said that all hospitals and clinics will offer
free medication during the war.

Health committees were set up in every area, and the needs of patients with
chronic diseases were counted in every residential quarter. The same applies
to all other Palestinian cities.

Local activists worked against spreading rumors concerning the possibility
that Israel would carry out a wide-scale 'transfer' plan in the West Bank
and Gaza Strip.

Local media institutions organized in the various cities, on television
stations and radio, talks with these activists on the issue, in order to
address any fears and illusions which the residents may have.

Several of these speakers called for the cessation of any act that could be
used by Sharon's government as a pretext to wage revengeful brutal attacks
against the unarmed residents such as demolition, killing and collective

The Palestinian street expresses feelings of deep sadness and worry towards
this war, which they see an overt brutality against Iraq, with an aim of
controlling the oil in Iraq and the region.

Mohammad Arda (25 years old) from Askar refugee camp, buying gas from the
gas station said, "If there was no oil in Iraq the Americans would have
never thought of carrying out such an act."

Like many others, Mohammad does not expect that the Israelis to change the
level of their oppression in the Palestinian territories after the break out
of the war.

He said, "There is nothing left for them to do."

Unlike the first American war on Iraq in 1991, when the Palestinians
prepared for the possibility that rockets carrying chemical material would
fall in their areas, their preparations this time centered on nutrition

Nizar Shaheen, owner of a small supermarket in the Old City of Nablus said,
"During the first war, people bought plastic and scotch tape to make sealed
rooms, but today their concerns are limited to food supplies."

The health institution did not pay much attention to supplying chemical
warfare medical equipment, expecting no such attack from Iraq against

As the whole world expresses great interest in this war that exceed interest
expressed in any other war in the past 2 decades, the Palestinians' interest
in the war is double, for the repercussions this would have on them.

Many see an American victory in Iraq, an Israeli victory in Palestine,
regarding the deep and close relationship between the Bush and Sharon

Many experts in the US and the West in general describe this war as the war
of the new conservatives and supporters of Israel in the White House.

Therefore, the Palestinian political spheres have been busy studying
expected results on the Palestinian conflict, and preparing for post-war


*"Health", "Electricity", "Communications" Prepare for Emergency*
Ja'far Sadaqa (Al-Ayam daily newspaper)

By buying a lamp that works on coal oil, yesterday afternoon, Talal As'id,
who lives in Ramallah, had completed his preparations to face expected
Israeli measures in the Palestinian territories, parallel to the American
war against Iraq.

During the past few days, As'id worked hard to secure all that he thinks is
necessary to endure the expected difficult coming days. Apart from food
supplies for the family, such as flour for baking bread at home as opposed
to buying bread from a bakery, he looked for alternatives for electrical
appliances and mobile phone chargers.

"We are accustomed to expect the worst from the Israeli, there is no need to
think too hard of what they could possibly do, they have almost done
everything during the past 2 years," says As'id.

He adds, "We are now used to living inside our homes under curfew, and this
is the least we expect from the Israeli army when war is waged on Iraq. This
time, I expect a cut in basic services such as electricity and
telecommunications; therefore I made sure to purchase some tools and
appliances, like radio and mobile telephone chargers that work on simple
batteries (9 voltz)."

The state of emergency which As'id has been living for days, is a sample of
what Palestinians have been going through, since it became clear that the
American war on Iraq is definite, which simply means that the Israeli army
as usual would place 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
in their homes throughout the war."

Unlike the Gulf War of 1991, window closure plastic tools were not on the
Palestinians' list of purchases, neither were gas masks, which a few
pharmacies displayed.

Their interest was focused on nutrition storage, water and gas, which points
towards the fact that they do not take seriously Israel's propaganda
campaign concerning the possibility of an Iraqi attack with chemical
rockets, what they fear is expected Israeli measures.

Within this state of emergency, the more important measure was taken by the
Ministry of Health with the declaration of a state of extreme emergency in
all its institutions and in private medical institutions and those that
belong to non-governmental organizations.

Dr. Munthir Sharif, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Health said an
emergency supreme committee that includes the ministry, representatives from
the Red Crescent, the UNRWA and private and NGO medical institutions.

Al-Sharif said, "Our main concern is to coordinate our missions in order to
provide medical services to every resident, and in villages that lack
medical centers."

70% of the total Palestinian population live in villages and depend on
cities for their livelihood.

Al-Sharif said that the main obstacle faced by medical teams is the delay on
their movement. He said, "The fear is not Saddam's chemical weapons as
Israel tries to insinuate, but from its expected measures against the

"We will do our best and exert all our energies to practice our duties
without anyone's permission."

Palestinian telephone and electricity companies have also put forward
emergency plans in case of an Israeli attack.

Hear Palestine is a free press service offering daily mailings from the occupied Palestinian territories. Material is analysed and compiled from the Arabic press, radio and television transmissions, and direct interviews by Karma Abu-Sharif.

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