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?shall we say, do nothing?

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  • Petros Evdokas
    Friends, The letter below from Mirko, contains an article by the Independent/UK which was suppressed in the mainstream media. Some of you who subscribe to
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2002
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      The letter below from Mirko, contains an article by
      the "Independent/UK" which was suppressed in the
      mainstream media. Some of you who subscribe to
      alternative news sources may have read it already.

      It�s unbearable reading, reading to crush the heart.
      But the discomfort of reading it is by far easier than
      living through the circumstances it describes. It�s
      incredible that real human beings actually went
      through this, and all the signs are that there is more
      of this hell in store for all of us.

      Worst of all is that there are some individuals among
      us who claim that these atrocities are "necessary to
      insure peace".


      Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002
      From: "Vladimir V�gh" <Mirko321@...>
      Subject: ? shall we say, do nothing?

      Throughout the media one may find references to the
      following text/article. Thus I have pasted it here,
      so that all, who are intrested, may read. mirk�


      Published on Thursday, April 25, 2002 in the

      What Really Happened When Israeli Forces Went into
      Just as the world is giving up hope of learning the
      truth, Justin Huggler and Phil Reeves have unearthed
      compelling evidence of an atrocity

      by Justin Huggler and Phil Reeves

      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 neighborhood had been reduced to a
      moonscape, pulverized 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

      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 behavior in the
      occupied territories contradicts this claim � it
      insists that it did everything possible to protect

      But The Independent has unearthed a different story.
      We have found that, while the Israeli operation
      clearly dealt a devastating blow to the militant
      organizations� 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 on 3 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

      Ariel Sharon, Israel's premier, and his ministers
      responded by activating a 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

      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 center 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 of arms � 1,000 infantrymen,
      mostly reservists, accompanied by Merkava tanks,
      armored 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

      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
      organization. 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

      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 civilians.

      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 a 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 said. "I 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. I 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 was 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 he 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 Israelis."

      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 neighbor, 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 plowed into the wall of
      the house, which collapsed on Jamal.

      Although they evacuated significant numbers of
      civilians, the Israelis made 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, a 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

      "It was me and Faris and one other boy, and some women
      I didn't know. Faris 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

      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 wheelchair.

      "After 4pm I pushed him up to the street as usual,"
      said Mr Hassan. "Then I 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 to print them all. Mr Bouckaert,
      the Human Rights Watch researcher, who is preparing
      a report, said the sheer number of these accounts was

      "We've carried out extensive interviews in the camp,
      and the testimonies of 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

      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 � realizing 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 and clinics.

      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 up the neighborhood, 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 graves elsewhere.

      Suspicions abound among the Palestinians that bodies
      have been removed by 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 supreme court.

      Each day, as we interviewed the survivors, there were
      several explosions as 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 to 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 inquiry.

      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.

      � 2002 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd



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