?shall we say, do nothing?
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
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
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
"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
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
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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