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Iraq: Children's Hospital Bombed

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  • ummyakoub
    Dear Friends, Since the last update, several of our people have left Iraq, most of them ordered out of the country by Iraqi officials. Many if them were in
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 3, 2003
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      Dear Friends,

      Since the last update, several of our people have left Iraq, most of
      them ordered out of the country by Iraqi officials. Many if them
      were in Iraq as volunteers for the Chicago based Christian Peacemaker
      Teams. An Associated Press report of the expulsion and team's
      eventful journey to Jordan follows.

      We have had almost no contact with our team in Baghdad over the last
      few days. However, an email from Kathy Kelly managed to find its way
      to our inbox this morning:

      "Cathy Breen and I visited Amal at the home of her friends, having
      heard that her home had been further destroyed by ongoing bombing.
      She then took us to her house which faces the river, graced by a
      garden where flowers are blossoming. Picking our way through broken
      glass at the entrance, we entered what was once one of the most well
      appointed homes in Baghdad. The rooms are in disarray. Several
      walls are cracked, the windows are all shattered, and a thick layer
      of dust and grime covers the exposed furniture, books, carpets and

      "'It was my silly feeling,' Amal said matter-of-factly, 'that this
      will not happen. I did not move anything.' She emphasized several
      times that neighbors could have removed everything, in the past two
      days. 'The house is open. The whole area knows about it. But nobody
      moved anything.' Amal wasnt in her home when the windows shattered
      and the doors were blown out. 'By chance, that night, I forgot my key
      and for that reason I stayed with my friends.' Ten minutes after we
      arrived at her home, the US began bombing. 'They are starting it
      again," sighed Amal. "We should go very quickly.'

      "We rejoined Amals friends, two sisters who, like Amal, are elderly,
      scholarly, staunch, and furious. I first met them in the summer of
      2002, when they invited me to tell a gathering of two dozen or so
      Iraqi friends about my experiences, in April 2001, inside the Jenin
      Camp, in the West Bank, just after Israeli troops had destroyed
      hundreds of homes in a civilian neighborhood, using overwhelming
      military force. Amal and her friends were deeply angered when I
      showed them enlarged pictures of homes in the Jenin Camp that were
      reduced to rubble. They said they've always felt intense grief for
      the Palestinians whove suffered under occupation. It was
      unthinkable, then, that Amal herself would become homeless and face
      life under occupation less than a year later.

      "'It is so unfair,' said Amal. 'From the simplest people to the
      highest people, all have suffered.' Later that night, we learned
      that Voice of America radio had confirmed that an Iraqi military
      officer approached a US military checkpoint in Iraq appearing to be a
      cab driver wishing to surrender. The driver detonated a load of
      explosives inside the cab, killing himself and four US soldiers.

      "Amal has paid a high price for guessing wrongly about whether or not
      the US would wage a massive attack against Iraq. She didnt bother to
      safeguard her impressive collection of valuable artwork, books, and
      other belongings. She and her friends arent guessing now. They are
      positive that US warmakers will pay a lethal and grisly price for any
      attempts to overtake and occupy Iraq. 'We will lose the battle, but
      the US is not the winner,' she vowed. 'The children talk about the
      monster coming. We will push back the monster, with our hands.'"

      We will continue you send you updates on our teams staus and
      experience inside Iraq.

      All my best,

      Jeff Guntzel, for Voices in the Wilderness


      Peace activists confirm Iraqi hospital bombed

      Charles J. Hanley, AP Special Correspondent, Associated Press

      30 March 2003

      AMMAN, Jordan (AP) - Bruised and bleeding, in need of medical care,
      the Americans stranded in Iraq's western desert approached the mud-
      brick town and found the hospital destroyed by bombs.

      "Why? Why?" a doctor demanded of them. "Why did you Americans bomb
      our children's hospital?" Scores of Iraqi townspeople crowded around.

      The American peace activists' account was the first confirmation of a
      report last week that a hospital in Rutbah was bombed Wednesday, with
      dead and injured. The travelers said they saw no significant Iraqi
      military presence near the hospital or elsewhere in Rutbah. The
      doctor did not discuss casualties, the Americans said.

      U.S. Central Command said Sunday it had no knowledge of a hospital
      bombing in Rutbah. The U.S. military has said it is doing its best to
      avoid civilian casualties in its campaign to oust Iraqi leader Saddam

      For the battered band of peace activists, recounting their nerve-
      jarring exit from Iraq on Sunday, it was one of the worst moments in
      10 days of war.

      That exit had begun at 9:15 a.m. Saturday, when a dozen foreigners -
      eight American and one Irish member of the Iraq Peace Team, and three
      unaffiliated Japanese and South Korean activists - set out from
      Baghdad on the 300-mile trek to the western border with Jordan,
      through a nation at war.

      Members of the antiwar group have shuttled in and out of the Iraqi
      capital for months to take part in vigils, small demonstrations and
      other activities to protest U.S. war plans. Since March 20, they have
      borne witness and compiled reports on the U.S. bombing of Baghdad.

      Some who left Saturday had been ordered out by jittery Iraqi
      bureaucrats for a minor infraction - taking snapshots in Baghdad
      without an official escort. Others said they left to get out the
      story of the Baghdad bombing.

      The journey was a straight shot through the gritty western desert,
      the Badiyat ash-Sham, over a divided superhighway eerily empty of
      traffic. American special forces and warplanes have been staging
      raids and air attacks on isolated targets across the west.

      "I'd say we passed up to 20 bombed-out, burned-out vehicles along the
      way," said Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, 22, a student from Devon, Pa.
      Four were Iraqi tanks and other military vehicles, he said, but the
      others appeared to be civilian, including a bus and an ambulance.

      "We had to detour around a bombed-out bridge, dodge lightpoles down
      across the road," said Shane Claiborne, 27, a community organizer from

      Three times the group - in a big white GMC Suburban and two yellow
      taxis - spotted bomb explosions nearby. The last, in early afternoon,
      occurred near the far-western town of Rutbah. Their Iraqi drivers'
      nerves were fraying as they sped toward Jordan at 80 mph.

      "He kept going faster, faster," Betty Scholten, 69, of Mount Rainier,
      Md., said of her driver.

      Suddenly the lagging taxi, pushing to catch up, blew a tire. It
      careened, spun out of control and plunged down a ditch, landing on
      its side. "It was a heavy hit," Claiborne said. All five men inside
      were hurt. "We pulled each other up through the side doors."

      A passing car eventually braked to a halt. The Iraqis inside got out,
      helped the injured into their vehicle and drove back toward Rutbah
      and a hospital. Along the way, Claiborne said, he spotted the
      contrails of a jet streaking toward the car. The Iraqis frantically
      waved a white sheet out a window, and the plane veered off, he said.

      In poor, remote Rutbah, a burned-out oil tanker truck sat in the
      road, and the customs building and communications center had been
      wrecked by bombing. When they reached the hospital, they saw it, too,
      had been bombed, its roof caved in.

      Claiborne said an English-speaking Iraqi doctor took them to a small
      nearby clinic, and 100 or so townspeople then gathered around the
      building. The men were worried, but the doctor told them, "We'll take
      care of you. Muslim, Christian, whatever, we are all brothers and
      sisters,'" Claiborne recalled.

      The staff tended to them, stitching up a scalp laceration for group
      leader Cliff Kindy, 53, of North Manchester, Ind., and doing their
      best for the worst hurt, Weldon Nisly, 57, of Seattle, who suffered
      cracked ribs and similar injuries.

      The two other carloads, missing the third, eventually doubled back and
      found the men in Rutbah. All then ventured onward the final 80 miles
      to the Jordan border, and then Amman, where Nisly was admitted to a
      hospital early Sunday.

      As they left Rutbah, said Wilson-Hartgrove's wife, Leah, 22, the
      villagers "said to us, 'Please tell them about the hospital.'"

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