Report on Palestinian Al Aqsa Intifada

jacdon at SPAMearthlink.net jacdon at SPAMearthlink.net
Thu Nov 2 09:51:54 MST 2000


A four-person delegation from the International Action Center has been
on a fact-finding mission to Palestine for the last week during what is
being called the Al Aqsa Intifada, or uprising.  When the delegation
returns, members will speak throughout the U.S. with first-hand reports
documenting the repression inflicted by the Israeli army.  Following are
answers from the delegation to five specific questions about the
Intifada,

-------------------
Question: The media in the United States, at least the corporate media,
has made it appear that with the fighting going on in Palestine there
are two sides more or less battling it out evenly. What does it look
like to you there?

IAC delegation: That’s ridiculous. By today, Oct. 31, the official death
toll in a month of fighting rose to 154 Palestinians killed and 12
Israelis—that’s almost 13 to one. And the bullets and shells of the
so-called Israeli Defense Force have wounded another 6,600 Palestinians.

The Israeli troops are armed to the hilt with machine guns. They are
backed up by tanks and helicopter gunships that for the past three days
have been shelling and firing rockets at Palestinian towns and cities,
and firing heavy machine guns at unarmed demonstrators. We watched
Palestinian youths today fighting tanks and troops with stones and
slingshots.

The Israeli troops are basically waging a one-sided aggressive war
against an unarmed population. The gunships, by the way, are the
helicopters the Pentagon supplies Israel and calls “Apache,” which is an
insult to Native people in North America. Most of the weapons come from
the U.S.

Question: Besides making it look like an even battle, the U.S. media
portrays the IDF as acting with constraint, with only using force to
stop the attacks on them. What did you observe on this?

IAC: We witnessed last night a rocketing in Ramallah, and there was
another one that we didn’t see with widespread damage to residential
areas, so there's tremendous anger in the population. The hardest hit
city was Nablus, where there were four different areas that were hit by
rockets.

Around noon local time today there was a demonstration, which took place
at the north entrance to Ramallah, coming just 12 hours after the rocket
attacks in residential neighborhoods in several cities. There were
marches that took place all over Palestine, including one that we
participated in at midnight in Ramallah.

Young people marched, converging on the north entrance to Ramallah,
which is very close in, really in the city itself. Palestinian youth
were confronting the Israeli soldiers. And the Israeli soldiers were
pulled up right, almost into the city and it shows how very limited the
area under Palestinian control is.

The Palestinian youth began throwing stones and using slingshots against
the soldiers who were confronting them. There were soldiers right behind
the troops on the front line that were hard to see but we could make
them out, in both the City Inn hotel and in an adjoining office
building.

These were snipers. These snipers have been firing from long distances
at people who are demonstrating, picking them off. So we could see them.
But after the demonstration went on for a little while--we were no more
than a hundred yards from this--the Israelis first used tear gas, or
really CS gas, then they began firing automatic weapons.

Then the Israeli troops began firing from tanks at the youth, firing 500
mm and 800 mm bullets, big bullets that just destroy somebody if they
hit them.  These were really criminal tactics. Between the shells and
the snipers, it was obvious the Israelis were shooting to kill.

Question: What has been the impact of the Israeli military tactics on
the demonstrations? Have they discouraged the people from coming out in
the streets?

IAC: So far the brutal tactics have been counter-productive. Look at
what happened today in Ramallah.

The courage of the youth in confronting this was really incredible to
see.  There were hundreds and hundreds of youth along the sides and some
who got up very close to where the soldiers were and even with all the
firing going on they would continue to resist, they would continue to
throw stones.

The youths were making the statement that they're not going to be
intimidated, that they're not going to be defeated by the use of these
tactics, which really have to be considered to be criminal tactics. They
are determined to continue this struggle.

Of course when the army began opening up with the tank weapons against
people, the crowds began to scatter, to move back and to move forward
again. Bullets were whistling over our heads, bouncing off buildings
near where we were. And finally the crowd was driven back.

But this was I think one of many instances like this, and it shows the
tremendous level of morale and the tremendous determination by the youth
and by the people as a whole. And it really is the people as a whole, as
we can testify to from the many encounters that we've had with people
from all walks of life here.

This morning, before the demonstration, we had visited with two
different Palestinian medical committees, the Union of Health Work
Committee and the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Association. We
had met with them and we had gone to hospitals and visited some of the
wounded.

In two different hospitals, in Ramallah hospital and in another
rehabilitation hospital where more seriously injured people are being
treated. One of the things explained to us in the meeting that we had
with the doctors was that the medical committees here, and this is a new
development, have been training hundreds of medics, volunteer medics,
and they go out with the ambulances to demonstration sites.

They've been trained how to get people who have been shot, how to carry
them out in ways that they're safer, into the ambulances. But of course
it's not safe for the people who are doing this at all, because many of
them have been wounded. At least 15 of these medical rescue workers have
been seriously wounded with gunshot wounds to the chest, to the back and
the head.

But after we heard this explained early in the morning in the meetings,
we then got to witness it first hand where the ambulances were racing in
the areas where the fighting was taking place amid the tank fire and
automatic weapons and bring out wounded Palestinians.

It's very dramatic to see this. It was a scene where bullets were
flying, ricocheting around, tear gas. The Israeli tactics had brought
the entire Palestinian population into the Intifada, the uprising.

Question: What evidence have you seen of the U.S. role in the conflict
in Palestine?

IAC: At the demonstration today, we picked up one of the tear gas
canisters, CS gas canisters that had been fired, and verified by looking
at it, we have it our possession that it was made by Federal Labs in the
United States.

In 1988, at the time of the first Intifada, one of our delegation
participated in a sit-in demonstration at Federal Labs out in Western
Pennsylvania. The Israelis were using CS gas in such quantities in the
first Intifada, firing it into people's homes, that many people were
dying from it. But Federal Labs is still producing CS gas and they're
still supplying it to the Israeli military, along with all the other
weaponry like the helicopters that comes from the United States.

And the people here know the U.S. role is not that of an honest broker
but a supplier for Israel. Last night at an apartment house damaged by
rockets, one man picked up a piece of a wall that was blown into his
apartment, through his window from the house that was blown up across
the street. He held it up and said, “I want to send a message to
President Clinton, I want to send this back to him.”

As soon as we got to Nablus today we visited the Fatah office here,
which had been hit by two missiles last night and it was totally
destroyed. It was a large building, unlike the building we saw last
night in Ramallah, which was a very tiny office of Fatah, where much
greater damage was done to surrounding residential buildings.

The Israelis are using U.S.-produced heavy weaponry against civilians
and the civilians are continuing to carry on the struggle and continuing
to resist despite this, but it's truly criminal, what's going on. It's
truly a violation of international law to use this type of weaponry.

Question: What do you think the Israelis want to accomplish with their
tactics?

IAC delegation: In the seven years since the Oslo Accords were signed,
the Israelis have doubled the number of settlements on the West Bank.
They’ve built a series of roads connecting them that only Israeli
vehicles can travel on. They’ve armed the settlers and put them on
hilltops where they can command the territory and terrorize the nearby
Palestinian villages.

Now the Israeli regime wants to stuff what is a rotten agreement down
the throats of the Palestinians. They are using murder, intimidation and
terror with tanks, helicopters and snipers to try to get their way.

They have been interfering with the vital olive harvest, with heavily
armed settlers shooting at farmers gathering the olives while army
troops stop farmers at checkpoints and confiscate their crop.

The reaction has been that the entire Palestinian population has said
“No” to this agreement and has reopened a struggle.
------
International Action Center
39 West 14th Street, Room 206
New York, NY 10011
email: iacenter at iacenter.org
web: http://www.iacenter.org
phone: 212 633-6646







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