Forwarded from Ralph Johansen #2

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Apr 9 17:47:47 MDT 2002


Date: Tue, 9 Apr 2002 09:53:10 -0500 (EST)
From: "Milton T. Fisk" <fiskm at indiana.edu>
To: Anatole Anton <aanton at sfsu.edu>
Subject: Collateral damage

Anatole - This from a friend in Palestine. Would you be so kind as to
forward it to RPA.

Best, Milton

On April 8th, 2002 at 1p.m., the curfew was lifted in Ramallah for
the second time in 11 days, and for a period of 4 hours. It gave some
a chance to hunt for bread and eggs, and others to quickly survey the
damage to their institutions, since in the previous lifting of the
curfew people could barely concentrate on hunting for but not finding
bread. But once locked up again, a slow realization came about...
wonder what they did inside the buildings they broke into.

With gradual reports of plunder, stealing and breaking emerging, you
can imagine that many began to worry, then fear a much worse
realization: destruction of the institutional and cultural
infrastructure of Palestinian life. This realization, alas, is now
being confirmed. For many, much of their laborious work in
institution building has been ruined.

Although we do not know the level and extent of this type of
destruction, eyewitness reports indicate that it is all-
encompassing. No doubt, it will take months to assess the extent of
this damage, once we emerge out of the current circumstances. And
clearly, being under curfew and with mere phone contacts, we only
know of some cases, those that we happen to have access to or pertain
to people we know. Here is what we know so far:

1. Radio and television stations: Not only did the Israeli army
occupy most of the local radio and television stations early on, but
they used one of the stations at least, WATAN, to air pornographic
films. That day, probably on the second day of this onslaught, I
turned on the television to see Watan Television Station's couragous
reporting of what is happening around us. I was shocked by a
pornographic film instead. Called everybody and everyone, as did
everybody else who saw that. And it took I think two days for this to
stop...just think of children watching in the midst of all that is
happening around them. And then we began to hear reports of what has
taken place at al-Quds University's Educational Television, which
normally broadcasts educational materials, but since the beginning of
this state of affairs, had begun airing cartoons for children and
short films on first aid and trauma management, as well as phone
numbers and addresses to use for emergency purposes in these trying
times.

According to the technical director of this station and another
filmmaker friend, the army occupied the station and held two staff
operators for many hours before they were released. When the curfew
was lifted on April 5th, he tried his best to get into the station,
but was not allowed in by the army. On the way back, his worst fears
were magnified: al-Nasr TV, Manara, Ajyal, and Angham radio station
owners all reported the same horror. They were able to get into their
stations and found all the equipment on the floor, totally and
irreparably damaged. Microphones, tapes, CD's, monitors, mixers etc.
all spread and smashed into shambles. Even Radio Love and Peace
studios, ironically, were found totally destroyed, apparently using
highly effective sledgehammers or something of this sort!

2. Non-governmental organizations working on economic and social
development research, policy and human rights

a. Al-Haq, HDIP and MATTIN: these are three non-governmental
organizations specializing in human rights, health research and
policy and economic research development respectively. They are
situated in one building. The first report I received was from
al-Haq, indicating that they had stormed their office as well as that
of HDIP, and that they had arrested one of their workers. Later on,
we realized via MATTIN researchers that all three institutions were
opened up, forming a big dormitory, and that the army was using the
entire area as a barracks. On the second curfew lifting I went
downtown and peeped through streets and building to see, as you
cannot get close, only to realize that the building is surrounded
with barbed wires and tanks, totally inaccessible even for people to
inspect the damage in there, and leaving you with a horrific
imagination of what could have happened inside, as the Israeli army
is still using the offices as a downtown station. We suspect that the
damage must be great, or total, based on reports of what happened in
radio and television stations as well as people's homes when they are
stormed.

b. UPMRC . First, the Youth Center, housing a computer laboratory as
well as other equipment and materials that are intended to help youth
in these trying times. On Sunday the 31st of March the Israeli army
stormed the center. They detonated the door and went in. They broke
all the internal doors, and destroyed some of the computers, we do
not know how many. We have no idea to date if they stole anything or
not.

Then, the UPMRC Optometry Center: the centre was stormed probably
also on the same day. Again the door was detonated, and even the
internal walls were destroyed, and everything was broken, computers,
microscopes, and all of the diagnostic equipment was smashed and on
the floor. The Israeli army also took with them the main records
computer. There is nothing there that is operational.

And, the UPMRC Technical Aids for the Disabled Centre: stormed on the
first of April. Stormed by exploding one of the walls, as they could
not open the main door, tried to detonate the door but did not
succeed. All computers were broken and down on the floor, glass
broken, even parts of walls were down.

And finally, UPMRC'c main emergency medical center, first shelled by
tanks, with shells landing inside one of rooms, carving out the first
wall into the second room, and then again the second wall into the
third room. Then they stormed the building and destroyed all the
equipment there, computers, photocopier etc. The Israeli army also
detonated the doors of other NGO's located in the building, such as
the Mandela Institute, as well a private dental clinic and computer
company located in the same building. One office, belonging to a
private lawyer was partially burned down. All equipment in these
offices were destroyed.

c. Al-Mawrid Teacher Development Center in the Arizona Building in
the heart of downtown Ramallah: this center was directly hit by a
missile or bomb, which landed in through the window and caused a
fire, which has led to the total destruction of the premises.

d. Muwatin, the Palestinian Institute for the Study of Democracy,
located on Irsal Street, was not spared either. Apparently, the
neighbor first reported that the army stormed into these offices and
stayed there for about three hours. One door was completely blown
off, and the other badly damaged. By the second curfew lifting, on
April 9th, a quick visit revealed destruction, and paper everywhere
on floors, books on floors. There was no time however to assess
whether anything was stolen nor the extent of the damage.

We also hear that PARC ( Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee)
and the Hydrology Group offices were also stormed but I do not yet
know the details.

3. Public Institutions: we have not begun to realize the extent of
the damage in this sector, but some reports are indicative. On April
4th, the Ministry of Education issued an appeal to the world
community indicating that on April 3rd, more than 30 Israeli tanks
made a forceful entry into the Ministry headquarters in Ramallah ,
demolishing the main gate and the main doors, although employees
there were willing to give them the keys to open the doors instead.
The employees were then captured and forced to sit under heavy rain
for six hours, then released. When the soldiers left at around 9 p.m
that evening, the employees went back to horrifying damage: the
Ministry's computer net servers were stolen, along with many floppy
disks, CD's, files, dossiers, and all sorts of other documents. In
the finance office, the main coffer lock was detonated, damaging all
papers, including vouchers, promissory notes, cash and check box. The
general examination central office doors were all detonated and
destroyed, all iron cupboards as well, many of which containing very
important educational documents. All records were taken or destroyed,
even records of official transcripts that have been laboriously
developed over years, and making it impossible now to issue or
certify student documents and transcripts. Even the storage rooms
were invaded, with computers, televisions and video sets and other
valuable teaching aids taken away, all with worth estimated as in
millions of dollars. Apparently, the piles of rubble on the floor
made for a terrifying scene.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and has been compiled from
reports I have received from friends and colleagues in the
institutions concerned.

The whole truth will take some time to emerge.

This unbelievable destruction can only indicate that this unilateral
war is not merely about security, but is mainly directed against
annihilating everything Palestinian.

Rita

--
Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 04/09/2002

Marxism list: http://www.marxmail.org



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