Inside views from the International Solidarity Movt.

John Cox hazel_motes52 at hotmail.com
Sun Apr 14 07:58:36 MDT 2002


>From Huwaida ISM volunteer for Palestinian Solidarity:

 Friends,
It has been difficult to write, both logistically and emotionally. Thus, I
urge you to continue referring to www.jerusalem.indymedia.org for updates
from our besieged Palestinian towns.

Briefly:

Presidential compound - 25 foreign civilians remain inside (going on their
12th day, since Sunday March 31) with hundreds of Palestinians. Although I
don't have an exact count, when I was in there I estimated between 300-400
people inside, confined to about 12 rooms on two floors. Caoimhe Butterly,
the Irish national who has been in the compound for a full two weeks reports
a serious health crisis. The compound has not had running water for 13
days. This means that no one is able to wash, bathe or even flush the
toilet. People are becoming sick and there is a fear of the spread of
diseases. The Palestinians have repeatedly asked the Israeli military and
authorities to be able to fix the water lines into the compound but have
been denied permission. A meager supply of food is getting into the
compound daily, but rations are small and people are losing a lot of weight.
The internationals inside the compound reiterate their call for
international intervention.

To reach the foreign civilians inside the compound, please try calling:

+972-55-385-257; +972-55-559-145; +972-59-312-574; +972-59-567-800

Be aware that the reception inside the compound is very bad and Israeli
radars frequently intercept, therefore actually getting through is
difficult.

Ramallah - the town continues to be under total siege and curfew. There was
a brief lifting of the curfew yesterday (from 1 - 5pm) to allow people to
rush to the stores to purchase desperately needed food items. Milk is hard
to find and fresh fruits and vegetables have not entered the town for over
two weeks. People still lined up for bread, but many, many families are no
longer able to afford even this. Two weeks of stagnation on top of an
economy that was already in shambles has resulted in extreme cases of
poverty. Nev! ertheless people looked relieved to get some fresh air.
Though this was the second real lifting of the curfew, a look of
astonishment could still be seen on the faces of the Ramallah residents -
toppled light poles, upturned streets, shattered glass, burned buildings,
bullet-riddled storefronts; People stepped over the bullets, glass and
twisted metal to greet each other and continue on their way. A number of us
gathered in the streets to sing songs and chant slogans against the
occupation. One empty bottle thrown by a young kid lead to bullets being
fired and a barrage of tear gas shot into the crowded city center. A number
of elderly women had to be carried off and treated for tear gas inhalation.

As 5:00pm rolled around the streets emptied of people. No one dared to be
caught outside after curfew was imposed. Only a day earlier a mentally
disabled young man, who probably didn't realize that he shouldn't be
outside, was chased by Israeli soldiers and shot dead. The sharp shots of
snipers, the rolling fire of machine guns, the rumbling of tanks and random
explosions can be heard sporadically through the otherwise dead town. We no
longer even wonder what is being blown up. The destruction is just too
great. Israeli soldiers continue to round up young men. On Wednesday a
teacher's college in ! Ramallah was invaded and approximately 160 young men/
students at the boarding school were taken away. We learn of the abuse and
torture via those that have been released. I have one such 17 year old boy
staying with me. During the last lifting of the curfew (on Monday April 8)
we met on the street in the center of town. There I learned that he lives
in a nearby village but worked in Ramallah. On Saturday, March 30 he was
taken from his workplace, along with approximately 100+ others to the
military compound of Ofer. He was bound and blindfolded and left out in the
cold for 7 days, during which time he was interrogated and kicked around.
His money and ID card were taken but never returned to him. He was released
with a few dozen others on the outskirts of Ramallah on Saturday April 6 and
had to walk back into town. This is extremel! y dangerous as soldiers shoot
at anything they see moving during curfew. Because he is unable to reach
his village, for the 2 days from his release until I met this young man he
was sleeping in a bombed out building.

Foreign civilians continue to accompany ambulances and volunteer with food
distribution. We've been shot at a number of times but keep going, as do
the Palestinian doctors, medics and medical relief volunteers. Yesterday a
Japanese volunteer, Kuniomi Asai was injured when a soldier threw a
concussion grenade at him for walking too close to the presidential
compound.

Bethlehem - the town also remains under total curfew. The standoff at the
Church of the Nativity continues. Yesterday, heavy black smoke was reported
to be seen coming out of the church. In the residential neighborhood around
Manger Square, no one has been allowed to leave and no food or medicine has
been allowed in. Foreign civilians have tried a number of times to walk
towards Manger Square on foot, only to be turned back at gunpoint. The
situation is getting desperate for families being ! denied food and water.
There will be another attempt today by foreign civilians to walk towards
Manger Square.

Young men also continue to be rounded up and hauled away. Who will help us
get our fathers and brothers back after the Israelis pull out?

Nablus - Three International Solidarity Movement volunteers have been in
Nablus for three days. They are still reporting difficulty reaching the
sick and injured by ambulance. Yesterday one ambulance in Nablus was
riddled with bullet holes as others continue to be stopped and searched.
Mary Kelley (Irish national) reported being on an ambulance in which the
driver was forced to strip off articles of his clothing. Doctors of the
Rafedia hospital fear that soldiers will try entering the hospital to search
for "wanted" people among the injured patients. The Israeli army had the
hospital surrounded yesterday but as of 10:00pm had not entered the
hospital. There is a dire need for oxygen which Israeli soldiers are not
letting through despite coordination with the Israeli Authorities.

Beth Daoud (US citizen), Paul Larudee (US citizen) and Mary Kelley (Irish)
can be reached at +972-56-589-156

Jenin - Horrible reports continue to come out of Jenin and the Jenin refugee
camp. WE have been trying to get foreign civilians in there but have
thusfar been unable to. Two days ago we sent up 13 internationals and
yesterday another 8. The internationals along with a number of foreign
journalists were denied entry by Israeli forces. The internationals spent
the night in a nearby village where refugees and released detainees from the
Jenin Refugee Camp have been staying. Below I include a report from 13 of
the internationals that was given to us two days ago.&nbs! p;

============================

Thirteen internationals, 1 Swede, 1 Italian, 3 British and 8 American,
coming from Bethlehem and Jerusalem to Jenin, where there are reports of
300
dead and countless injured. 548 Palestinian men now living in Romani has
been dumped by Israeli soldiers at nearby Salem checkpoint after having been
arrested or escaping from Jenin. 160 were dumped naked outside of Syba. We
heard several stories of horror from the men.

A Palestinian UNRWA employee was detained at a checkpoint for three days
without food, and only Israeli soldiers' urine to drink. The right side of
his face paralyzed due to severe beating. The Israeli interrogators,
described as torturers! , told the imprisoned man that all UNRWA employees
are
spies for Hezbollah. When asking the Israeli doctors to loosen his severely
tight plastic handcuffs, the doctor only tightened them further. His home
in
Jenin caught fire, which was saved by firefighters, only to be bombed by an
Apache helicopter. He does not know what has become of his family.

A young Palestinian man was forced from his home in Jenin, and used as a
human shield by Israeli soldiers. His back and neck are burned by
cigarettes.

A Red Crescent ambulance driver was arrested for feeding 200 women and
children for 3 days. When the food ran out, the 200 left the medical
center,
heading for the Eastern side of Jenin. All were stopped, while some women,
and all of the men were ! forced to strip naked.

At the school in Kyba, which is serving as a refugee camp for the arrested
and escaped from Jenin refugee camp, there is a list on the wall of those
detainees released from Salem checkpoint. In nearby Romani, the mosque loud
speaker which otherwise projects a call to prayer, called out names of the
missing and the disappeared from Jenin.

The 13 internationals intend to deliver humanitarian aide, assist ambulance
drivers and document human rights abuses if we are able to reach the town
and
the camp.
For more information, please call:

Sofia Ahmed - +972-55-851-896
Kate Raphael - +972-56-621-935
Kristen Schurr - +972-65-622-017

=============================

The Israeli military claims to pull out of Palestinian towns and villages
only to continue surrounding them and invade others. Yesterday the army
moved into the villages of Dahiriyya and Bir Zeit and the refugee camp of
Ein Beit Elma, and began conducting more house to house searches. Please
continue to pressure your governments to take immediate action against
Israeli aggression and brutality. Call, fax and email your Congressional
representatives and MPs. A partial list of authorities to contact can be
found on www.jerusalem.indymedia.org

Good News:

More internationals are contacting us about coming to volunteer their time
and energy to help and protect the Palestinian people. To volunteer to come
to the Occupied Palestinian Territories with the International Solidarity
Movement, please contact:

George S. Rishmawi at abusalib at p-ol.com or call +972-52-502-079

For more information on any of the above, or for general information on the
International Solidarity Movement, please call:

Huwaida +972-52-642-709 or +972-55-975-374

Information on the International Solidarity Movement (though it is not
currently being updated) can be found on www.palsolidarity.org


John Cox
Chapel Hill, NC
This week in history:
April 14, 1986 Simone de Beauvoir dies
April 15, 1898 Bessie Smith born
April 15, 1980 Jean-Paul Sartre dies
April 15, 1986 Jean Genet dies (bad week for French intellectuals)
April 16, 1828 Francisco Goya dies
April 17, 1961 defeat of U.S./mercenary invasion at Bay of Pigs
April 19, 1943 beginning of Warsaw Ghetto uprising
April 20, 1893 Joan Miro born
April 20, 1914 massacre by National Guard of Ludlow miners



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