Reports from Palestine on the destruction of Palestinian infrastructure

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at
Thu Apr 18 15:14:12 MDT 2002


I received the reports below from an old school chum of mine who has worked
for many years in the Middle East.  He got them from friends of his whom I
have never met.  The reports are primarily liberal in tone, but for all
that they do document an aspect of the Israeli savagery that has received
no attention here in Australia.

I have tried to reformulate them by hand.  This has been a laborious
process, but it seems very little labour compared to what is needed.  In
any case I hope they are readable.



This compilation of reports and news came from old
friends and acquaintances in Palestine.
Do read it - it's time for everyone to understand the
reality - as opposed to the media reports which
are so frequently misleading.

Dear all
I am sending this on as the world gets madder and madder and Israel seem to
be able to get away with breaking all the conventions in the book.

The apparent systematic destruction of the institutional base of Palestine,
which has been very hard to build up, is so ghastly.

I can imagine  Israel withdrawing and saying 'we've withdrawn. All is well
now and why won't Palestinians agree to our peace deal? When they know full
well they have left utter devastation behind them.

When Israel first handed over parts of the West Bank and Gaza to the
Palestinian Authority (PA) they did not give the PA any records
what-so-ever.  NOTHING.  They simply left.  All the records of population,
teachers, educational materials, financial matters, medical stuff,
statistics of all kinds, etc  etc, all the records which enable a state to
function and to plan and work out what resources it has to work with, the
Palestinians had to start from scratch. Each ministry trying to compile
what they needed and find out the information.   It was a long slow
process  and they were amazing at what they did.  Now it seems they will be
pushed right back again.  How much more can they take?  I marvel at the way
they persevere and will not let it get them down.

Today the Israelis went into Birzeit, as well as 2 other new areas. Birzeit
is where the University is and I can only guess it is to destroy it.  This
willful destruction of infrastructure in no way can be said to be
combatting terrorism.  The NGO's cited are involved in either human rights,
medical or educational work.  It would seem to be pushing the limits to
suggest that educational records in the Ministry of Education are really a
coded terrorist plot. I despair.  I really despair of our governments
attitude to it all and their (or Blair's) intentions towards Iraq when such
blind stupidity would solve absolutely nothing but deepen the divides which
we seem so bent on
Forcing upon the world.

Love Alison

Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2002 11:20 AM
Subject: FW: support

Dear All,

I am receiving many reports of atrocities being perpetrated in the West
Bank. It's difficult to know what to forward to whom. It was written by
Rita Giacamen who is the director of the  department of public health at
Bir Zeit university.  See below  reports on offices of UPMRC (United
Palestinian Medical Relief Committees)  PHG  PARC  Amongst many others.

Reem Abdul-Hadi who worked with us briefly is collecting and disseminating
reports from various regions where Israeli's have reoccupied. Her reports
cover issues of general destruction particularly that aimed at health
services and the increased mortality caused by Israel's preventing medical
teams reaching and treating the wounded. She has some data on the  numbers
and types of causalities including many children.

The latest reports are more disturbing than the earlier ones that  focused
on military action. More recently the focus is on acts of cruelty and
destruction and most alarmingly the increase in sexual assaults on women,
terrorization of families and summary executions.

I'm sure that you all have your sources of information about the  horrors
of the West Bank but if you would like me to forward more to you please ask.



-Subject: Re: support

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 courageous 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 sledge hammers 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.
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

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.


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