Casualties of the Lifting of the Curfews

As the Israeli army has reoccupied Palestinian towns and cities in the West Bank they have imposed complete 24-hour curfews for days at a time. Occasionally they lift the curfew to enable the civilian residents who are trapped in their houses without water, electricity, telephones or food, to buy provisions.

However, despite the lifting of the curfew at the ‘high military level’, on the ground it would appear that leaving home is still fraught with danger for most Palestinians.

The day before yesterday when the Israelis lifted the curfew in the Bethlehem area, Yousef Iyad, 43 and his wife, Jameleh left their seven children at home in Deheishya refugee camp to make a brief trip to buy food. On the way Israeli soldiers opened fire on the car shattering the window and shooting out a tyre. Jamelah suffered wounds to her face, from the flying glass. Terrified they sought refuge in a house in the street. The curfew was re-imposed; the parents now are separated from their children including their two-month-old baby, who is breast-fed. This means that since yesterday he has not been fed – and is left in the care of his siblings and neighbours. The eldest, who is 18, is desperate to reunite the baby with his mother – and said, “if no one helps me I will have to break curfew to get him to my mother – he is crying and hungry.”

This is not the first time Israeli soldiers have shot at people when the curfew was lifted. On April the second the Israeli soldiers in the downtown Ramallah opened fire on a 14-year-old Kindi Amin Qutamey, shooting him in the leg with live ammunition.

In another example, on the 8th of April, a newly married man, in his early 20s, was driving home in the Ramallah neighbourhood, Im As-Shariyet, when the curfew was re-imposed; a sniper positioned in the Arab Nation College shot him with four bullets – he died immediately from the shot to his head.

The deputy governor of Jenin, Haider Rashid, this morning described how the Israeli soldiers in the Jenin United Nations refugee camp are bulldozing houses, “at first I thought they were doing it to make the roads wider for the tanks – but now I believe the army is doing this in order to cover its crime. When the soldiers finally leave from Jenin, the press, cameramen and diplomats will want to come to see the terrible things the soldiers have done – but this atrocity will literally be covered up”.

The situation in both Jenin city and refugee camp remains appalling with Israeli tanks and helicopters attacking and shelling the area, a 24 hour curfew, the rounding up of Palestinians and no water or electricity. It is estimated that 200 Palestinians have been killed in this massacre in Jenin – this cannot be confirmed as no one can access the area to collect the bodies or the injured.

According to Mr. Rashid, at least 3,000 people, mostly women and children have left the camp (home to 15,000 people). Im Alaa As-Sady, who was one of those who escaped the carnage in the camp, described how she had “no choice but to leave with my children. There was no water, and we ran out of bread days ago. Constantly there is shelling of the houses – and if you go outside, or near the windows, or on the roof, snipers can shoot at you. We fled to the city and are now in a house with forty other people… I do not know how we will manage as we are all here and have no food already. We cannot get out to buy some more because the curfew is not lifted here as we are in an area close to the camp. I don’t know where my husband or other daughters are”. In almost all of these cases, it is the third time that Israel has made these people homeless – the crimes committed against the first two generations are repeated for the third.

The city of Nablus and the Beit Ein Ma’a refugee camp are also coming under constant attack with heavy shelling. Israeli troops yesterday forced the civilians to evacuate the neighbourhood of El-Yasmeen. The mostly women, children and old men were then forced to spend the night in the grounds of a school. The wholesale destruction of the city continues, with the destruction of houses, business, shops and factories, with the accompanied loss of life.

Medical teams across the West Bank remain unable to provide care to the sick and wounded. Approximately 2 million people remain, for the 14th day, under 24-hour curfew, the majority without water, electricity or telephones. Palestinians lives are at risk even obeying the curfew; Minal Ibrahiem
Liftaweih was shot dead in her home in the Ein Mesbah neighbourhood of Ramallah this morning, by a sniper on a near by building. In another incident an Armenian monk, Armen Sebanyian was shot in Bethlehem in the Church of the nativity, seriously wounded. He remains in critical condition.

Yesterday we reported on the death of a Ramallah man – shot dead by a sniper as he was on his way after the lifting of the curfew. There are also cases reported of prisoners who were arbitrarily detained or arrested, who were then shot dead on their way home after they had been released – again by snipers, (for more information see Palestine Monitors ‘Casualties of the Lifting of the Curfews’ 10th April).

Palestinians call for the intervention of the international community to bring an immediate halt to this Israeli military aggression, and the immediate lifting of this inhumane curfew.