“Are you serious? This is Bosnia!,” I replied as we get new information from Jenin refugee camp. Residents of the refugee camp have told us that they were moved from the camp. Eyewitnesses told my colleagues that Israeli forces are now digging large holes inside Jenin refugee camp and in surrounding areas.
They have stated their fears that these are mass graves, where the several killed (numbers still to be confirmed) in the refugee camp will be buried. Eyewitnesses saw Israeli forces putting bodies inside the holes. The area is located in the middle of the camp, also known as Haret al-Hawarish.
We are now seeking assistance from the international humanitarian agencies to enter the area and document the current activities of Israeli forces and photograph evidence of how the dead were killed, but we have been advised that it is currently too dangerous to enter the refugee camp to do so.
We believe that these actions suggest an intention to hide evidence of Israeli war crimes committed in Jenin refugee camp. These events follow statements made by Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres in Ha’aretz, April 9, 2002, that a “massacre” has been carried out in the camps and statements made by Israeli army officers that “the soldiers are almost not advancing on foot. The bulldozers are simply ‘shaving’ the homes and causing terrible destruction. When the world sees the pictures of what we have done there, it will do us immense damage.”
“However many wanted men we kill in the refugee camp, and however much of the terror infrastructure we expose and destroy there, there is still no justification for causing such great destruction.”
Peter Hansen, director of UNRWA also confirmed on April 7, 2002, that “We are getting reports of pure horror - that helicopters are strafing residential areas, that systematic shelling by tanks has created hundreds of wounded, that bulldozers are razing refugee homes and that food and medicine will soon run out. In the name of human decency the Israeli military must allow our ambulances safe passage to help evacuate the wounded and deliver emergency supplies of medicine and food.”
A colleague of mine, Attorney Hanan Khatib has lodged a pre-petition with the Israeli State Attorney’s office to stop these mass grave burials and allow access for our legal team to investigate the circumstances of their deaths. Yesterday evening, we received reports directly from Jenin and Nablus of an escalated military assault, including in Jenin refugee camp, bombardment from Apache helicopter gunships; F15 and F16 war planes shelling the old city of Nablus and Balata refugee camp; and further deployment of Israeli tanks. These military assaults targeting civilians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including Jenin and Nablus amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.