“Hi, I just received a message from Nablus that five hundred Palestinians are besieged in the old city of Nablus, could you confirm this? We have a telephone number, but we know that the telephone lines have been cut and that even people cannot be reached on their mobile phones. We are afraid that a massacre is going to take place.”
“Arjan, I tried to call Nablus but we couldn’t get through”, says a colleague, adding “try the ICRC!”.
“Sorry, we have three ambulances that have been shot at today, making them out of service. Two ambulances got warning shots and returned. We cannot give you a full overview of what is happening in Nablus.”
“Arjan, they continued shelling Jenin refugee camp, with missiles, you know how crowded the camp is. This is unprecedented.”
I haven’t slept last night, worrying sick about what is happening. Last night, I heard the sounds of an Apache helicopter firing machine gunfire. I recognize the sound, because last night I saw on television an Apache helicopter firing machine gunfire at the old city of Nablus. I am waiting now for the results of a hearing at the High Court, where lawyers from the office have filed a petition to let ambulances evacuate wounded and dead bodies in Nablus. The hearing is still ongoing.
“I can tell you that a convoy is under way to Nablus with material to repair damages of homes. A lot of homes have been destroyed by the Israeli army. That’s is all what I can tell you. We are trying our best,” says a staffmember of the ICRC in Jerusalem.
A journalist steps into the office. “Can you tell me something about war crimes being committed? What does that mean for a country like the Netherlands? What steps should it take to end these crimes? So, you’re saying that suspension of the Association Agreement is a legal obligation? I understand. What about the arms embargo? I see, so the EU Code of Conduct on Arms export practically forbids any arms being sold to Israel. But why isn’t there an arms embargo imposed by the European Union? Oh, really, they did on Zimbabwe? Double standards, I see. Indeed, I understand, so you’re saying that these countries are complicit, with knowledge of these war crimes. Thank you for the interview.”
“Excuse me, do you know what the Fourth Geneva Convention says?” It mentions “grave breaches” (that is war crimes) and I can tell what kind of “grave breaches” Israel has committed and is still committing: wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation, transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.
“Sir, these are war crimes.”
I am tired, I want to stop counting.