No witnesses

The woman from Jenin refugee camp said, ‘we couldn’t see what was happening so we looked through the window, we were terrified in case they shot at us.’

Another Palestinian witness said he saw ‘15 or so Palestinian women and children, including an old woman in a wheelchair, moving down the main street of Jenin refugee camp. An Israeli tank was behind them with the barrel focused on them, the soldiers were yelling at them in Arabic – Yalla, yalla, imshi! (“quickly, quickly, walk!”) and cursed them. I think they were taking them to the Muqata’a (Governorate headquarters). Then the soldiers reversed the tank – shouted at me and told me to get away from the window or they would shoot’.

The curfew imposed on the West Bank not only means the Israeli soldiers have complete control of the streets – it also effectively means that there are no witnesses to what is occurring. The complete prevention of movement of ambulances and medical teams not only unnecessarily endangers the lives of the Palestinian sick and wounded, it also leaves the Israeli soldiers operating with impunity.

The Israeli military has also declared these invaded areas ‘closed military zones’ meaning that they are not open to journalists or foreigners. A Reporters Without Borders fact-finding missing to the area last summer noted ‘more than 30 journalists had been wounded by gunfire, mostly by the Israeli army, over the previous 10 months.’

Today the situation is infinitely worse with one Italian journalist recently shot dead in Ramallah by Israeli soldiers, on the 9th of April Gilles Jaques, a French TV2 reporter, was shot in the chest while reporting from Nablus; other journalists report soldiers opening fire on them at checkpoints and many journalists were shot at while in a hotel in Ramallah. This is a violent attempt by the Israeli army and government to aggressively censor foreign journalists.

In another attempt to remove witnesses during this most recent assault on Palestinians, is the restriction of foreigners coming in to Israel, and their arrest and deportation from Palestinian areas. Since April 3, approximately 152 foreigners have been refused permission to Israel, including a Greek team of doctors, Italian members of Parliament, and British, Belgium and French peace campaigners. Furthermore, Israeli soldiers opened fire on foreign nationals involved in a peaceful demonstration in Bethlehem – seven of them needed hospital treatment. Additionally a number of individuals were arrested in their hotels in Ramallah or Jerusalem and deported.

The GIPP calls for international observers to be immediately deployed to Palestine to protect the civilians – to protect Palestinians, to witness the continuing Israeli attacks on the Palestinian people and to help the implementation of humanitarian assistance.