Ramallah update

Friends: Conditions worsen by the day. All of our attention is on Nablus and Jenin. As the world watches, these areas, esp Jenin Refugee Camp is being burned to the ground with its residents inside. Such actions anywhere else in the world by any other military force other than Israel would have moved the US to send troops to protect the civilians. But when only Palestinians are being killed I guess the powers-to-be can give a damn. The Palestinians will not forget this chapter of their history.

An Israeli friend sent me this, if anyone can help pls reply to her:

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For those who do not know me - I am an Israeli Citizen, active in the Anti Occupation Movement - the former Peace Movement - Allah Yirhamo… I am a member of Gush Shalom and the Women’s Coalition For Just Peace. I am trying my best to gather information and circulate it in Israel and around the world - information about the current emergency situation in your cities and camps concerning the War Crimes and the Human Rights violations committed by the Israeli Occupation forces against you, against humanity and against the values of every decent human being.

We need to make as much as possible local and International turmoil in order to try to bring around the much needed International Intervention. I am getting ample information about what is going on In Ramallah thanks to our friends and colleagues there. Yet, I have no electronic nor telephone contacts with people in Nablus, Jenin, Halil and other places that are right now under attack. I need urgent contacts and information from these places.

Please - if you happen to be in one of the above mentioned locations, or close to there - or have any information about what is going on there - please let me know.

mail to: ye_harel@netvision.net.il

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On the personal front, we are managing. We woke up yesterday and found that our daughter had written on a calender that we have hung on our fridge under Monday, “If the tanks leave, Debka practice”. She is 7-yrs old! She is concerned that she has now missed 7-days of school and keep asking us if the Israeli demolished her school, St. Joseph’s in Ramallah. We answer no, but we really do not know.

Arrests continue. Last night several family friends were taken, including Iyad Joudeh (ID#922010657, DOB 17/10/63) who was was taken from his home while his 10 yrs old son and 7 yr old daughter watched in horror.

Iyad is the Exec Director for PALTRADE, the organization that is funded by USAID to promote Palestinian exports and thus put people to work in Palestine. Of course, no word where Iyad was taken or why. His family is terrified, as are thousands. Please call for his immediate release.

My brother-in-Law Mohammed is home with a bad cold from sleeping outside while arrested. He can’t leave the house when the curfew is lifted because he still has no ID card still. The Israelis never returned their personal goods. My cousins Samir and Maher Nimer have still to be heard from since 30/3.

Yesterday about 50 Palestinians in groups of 5 walking about 100 meters apart with hands raised over their heads and carrying white flags walked past our house on Jerusalem road toward town. They had just been released from jail and were walking home. I yelled out to one group if all arrested were managing, he said, “no”, and kept walking in fear.

We all are worried about those arrested, esp since Israel announced that the Israeli Detention Center that was opened in the Negev during the first Intifada (this place is hell on earth) will be re-opened for the Palestinians arrested this time.

The water issue in Ramallah is still being dealt with. Info from the field reports:

“We are in a better situation than 3 days ago. We pump about 750m3/hour (24 hours a day) using 2 pumps. We tried to operate the third pump today but the Israelis stopped us from reaching the sub-station. We will try agin tomorrow. Almost everybody should have water unless there is a burst on water network lines feeding their area. Very few of our water repair crew are able to work on bursts repair, which is the second water supply problem. Needless to mention all of our crew fear for their lives while in the field.”

The Israeli media war is as fierce as the tanks. Yesterday they reported at “14:29 IDF claims Palestinians deliberately placed an explosive device in Bethlehem main water pipe (Israel Radio)” I checked with people on the ground. It is a TOTAL lie! Of course, after waging war on the media, who is to say to Israel “bullshit”.

For everyone’s info, Nablus and Jenin have had ZERO water supply and electricity for 3 days straight now.

In Gaza, a friend sent me this msg to get on the airwaves:

“I wish to advise those of you living in Gaza that emergency first aid kits have been distributed around the Gaza Strip for the use of their recipients and neighbors. Emergency centers have also been established in various parts of the Strip. For details on the kits please contact Al-Awda Hospital- Jabalia (Tel. 08- 245 7674). For details on the emergency centers please contact the nearest Ministry of Health clinic.”

From the US, Dr. Edward Said has written another powerful essay.

Me and those of us still connected to the outside world (LONG LIVE THE INTERNET) are receiving a lot of brilliant suggestions and msgs of support, many from the Jewish community in the US and some Israelis. One passed this helpful link:

Progressive Portal Web site and sending a letter of your own — it takes only a minute.

…as I write a huge explosion went off, seems near center of town……

As you all may have recently read, An Israeli journalist quoted army officials as saying that in order to quell the Palestinian uprising, the Israel needs to learn from history, including how the German army subdued the Warsaw ghetto. Sad state of affairs for Israel.

As I hope is being reported abroad, the educational infrastructure in Palestine is also a target in this Israeli aggression. The following statement was issued. If any of you reading this can help the Acting Edu Minister in getting the word out or to provide assistance to put the education system back on track one the tanks roll out his number and email are listed below:


The Ministry of Education Urges the International Community to Intervene and End the Israeli Atrocities on the Palestinian People.

Ramallah, April 4, 2002. The Israeli army has positioned tanks and troops throughout all Palestinian population areas and systematically destroyed Palestinian infrastructure. The headquarters of the Palestinian Ministry of Education (MOE) in Ramallah was not spared from this destruction.

Yesterday (April 3, 2002) More than 30 Israeli tanks made a forceful entry to the Ministry of Education (MOE) building by demolishing the main gate and the main doors Although there were MOE employees who shown willingness to use keys and open all inside doors, Israeli invaders refused and badly treat these employees, actually they also use them as human armors. When all padlocks where exploded and open all MOE employees where captured outside and forced to sit under heavy rain and cold for six hours.

When soldiers left at 9 in the evening the employees came back and witness the big damages and loses, they have seen:

The MOE computers net servers where taken with a lot of floppy disks, CDs, files, dossiers, documents from all offices.

In the financial offices, the main coffer lock was exploded which damaged all related papers including vouchers, promissory notes, cash, check box.

In the general examination central office, all the main doors are bombed and destroyed, all iron cupboards where exploded, those contains highly important documents. The invaders took or destroyed all records and references that are very important for official transcripts. The records where built over years, loosing them means being incapable to issue or certify students’ documents and transcripts.

The main MOE storage rooms were also invaded, and computers were taken as well as OHP, TV, Video sets, and many other valuable learning equipment. These equipment are worth millions of dollars which was provided by generous donor countries and organizations.

All other offices where left in a mess files are torn or taken, and what is left has been piled on the floor in a terrifying scene. At this stage we can’t define the real size of damages and loses, we will make a comprehensive assessment to this damage whenever we can reach the building.

We like to highlight that when the Israeli broke into, there was no firing of any form in the area or around it. The MOE building is located in an area which far from the city center and surrounded by a wall.

Such destruction express attitude that goes beyond Military purposes, it reflects a deep resentment to whatever bears a whole mark of any Palestinian civil institutions.

We like to reconfirm, also, that the MOE is serving 1 million Palestinian children, i.e. one third of the Palestinian population in West Bank and Gaza. The invasion on the MOE building is actually an aggression on all children of Palestine. Such aggression is another dreadful event added to the fact that for more than 160 students get killed over the last 18 months and the fact that over a week, almost 1 million Palestinian children are being denied from accessing their school, which is a basic right for any child.

The attack to the Ministry of Education is against all international treaties and conventions. The Ministry of Education has repeatedly warned the international community of the disastrous effects of Israel’s non-compliance with its obligations under international law, in particular, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The State of Israel willingly signed and ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Moreover, the State of Israel has not only failed to comply with the provisions of the Convention, it has consistently and systematically engaged in gross violations of Palestinian children’s rights.

The Palestinian Ministry of Education urges and call upon you to stop this destruction of schools, buildings and offices, and to return all documents, and equipment to MOE.

The Palestinian Ministry of Education urges and calls upon the international community to intervene and demand an IMMEDIATE halt to Israel’s siege on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and an end to Israeli occupation as outlined in UN resolution 242 and 338.


It was refreshing to receive an article by Patrick J. Buchanan where he says “The Sharonites are the mirror image of Hamas and Hezbollah”.

As I write I just got the following report from Nablus:

“Al-Khadra Mosque, oldest mosque in Nablus, located at the southern entrance to the Old City was destroyed last night by Israeli forces in their continued military assault on Palestinian towns and cities.

Bombardment by air and land continued throughout the night on the Old City of Nablus and on the Balata and Askar refugee camps. Eye witnesses report at least three helicopter gunships currently over the Balata refugee camp, firing missiles into these heavily populated civilians areas, and smoke rising from refugee homes on the edge of the camp.”

I knew this mosque…it was a real historic site. What a shame.

In Ramallah, the tank shelling is off and on, sometimes intense. The tanks were across the street yesterday searching homes. The first time I left the house was the day before yesterday when the Israeli military curfew was lifted for 3 hrs. Many rushed to get any food goods left in the stores. Of course, the stores are low on goods and running out of supply. Not one commercial truckload of food supply has been allowed to enter the city since the start of this mess. The bakeries were working and bread lines were long.

I went and visited my Aunt Lekka, she is 70 yrs old and only lives with her sister-in-law and her two girls. While driving to her house I took a right turn at the Jaffer Sweets intersection only to be faced with two
tanks pointing their barrels at my car. They had the road dug up. I turned around and learned that half of the cities roads are either dug with ditches or destroyed buy the tanks rolling all day on them. When the Israelis first invaded Ramallah at the beginning of April for 3 days, Aunt Lekka was held at gunpoint for the whole period at her neighboors house while her house become home to 100 Israeli soldiers who made an absolute mess of it, including stealing a lot of her personal belongings before ransacking then leaving.

This time around they have not used her home as a military outpost but they have entered to search the house twice. When I was there, I saw 6 huge Israeli tanks on the side of her house. When I walked in she was surprised I made it to her, she laughed and said, “Do they actually think they are going to scare us from our homes like they did in 1948. I feel sorry for them.” Aunt Lekka is my personal hero and that is why she was interviewed in an oral history book I co-edited after the first Gulf War.

One positive thing can be said of this mess. The Palestinians have lived with Israel’s total disregard for human, civil, political and economic rights for 35 yrs now! Sometimes just as intense as what we are seeing today, most of the times via a more systematic and sustained aggression which is hard to take a picture of. The last 9 days has given the world a glance at the real face of Israeli occupation, something that we have had a hard time explaining in words. Well, now the world knows Israeli occupation may be worse than apartheid. Both have the same fate, tumbling down in a bitter collapse. We now only need proper leadership to tap the international expressions of support from the streets of NY to China.

It seems the “Never Again” slogan so heavily used by Israel has been changed to “Just One More Time”!

Well, I must go to think about how we can organize getting all of these Israeli war crimes to The Hague as soon as possible after the occupation is ended and start to rebuild our Country, this time with much more insight into our neighbors. Also, I promised my daughter Areen that we would have Debka practice at home. Mom is the instructor, Areen the student and me and her sister Nadine are the audience.

P.S. Areen is next to me and advises that I should tell everyone of the Palestine Band that we created the other day. Areen plays the plastic flute and Nadine on the wooded harmonica. These are they only instruments we had, but our high spirits make up for the rest.