Update from ISM

The Indymedia Palestine site was down so I compiled the following as an update from ISM volunteers on the ground in Palestine. There are many things that I have left out, not on purpose, but there’s just so much. As I’m about to send this out, the site is back up. Please continue to refer to it for up-to-the-minute reports from the International Solidarity Movement.

AP Photo /Elizabeth Dalziel

Right: Palestinian Assad Faisal Issam, 10, who lost his eyesight, one arm and injured most of his body when an unexploded landmine blew up injuring him and four others, lies in a hospital bed in the Jenin refugee camp Monday, April 22, 2002. In the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, fierce fighting ended more than a week ago, over a dozen people have been wounded in the past two days by stepping on unexploded devices, or opening booby trapped doors. (AP Photo /Elizabeth Dalziel).

Jenin: ISM volunteers Richard Johnson and Sofia Ahmed witnessed two young boys “blown up” in a small field in Jenin Camp yesterday. Sofia reports being only 40 meters away when something exploded. “Although we can’t be positive what it was that exploded, four days ago we saw Israeli soldiers on foot in the exact same place.” The two boys are Assad Ibrahim Arsal, 10 years old, and Saaed Subhi Wahsh, 10 years old. Assad is not expected to survive. ISM volunteer Brian Wood, who saw the boys at the hospital, reports that Assad’s whole body is damaged. He has lost part of his left arm and part of his left leg. His right leg is also severely damaged and his whole face is charred. Saaed also sustained all over body wounds. Brian reports his face being damaged and eyes swollen shut. Saaed seems to have a better chance of survival but will need extensive physical therapy that will not be available to him here.

All of the international civilians in Jenin report hearing daily explosions that have resulted in over a dozen casualties. “The place is littered with unexploded ordinances. It’s scary” said Brian. We only know of 2 bomb disposal experts sent by the Norwegian Red Cross that are now in Jenin.

“This is one of the nastiest things that I have ever seen. There’s NO help in here.” — Brian Wood

The people of the Jenin Refugee camp continue digging with their hands in the rubble of their own homes to look for loved ones. There are only three earthmovers in the refugee camp moving rubble, while there are over 200 mounds of rubble that used to be homes. Today we heard of the presence of a small search & rescue team in Jenin Camp, brought in by the United Nations. A Turkish journalist from Star TV (Turkey) mentioned to us that he had covered the massive earthquake in Turkey two years ago. According to him “Jenin Camp was worse.” So why is there only one search & rescue team in Jenin?

Foreign civilians and journalists have reported being fired upon by Israeli machine guns trying to exit Jenin.

Apache helicopters are still reported to be flying over Jenin. Another method of terrorizing already terrorized Palestinian civilians.

Bethlehem: rumors are that the 5 that surrendered (came out) from the Church of the Nativity were collaborators with Israel. We haven’t been able to reach our contacts inside the church and so this is thus far unconfirmed by us. The one strong suggestion that this might be true is the Israeli Army video footage shown on television. Israeli Army footage always blurs the faces of Israeli soldiers but never the faces of the Palestinians (why should they?). The footage of the surrender of these five blurs the faces of the Palestinians. The town remains under siege and total curfew.

Ramallah: Yesterday we received reports that the Israeli Army was planning to send a special commando unit into the Presidential compound. Such a move would have endangered the lives of the over 300 civilians inside, Palestinian and international. The ISM quickly planned a pre-emptive action. In the end 6 more international civilians are inside the compound, 2 Americans, 2 Britons, 1 Dane and 1 French (see below for details).

11:00am: a group of 12 Israelis, including the noted activist and former Member of Knesset (Israeli parliament), Uri Avnery, marched towards the Presidential compound in Ramallah. Their attempts to approach the compound were thwarted by Israeli soldiers. The Israelis carried signs reading: “Stop Sharon’s War Crimes”, “Sharon = Death” and “Soldiers go Home” in Hebrew and “Arafat is Our Partner” in English.

11:15am: 10 foreign civilians, 8 French, 1 Briton, and 1 Brazilian came out of the Presidential compound and were immediately arrested by Israeli forces. It is expected that they will be deported although we have not yet heard from them.

22 foreign civilians remain inside the Presidential compound.

This evening the internationals inside the Presidential compound reported that they were witnesses to the start of the trial for the 4 Palestinians suspected of killing Israeli Minister Rahavam Ze’evi. The court is a military/civilian one, in which 3 judges sit. The suspects had been moved from Nablus to Ramallah in a move coordinated by the US, an acknowledgement on the part of the United States that the PA did not have to turn over suspects or extradite them to Israel. Israel has never handed over suspected killers of Palestinians to the Palestinian Authority. Furthermore, Israel has never made a move to try suspected killers of Palestinian men, women and children.

…………..

April 21, 2002

International Solidarity Movement

Internationals Enter Presidential Compound in Ramallah

Seek to Preempt Israeli Raid

Under threat of an Israeli commando raid on the Presidential Compound in Ramallah — where over 300 Palestinians are holed up with 26 Internationals — six more Internationals entered the compound. Earlier in the day, Israel announced that it was planning an assault on the compound. Additionally, the French consulate sent in three cars to try to remove the French nationals who had been in the compound since March 31, the first such effort by the French and a further indication of the intent of the Israelis to take action.

The mission to get the internationals — including 2 Americans, 2 British, 1 French and 1 Danish citizen — inside safely involved two teams totaling over 30 foreign nationals. As one team approached the main gate of the compound on Irsal Street, the second “entry team” approached from the rear of the compound.

The first team entered the main gate and immediately drew the attention of the Israeli soldiers located at the front of the compound. Internationals, including Scottish MP Lloyd Quinan and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly, were met with force by Israeli soldiers, including stun grenades and live ammunition fired in their direction. One American was slapped in the face by an Israeli soldier, while another Scottish citizen had his camera taken, broken and his film confiscated. Two Scottish flags were taken and torn by Israeli soldiers. The Internationals were then forcefully pushed out, being violently shoved even as they were trying to retreat and having stun grenades thrown at them as they exited the compound and walked towards the city center of Ramallah.

Meanwhile, the “entry team” approached the rear entrance of the compound and was met by a single Israeli tank. Soldiers from inside the tank threw teargas and stun grenades, but the Internationals were undeterred. The tank then moved into position and started firing live ammunition in the direction of the Internationals. Moving forward with their hands raised toward the door of the building in which the Palestinians are staying with the other Internationals, the group encountered Israeli soldiers deployed on the ground. At this point the team of 6 was able to hop over the barbed wire cordon and enter the building. The remaining Internationals were escorted off the grounds of the compound by Israeli troops.

The names and nationalities of the 6 foreign civilians that entered the presidential compound:

Ms. Rebecca Murray, New York, USA
Mr. Kevin Skvorak, New York, USA
Mr. Peter Brachenridge, London, UK
Mr. Nikilai Hanselt, Copenhagen, Denmark
Mr. James Matthews, London England