Israel Commits a Massacre
At Least Thirty-Four Palestinians Killed in Less than Twenty-Four Hours
5 April 2002
Palestine Media Center, PMC
In the bloodiest day yet of Israel's war on Palestine, Israeli occupation forces murdered at least thirty-four Palestinians, including one child. In Jenin, A Massacre Unfolds: The fiercest fighting took place in this small northern West Bank town. Israeli occupation forces used tanks and Apache helicopter gunships to wreak havoc on Jenin's refugee camp in an as of yet futile attempt to enter and occupy it. The refugee camp, which does not exceed 1 square kilometer in area is densely populated and has been the source of unwavering resistance to this and earlier Israeli military assaults. After occupying the entire city, Israeli occupation forces raided and occupied Mr. Walid Abu Mueis's home. Mr. Abu Mueis, Jenin's Mayor, was inside his home at the time of the raid.
Eyewitnesses confirm that a number of tanks surrounded the house before Israeli occupation forces entered it on foot. All contacts have been lost with Jenin's Mayor since then. While targeting Jenin's Mayor was not unprecedented, it added to the already present Palestinian conviction that the ongoing Israeli military assault is aimed at destroying the very infrastructure of the Palestine National Authority and attacking every symbol of Palestinian sovereignty. Since it began its offensive against Jenin, Israeli occupation forces have killed at least twenty Palestinians, thirteen of whom died in the past twenty-four hours. The number is not yet comprehensive as medical crews have been virtually paralyzed by the incessant Israeli shelling. Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) officials confirm the presence of a horrifically large number of injuries in Jenin, especially in the refugee camp. The same officials also express deep sorrow that they have been unable to carry out their duties due to the intensity of the shelling as well as the explicit Israeli prohibition to do so.
Jenin's Public Hospital was shelled today, after it had already sustained great damage yesterday. Medical sources in the city's Al-Razi hospital also confirm that the Israeli shelling targeted their water storage facility as well as the hospital's upper floor. Earlier, nurses in Al-Razi hospital were forced to raise white flags as they tried to rescue an injured civilian, lying on the hospital's entrance. The nurses were immediately fired on and had to retrieve. According to Dr. Ziad Al-I'sa, the hospital Director confirmed that after two hours of pleading with the soldiers, the nurses were able to reach the injured civilian, who has yet to be identified, but he had passed away already. “The man was calling out for help, saying "for the love of God! Somebody help me' and none of us were able to reah him. It was devastating. By the time they allowed us to reach him, it was too late, Dr. I'sa described. Meanwhile in Jenin's battered refugee camp, Israeli occupation forces shelled the Al Sa'ed mosque, which has also been used as a make-shift emergency clinic. Eyewitnesses in the camp confirm that the mosque was burnt as a result of the shelling and an undetermined number of casualties and injuries remain in the area. Despite this desperate situation, the Israeli officer in command of the operation in Jenin vowed to literally shell any ambulance attempting to reach the refugee camp in order to rescue those who have been injured.
To further add to the suffering of the civilian population, Israeli occupation forces cut off the water supply to the entire city, its refugee camp, and the western villages. The soldiers forced Mr. Mohamed Nazzal, the employee in charge of the water reservoir feeding the city's demand, under the threat of gunpoint, to cut off the pump supplying the water. Mr. Nazzal and the guard were then chased by the Israeli forces to their homes. Only two of Jenin's victims' names are thus far available; 22 year-old Ahmad Abu Al-Haija and 24 year-old Lu'ai Jalamaneh. The Old City of Nablus: Three Thousand Years of History Shelled and Destroyed: The assault on Nablus began late Wednesday night, using tank shells and helicopter missiles and high-caliber machineguns to pound the Old City, which remains the toughest target in Nablus' reoccupation battle. During the indiscriminate shelling, 50 year old Sadiqa Ali was killed inside her home while her 53 year-old sister Latifa was seriously wounded when a tank shell slammed directly into their home. Thirty-five Ra'ed Freitekh was also injured in the abdomen by a high caliber bullet because of the indiscriminate Israeli shooting rampage inside the city.
The invading forces also promptly demolished the family homes of Shadi Al-Ttoubasi and nasser Jarad, shortly after the invasion. Israeli occupation forces also demolished an apartment building next to the Al-Najah mosque, where Nablus' Police chief, Col. Firas Al-Amleh, resides. In the streets of the Old City that occupation forces have effectively reoccupied, Israeli soldiers burned a number of cars parked in the area. Currently, the number of confirmed Palestinian casualties in Nablus stands at least twelve, most of whom are civilians. The number is likely to rise however, as medical crews are unable to reach the homes where injuries have been reported. Medical sources have only been able to confirm that out of the twelve casualties received, six were killed inside the Old City and four in the Balatta refugee camp.
In addition, witnesses confirm citing bodies strewn on the streets but are unable to retrieve or identify them due to the heavy shelling. Among the identified casulaties are 30 year-old Ra'ed Fattouh, 30 year-old Nasser Kharma, and 27 year-old Maher Omaira from the Balatta refugee camp. Four other civilians were killed and six were seriously injured in the Askar refugee camp after Israeli tanks shelled the victims as they were standing near a house. The city's renowned Najah (Success) University, known for its computer science study programs, was occupied by the invading forces and turned into a military camp. The mayor's house was no exception. Mr. Ghassan Abu Sharif, also member of the Palestine Liberation organization's Executive Committee, was subject to Israeli harassment. The forces occupied his home and detained his sons. The City's Governor was not spared either. Mr. Mahmoud Al-Aloul, whose son was killed in October 2001, was in his home when Israeli occupation forces surrounded and raided it, confiscating some of his private office's files.
In Ttoubas: In the town of Ttoubas, Israeli occupation forces committed a particularly grisly assassination against six Hamas activists. The activists, who were in hiding, were surrounded and shelled while seeking refuge inside a house, although Israeli occupation forces called on them to surrender. After four of the victims were killed because of the heavy shelling, the remaining two activists came out of the house carrying white flags, intending to surrender themselves. Instead, Israeli soldiers opened fire and killed them without hesitation. In the early morning hours, tens of Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers reoccupied the town, which lies east of Jenin, with heavy air cover. The indiscriminate Israeli shelling killed 13 yearold Dunia Sawafta and her 22 year-old cousin Iyad. In Tulkarem: The reoccupied city of Tulkarem continued to be under curfew while Israeli occupation soldiers proceed with their house-to-house search and arrest campaign.
A number of civilians were detained while other reported being beaten and insulted during the house search. Tulkarem's Governor, Mr. Izz Al-Din Al—Sharif, was also subject to the humiliating and often destructive house search campaign. His home and personal office have also been searched during a house raid. During the afternoon hours, Israeli occupation forces lifted the curfew for two hours although it strictly prohibited the use of cars. Consequently, many residents were unable to even reach a store or pharmacy that was open to get what they needed of the fast dwindling food and medical supplies. In nearby Salfit, Israeli occupation forces detained at least twelve civilians and two National Security officers after raiding their homes. Bethlehem: The City of Peace Has it Not Anymore: After an Israeli sniper murdered 45-year old Samir Salman yesterday, the Church of nativity's bell ringer, Israeli forces continue to shell and surround Jesus' birth grotto. "He was a simple guy. He never harmed any person", described Anton Salman, a relative who is also inside the besieged church.
At least 300 Palestinians are inside the Church of Nativity, surrounded and shelled by the Israeli occupation forces since the reoccupation of Bethlehem three days ago. While the Latin Church in Jerusalem confirms that approximately 150 of them are Palestinian resistance fighters, it also confirms that they are unarmed and had sought refuge from certain death inside the church. In a phone conversation with the Palestine Media Center, Father Raed Abu Sahlieh of the Latin Church stated, “We do not deny that some resistance fighters have sought refuge in the Church of Nativity. However, as Patriarch Michel Sabah has repeatedly stated, they are now in the protection of the Church and we hold Israel totally responsible for what could happen to them or to the civilians with them. The Church has declared that it shall not surrender any of these men and we warn Israel of storming into the church". Father Sahlieh, who expressed disappointment at some media reports that distorted the story into one that makes the civilians inside the Church seem as hostages, emphasized, “These men were welcomed by the Church and they are not holding anyone hostage. In fact, the priests and nuns inside the basilica are sharing the little they have of food and water with them. The Patriarch has instructed all churches in Bethlehem to hang olive branches on the doors and a sign that states; "Soldiers and tanks are not allowed to enter'.
We consider the churches and monasteries as sacrosanct places and anyone inside them is under the protection of the church". News reports from the church confirm that the last meal available to those in the Church of nativity was yesterday's lunch. Israeli occupation forces continue to adamantly deny the Red Cross or any other party access to the Holy place. Meanwhile, Israeli occupation forces lifted the curfew imposed on Bethlehem and its surrounding towns for three hours, although this did not include Bethlehem's Old City and the areas surrounding the Church of Nativity. Nonetheless, Israeli occupation soldiers and snipers injured a number of civilians who gathered the courage to leave their homes during these two hours. Among the injured was a French journalist, who was shot in the leg. Israeli forces also occupied a number of homes and turned them into military outposts and sniper positions. Also today, Ms. Ahlam Shakarneh, a dialysis patient from Bethlehem's town of Nahalin, died after Israeli occupation forces prohibited an ambulance to transport her to the hospital, where she would have received life-saving treatment. In the same village, a woman reportedly gave birth to a still baby after she was unable to reach a nearby hospital; her name was not made available. House searches and detentions continued in Bethlehem meanwhile, with Israeli occupation forces detaining fourteen National Forces officers in the city.
Qalqilia:Medical sources in Qalqilia confirm that 23 year-old Mohamed Al-Abidi was killed late last night. Medical examination confirm that his body received approximately 200 bullets, after which his body was detained for hours only to be released later on today. It remains unclear how the victim, who was a National Forces officer ans is originally from the Gaza Strip, was killed in such a manner, especially that no confrontations were reported where he was murdered. Ramallah, the Besieged Temporary Capital: A family's tragedy in Ramallah today transcended all of Israel's roadblocks and military orders to reach Tulkarem at the northern tip of the West Bank. Twenty-five year-old Suha Abdel Karim, a Tulkarem native and Ramallah patient, died of lung cancer today in the City's beleaguered public hospital. Her family members, accompanying her through treatment in Ramallah, tried to transport her to Tulkarem in order to be buried in her hometown. However, after Israeli occupation forces lifted the eight-day long curfew on Ramallah for two hours, during which her family reached the Qalandia military checkpoint, Israeli occupation forces denied them and the body access through the checkpoint.
After being threatened at gunpoint, Suha's family were left with no choice but to bury her in the Qalandia area, approximately three hundred meters away from the checkpoint at which they were turned back. “The Israeli occupation's measures are leading us to have babies see the light at the checkpoints, others die, and now some even get buried near them", commented Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, director of the Medical relief Committee. The city's residents had two hours to go out in the sun today, although prisoners usually get that each day. Taking careful steps and making sure to walk in groups, Ramallah's residents took to the streets to buy the food and medicine they needed, praying that Israeli snipers were not out hunting. Empty bullet cases covered Ramallah's streets while devastation was evident everywhere.
Light poles bent and leveled to the ground, traffic lights laying on the floor, and store owners overwhelmed by their colossal damages. While some stores were able to open their doors and provide families with much needed food and medicine, most had been completely ransacked and destroyed by the occupying forces, who watched nervously, with guns pointed at the shopping civilians, throughout the two hours. Gunshots are heard intermittently in Ramallah while house-to-house searches and detentions continue unabated. During the late night hours, loud explosions were heard around the besieged presidential compound although no one could confirm any details. Israeli occupation forces had cut off the electricity supply to the compound again tonight.