Palestinian Reports, April 2002, pt 3

Sarah Irving, 17th April 2002ce

Fri, 05 Apr 2002 05:31:28

hello again,

just an update of stuff from during the night.

9 men were killed in the nativity church during the night, a report confirmed by those inside the building. they were shot through the doors which have been blown off the back of the church. worry increases for the rest of those inside - so much for a halt to the attack.

apache helicopters (yes, American ones) have killed many while firing on balata refugee camp.

the governor of Nablus (I met him in December) has had his home taken over by troops who have destroyed the inside.

red crescent ambulances have been allowed to deliver some food and water but no medical aid to Arafat's compound. the president is on the verge of running out of vital personal medication.

a number of internationals, including a French man suffering heart attack symptoms, left the presidential compound last night with alleged safe passage from the IDF. neither they nor their red cross drivers had been heard from since, as of the early hours of this morning, around 10 hours after they left on the journey to qalandia checkpoint which, even under present conditions, should only take about an hour.

in Atara, a village near Bir Zeit university, an old man trying to reach hospital was stopped in the street by Israeli forces and died in the street.

the fact that this place is so damn beautiful just makes this all the harder; looking out of the window in the early morning light (now it's stopped chucking it down) over the white stone houses of Bethlehem and the olive groves, the sounds of tanks are all the more grating...

to my friends and especially family; please be careful, especially mum; [a colleague]'s parents in New York have been driven from their home by death threats from right wing Zionists. and the brits on the plane home last night were 'abused' by Israelis with them and had to be escorted from the airport by police. I don't want my insane actions to rebound on you guys! I love you too much.

holding on,


Sun, 07 Apr 2002 09:26:33

hey all,

greetings again from the increasingly hellish place that is the west bank. reports out of Jenin are truly appalling; houses being bulldozed on top of their occupants and teargas being dropped by helicopter onto the refugee camp whilst people flee their homes. A doctor in the main hospital is using the word massacre, which Palestinians don't do lightly. and of course there are not internationals in Jenin or Nablus, so everything that comes out of there gets questioned by the press because it's not verified by the IDF - such sick logic.

here a bunch of us tried to get an ambulance up to the church of the nativity where people are down to salt and water and have still not had proper medical attention. we had a warning shot fired at us, and then our Hebrew speaker approached, but we were told we would under no circumstances be allowed through. there have been lots of arrests here in house-to-house searched this morning, and the army are doing shoot-to-kill curfew today, to prevent the Sunday morning Christian march the church leaders called from Beit Sahour and Beit Jala.

there are also tanks massing outside Gaza, they had planes overhead last night, and some areas have lost electricity, often a precursor to an attack. and in the muqada they are dangerously low on food and water, and conditions are becoming increasingly unsanitary.

we are trying to get food and medicine out to people in the Bethlehem area, but it is difficult because of the curfew. the humanitarian aid community need to address this now.

in the IMC, we are going a bit mad but Indy the puppy keeps our spirits up; he has just learned to bark and is using his new-found skill assiduously.

take care, all.



Sun, 07 Apr 2002 10:30:38

hey again,

the other thing I forgot to say - and it needs saying - is that in Jenin yesterday the IDF announced an end to the curfew so that people could come and get water, and a load of women and old men came out to do so. they were detained and strapped to the front of tanks as shields, after which the tanks recommenced bombarding the very homes of the people tied to them.
outside Ramallah, Palestinian man, the brother-in-law of one of our contacts here, was one of several hundred men held in a dried-up sewage pit overnight, in driving rain. when someone complained of the treatment to which they were being subjected, he was told by the IDF commander that the difference between them and him was that he, the Israeli, was a human being. from here, it's very much looking like the opposite is true.

s xxx

Sun, 07 Apr 2002 11:04:37

just a little additional one to say that our ISP is in Nablus and has been bombed, so we only have sporadic dialup connection, so don't worry if you don't hear too much from me for a bit. I shouldn't be on this at the mo...

if anyone needs statements from here, which can have names and phone numbers here on them, for public meetings, local press etc etc etc, please feel free to ring us. also, Allegra Pacheco, an Israeli Jewish human rights lawyer, is eminently available for interview over here. please pass it on.

and if anyone has fundraising sources, we really really need funds for geek expenses at the IMC because we're running up huge internet bills on the accounts of sympathisers because of the bombed leaseline. Call us here!

s xxx

Mon, 08 Apr 2002 11:51:25

dear all,

got woken up after my first decent nights sleep here by the sound of machine gun fire and a tank shell. still haven't verified where it came from, but things have quietened down now. curfew has apparently been lifted until 5pm today, although as with the other day we don't know if that's Israeli 5pm or Palestinian, which effectively means losing an hour at the end in case it's Israeli 5pm and they start shooting at what you think is 4o'clock...Georgie rang the district command this morning to get curfew details and was told that they wouldn't tell her them coz she might be a terrorist plotting attacks...

there were press reports that the IDF had gone into the nativity church this morning; the truth of this seems to be that one shell was lobbed in and a fire started, with one of the people trapped inside being shot dead whilst trying to put the fire out. still no ambulances etc allowed up there, and some of the people wounded have been there a week now. I spoke to a local activist a few days ago who cried as he told me about how he was getting phone calls from wounded friends inside and from a little girl whose father is his friend and whom is in there. and now all their phone batteries have run down so there is not even that cold comfort.

at least 100 people were arrested in the Bethlehem area yesterday, including a large number in Beit Sahour. one family had all 8 of their sons taken. in Beit Sahour a number of houses were also destroyed, including that of the family of one of the men from the town killed in a targeted assassination last autumn. the arrested are being shipped down to a prison near Hebron, or held in the building which is Arafat's residence when he's here. a group of internationals in the street breaking curfew yesterday encountered a group of lads who'd just been released and accompanied them to comparative safety, as the IDF often release people during curfew so that they can arrest them again for breaking we spoke to them, we also saw a troop carrier loaded with young Palestinian men driving past...a truly chilling sight, given the possible fate that could be awaiting them. I spoke to a woman in Beit Sahour this morning who also told me of how a tank sat outside her house for the whole of yesterday, stopping every ambulance heading for the clinic down the road (the one where I was treated in December) and holding them for an hour each time, IDing the occupants and staff, and then doing the same on way back up. one of the soldiers there also threatened her little girl with a gun for looking out of the window one too many times...

a few of us after food yesterday were also stopped and held in the road for about 20 minutes outside al-husayn hospital. we'd been given a large quantity of food by the brothers at the university which the IDF had left behind! it seemed fitting that the ambulances at the hospital should get it to distribute it to take round to camps, but apparently this made us suspicious and we were held and id'd. the monks had their residence at the uni invaded by IDF with grappling hooks last week, and they left some other paraphernalia as well as food - quikcuffs (apparently manufactured by R Wolf), a helmet, a metal box with egg-holes for carrying grenades, and some batteries, brand name SAFT. the monks also have a large rocket that went through their library during the last incursion a couple of months ago. such an obvious target, a bunch of brothers who teach English and hotel management and history to teenagers...

still appalling reports coming out of Jenin and Nablus, with terrible loss of life and fundamentally disgusting things being done to people. a group of internationals are heading over there at the moment, and conveys are being attempted in the next few days, especially for medical supplies.

take care, my loves,


Mon, 08 Apr 2002 22:50:35

hey all,

ok, lets try this again. I got kicked offline by one of the machistas trying to backtrack on the extraordinary fuckup they just perpetrated on our other laptop, but my first effort was shit anyway.

besides, I’ve just seen footage from Jenin, of a woman and her kid both sitting in hospital with their faces all mashed up, and of IDF loudhailers calling out all the men to who knows what fate - often this is the men between about 14 and 45, to cover potential 'terrorists,' but by the look of it they must have called up to 60, since some of them looked so old and frail.

we had our first real curfew lift today; amazing to see how people appeared so quickly in the streets, scurrying around in the sunshine to reach food, their first access in days. although the IDF did their thing from last week again and called the lift off about an hour and a half before they'd previously announced, and notified us by starting to shoot randomly. the final clincher was an APC and a jeep stopping an ambulance in the street outside our kitchen window and raking the ground around it with m16 fire, and then at our building also...we've had rather a lot of that ever since the fuckwits at Independent Media Center Israel phoned the IDF and told them our exact location, and the IDF broadcast that on their radio station. there've also been flares and machine gun fire this evening, and ground activity around Azza camp, which is worrying.

in the church of the nativity this morning the IDF tried to get in by chucking a shell in, which started a fire, and one of the trapped people was killed by a sniper when he tried to put it out. however, the IDF soldiers who tried to enter apparently sustained 4 casualties and lost 3 M16s to the trapped Palestinians - those that were armed had laid down their weapons on the way in so apparently this has raised spirits somewhat, despite the fact that they are now without food and there are worries that the IDF will go in tonight. this info came from our friendly Bethlehem TV cameraman, Khaled, who comes to hang out with us in the evenings sometimes. he's a big, bluff bear of a man who usually brings beer with him and who is incredibly brave - or foolish - yesterday when we were being held in the street by soldiers he had his camera right up the arse of an APC, whilst the international press cowered round the ambulance. right now he and da boyz are discussing Marx and anarchism in Arabic.

there have been lots of arrests here also, including one family who have had all 8 of their sons taken.

for me, the curfew lift was pretty good, especially having the confidence to walk somewhere by myself. I know it's so little compared with what every Palestinian here is dealing with, but it's been a bit tough being in this office for over a week now, working, eating and sleeping in 5 rooms with at least 4 other people at any one time, and I’ve had maybe 7 hours outside of here in all that time, so I’m going a little stir crazy.

'Kate' [who was hospitalised with abdominal bullet wounds last week] herself was, I think, released today, and was in pretty good spirits when I saw her yesterday. she had an x-ray which confirms that she actually has 6 pieces of bullet lodged inside her, and they ain't comin' out. it also confirms, I think, that it was a direct hit and not just bounced shrapnel. fucking bastards.

anyway, I guess I’ve been on here a while. take care, my dears, and see you soon, insh'allah.



Tue, 09 Apr 2002 08:56:04

dear all,

g vanished out of the office this morning and has just called me to say that she's walking to Beit Sahour with a group of about 35 men who've just been released from Israeli custody; they've been held for a week, and during that time have been beaten and tortured. a horrible fact which doesn't surprise me but is so hideous in the confirmations. one of them estimates that there are at least 1,000 being held in the presidential palace - a shockingly large number; we knew of hundreds but not that many. there is speculation that today will see more releases (though the curfew will not apparently be lifted so it's very dangerous for them to be outside).

weird phone calls this morning; one would hope that Mossad [Israeli secret service], with all their funding and supposed expertise, could come up with some slightly more sophisticated attempts at agents provocateurs. either that or we just have an influx of nutters this morning. at least we haven't had a any rightist Zionist psychos for a day or so screaming at us that they hope the IDF get better aim with their tank shells...

a group of internationals have headed out to Nablus to try and do what they can there, and CNN have been asking us about a 'leftist demo' (god they are so stupid and fossilised in their thinking and phraseology) at Jenin. I hope it's true, anyway.

to those of you doing actions and demos and letter writing and press work and fundraising. you are all stars. if fundraising for IMC isn't your thing, physicians for human rights have a big appeal out for funds to try and get medical aid into Jenin and Nablus, and god almighty do they need it.

it's beautiful out, if chillingly quiet, but even while the humans have to cower in their homes the Bethlehem bird and cat life continues its soap opera convolutions...

sarah xxx

P.S. keep an eye on the website for updates, and hopefully soon for some mp3s of 'sounds from the IMC office.'