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Palestine: the evidence nobody can ignore

Israel has used the most modern instruments of military terror to destroy civilian areas. Bush, Sharon and Blair are guilty...

Issue No. 1796

They made Jenin a slaughterhouse

'A TERRIBLE crime has been committed by Israel in Jenin refugee camp, and the world is turning a blind eye.' That was how journalist Justin Huggler, writing in the Independent, described what happened in Jenin last week.

Jenin is a refugee camp in the West Bank. It was created when Israel drove Palestinians from their homes in the huge ethnic cleansing that marked the foundation of Israel in what had been Palestine in 1948. Generations of Palestinians have lived in exile in camps like Jenin ever since. In 1967 Israel expanded through war to seize and occupy the West Bank. Last week Israel tried to destroy the town and its people, bombing and bulldozing, killing anyone who got in its way.

Justin Huggler's was just one of the reports which spelled out the horror of what happened:

'A woman with her leg all but ripped off by a helicopter rocket, the mangled remains hanging on by a thread of skin as she slowly bleeds to death. A ten year old boy lying dead in the street, his arm blown off and a great hole in his side. The wounded left to die slowly, in horrible agony, because the ambulances were not allowed in to treat them. We saw the helicopter rockets rain down on desperately crowded areas-civilian casualties could not have been prevented.

The Israeli army sealed off the entire area around Jenin. That is because they have something to hide-the bodies. For days Jenin camp became a slaughterhouse. Thousands of terrified civilians, women and children cowered inside their homes while the Israeli helicopters rained down rockets on them and tanks fired shells into the camp.

The Red Cross has publicly said people have died because Israel blocked ambulances. Yusra Ahma, a mentally disabled woman, was killed by a helicopter rocket in her home. Munir Washabi bled to death over several hours after a helicopter round came through the wall of his home. Munir's mother, Maryam, ran into the street screaming for help for her son and was shot in the head by Israeli soldiers.'


Helicopters were used to kill civilians

'WE WATCHED the Israeli armour pour in from a rooftop in the adjoining village of Wad Burqin. We watched the fighting. But fighting is the wrong word. It suggests a parity of violence. Instead what we could see was a long range assault, unequal in every part. The Apache helicopter gunships hovered like an angry swarm above the city, approaching, often in pairs, and firing bursts of cannon fire every five minutes into the camp. We learn the consequences of these strafing runs five days later. Dr Zaid Ayasi, director of the hospital, tells us that many of the civilian victims that he knows of were hit by helicopter fire.'
PETER BEAUMONT in the Observer


Prisoners beaten and denied food

'HUNDREDS OF Palestinians have disappeared since Israel began its onslaught in the West Bank less than two weeks ago. Details are only now emerging about what has happened to them, and how they say they have been tortured and humiliated by Israeli forces. Inside Ofer, an Israeli army base, up to 1,000 Palestinians are detained and have been regularly beaten with wooden batons. They are forced to spend nights sitting in the dirt outside in the cold, in their underwear. They are refused food for days at a time. This is according to evidence collected by respected Israeli human rights organisations.'
PHIL REEVES in the Independent


Israeli PM Sharon has grisly past

JENIN IS not the first war crime and massacre in Ariel Sharon's bloody career. In 1982 Israel invaded Lebanon. Sharon was in charge of armed operations. Israel's troops surrounded the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

They allowed the armed militia of the Lebanese Phalangist fascist organisation to enter the camps and massacre some 2,000 Palestinians. Journalist Robert Fisk, who wrote the definitive account of the upheavals in Lebanon in the 1980s, says that Sharon then 'handed more than 1,000 survivors over to those same murderers to be slaughtered over the following two weeks'.

The official Israeli Kahan commission found Ariel Sharon 'personally responsible' for what happened at Sabra and Shatilla.


Who paid for the guns and bullets?

THE JENIN massacre was carried out on the orders of Israel's prime minister, the war criminal Ariel Sharon. But equally guilty are US president George W Bush and his Secretary of State, Colin Powell. George Bush had been forced by anger across the Arab world to make the gesture of calling on Israel to pull back its forces. Bush was also forced to say that Powell would travel to the Middle East on a 'peace mission'.

Yet instead of going directly there Powell spent a week travelling the globe, giving the Israeli regime the green light to continue its killing. And once there Powell was pictured smiling and laughing with Sharon while the Jenin killing continued. Powell was seen joking about the Israeli leader's plans to take over the whole of Jerusalem and drive Arabs out of the occupied east of the city. The US Secretary of State refused to meet Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat until he condemned the latest suicide attack.

That attack, carried out in desperation by a young Palestinian driven to despair by Israel's terror, killed six people. Powell did not denounce Sharon for the hundreds of Palestinians he has killed. Sharon knew the US's attitude meant he could carry on his massacres. He simply ignored Bush's call for him to withdraw his forces, carried on the killing in Jenin, and then invaded six more Palestinian towns.


Blair & Straw's disgrace

IN BRITAIN Tony Blair and his foreign secretary, Jack Straw, wrung their hands about the horror in the Middle East. Yet they cosied up to Sharon's regime and looked the other way while he carried out the Jenin massacre.

Straw and Blair's real view was made clear on the day that the evidence of the massacre in Jenin emerged. Straw refused to back a resolution at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights which condemned Israel for 'mass killings'.

Among the European Union countries only Britain, Germany and Italy blocked the resolution. Other European states voted for the it, though they later refused to back any action against Israel.


Hardened reporter shocked by reality

ON TUESDAY the first accounts emerged from inside Jenin of what Israel had done. Western journalists who entered the town were shocked by what they found.

'THE REFUGEES I had interviewed in recent days were not lying. If anything they underestimated the carnage. Rarely-in more than a decade of war reporting from Bosnia, Chechnya, Sierra Leone, Kosovo-have I seen such deliberate destruction, such disrespect for human life. I have seen demolished houses before. I have seen wells stuffed with bodies. I have seen civilians terrorised and living under siege. But what remains of Jenin camp is a wasteland of death.'
JANINE DI GIOVANNI in the Times

'WHEN WE penetrated into the exclusion zone yesterday it became clear why the Israelis had done their utmost to shield Jenin camp from prying eyes. The camp, still a closed zone, lies in the heart of Jenin town that once consisted of tightly packed flat roofed houses. All but a few of the streets had been blown apart. In the Harat al Hawashin area, which has been worst hit, the streets have ceased to exist.'
DAVID BLAIR in the Daily Telegraph

'A RESIDENTIAL area of roughly 160,000 square yards, about a third of a mile wide, has been reduced to dust. The sweet and ghastly reek of rotting human bodies is everywhere.'
PHIL REEVES in the Independent


Most media support Israel

THE TV news in Britain is consistently biased in favour of Israel, a study by the academic Glasgow Media Group has found. The study, led by Professor Greg Philo of Glasgow University, found that in particular the news did not explain any of the history or background to what is happening in Palestine.

Only 9 percent of people in a sample knew, for example, that Israel was an occupying force in the West Bank. The study blamed Israeli government lobbying for the bias of the news we are fed.


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Sat 20 Apr 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1796
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