|Year 2002 No. 63, March 3, 2002||ARCHIVE||HOME||SEARCH||SUBSCRIBE|
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
International Conference on the Israeli Law of Return and its Impact on the Conflict in Palestine
Diary from Ramallah
Dispatches from Ramallah
Open Letter to the Commander of the Israeli Paratroopers
Tens of Thousands Take Part in Anti-Israeli Protests across Germany
Denunciations of Israeli during Cuban Celebrations of Palestinian "Land Day"
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Tony Blair is to press ahead with a visit to the US this week. He will delay his departure to the Texas summit with President Bush until after the recall of Parliament on Wednesday, and so that he can pay his respects at the lying in state of the Queen Mother. Tony Blair is expected to return to attend her funeral on Tuesday next week.
It is reported that the Prime Minister regards the meeting with President Bush as of the highest international importance and the decision is said to have been made in consultation with Buckingham Palace.
At the top of the agenda is reported to be the Anglo-US plans to remove the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for harbouring "weapons of mass destruction". Voices are being raised demanding that Tony Blair restrain George W Bush from military aggression against Iraq. At the same time, Tony Blair has been the chief ally of the US President in pointing the finger at Iraq, continuing to violate Iraqs airspace, pursuing sanctions against the Iraqi people, and attempting to present justifications for further military intervention as part of the "war against terrorism". In this situation, the government has delayed plans to publish a dossier of what is has claimed to be evidence against Saddam Hussein amid concern that the document will fuel a backlash by MPs. Some reports have suggested that Downing Street has delayed publication fearing that it could expose disagreement between London and Washington about the existence of evidence.
A number of Labour MPs are also pressing that Wednesdays recall of Parliament be used for an emergency debate on the Middle East. Tam Dalyell said that there was a moral obligation of Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to make a statement on Israel's reoccupation of Palestinian Authority areas of the West Bank after tributes are paid to the Queen Mother. "I think it will be seen by many people to be very odd if this does not occur," Tam Dalyell said. Jeremy Corbyn said that holding an emergency debate was the "right thing to do". The situation in the Middle East has become "so grave that parliament should have been recalled to discuss it anyway", he said.
But according to a Times report on Tuesday, Tony Blair is resisting the call, suggesting that an emergency debate or statement would be inappropriate during a period of national mourning. "Parliament is being recalled so it can pay its tribute to the Queen Mother and that is the reason why MPs will be there," a spokesman for the Prime Minister was quoted as saying.
The recall during the Easter recess is the fourth since the events of September 11 in the US. The three previous occasions were to hold emergency debate on the "war against terrorism".
WDIE denounces the warmongering activities of Bush and Blair. No good will come of this summit between the two chief prosecutors of the "war against terrorism". Tony Blair is continuing to by-pass parliament, let alone heed the voice of the working class and people who are opposed to the warmongering path on which he has set the country. The government is also refusing to condemn Israel for its occupation of and aggression against Palestinian territory, and is continuing its bankrupt position of calling for "restraint from both sides".
The working class and people must continue to strengthen their own voice and organisation for what is just and in opposition to Anglo-US warmongering as the surest way of bringing about a change in the situation at this critical historical moment.
British forces being flown to Afghanistan will number around 1,700 soldiers by the weekend, it is reported.
Around 60 Royal Marines have already landed at Bagram air-base, and another 60 from a base in Arbroath, Scotland, are to follow. The troops will overall be under US command. They are joining some 200 advance troops from the unit who have been setting up camp outside the capital Kabul.
Eventually, 45 Commando will be joined by 29 Commando regiment Royal Artillery, 59 Independent Commando Squadron, Royal Engineers and elements of the Royal Logistics Regiment. Three Chinook helicopters of 27 Squadron, Royal Air Force, will also be deployed. These troops could be in combat by mid-April.
When asked about the operation, a military spokesman at Bagram Airport told Sky News: "I'm not going to speculate on how it's going to work but believe you me there's a lot of planning going into it and it will work." He added: "By mid April 45 Commando will be operational, I'm not saying on April 15 they will all march out of the camp gates with bayonets fixed but they will be operational and certainly deployable."
An MoD spokesman said: "They are trained in mountain and winter warfare. That is looking less likely to be necessary now but they will be part of any future operations against al-Qaida."
The "peacekeeping" forces of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan under British command, of which British troops already make up the bulk, are confined to the capital.
WDIE condemns this further escalation of British troops in pursuit of the "war against terrorism". The use of British armed forces in this unjust aggression on foreign soil is not acceptable.
Ministers have been accused of attempting to cover up negotiations aimed at selling Consignia's core Royal Mail business to the privatised Dutch postal group TPG.
Insiders said TPG had put forward plans for "an all-share takeover of Royal Mail". The news contradicts a statement given on March 21 in which the government denied claims of talks with an overseas bidder. The talks broke down two weeks ago and are now said to be "completely dead".
It seems that there is no line the government will not cross in its pursuit of the doctrine of privatisation and delivering public services to the highest bidders.
National Union of Journalists members at the Guardian Media-owned Greater Manchester Weekly Newspapers (North) have voted to strike for six days over low-pay and union recognition.
On the current pay scales trainee journalists at the company start on as little as £10,486per annum. The maximum anyone below the rank of deputy editor can earn is £17,692.
According to research published in the Guardian in June 2001 the average starting salary for graduates in the traditionally low paid retail and catering sectors is £17,000. This is the wage paid to highly experienced journalists who have degrees and professional qualifications. The chapel asked for a 7.5 percent rise to help catch up with other industries. The last management offer was 2.5 percent.
In the year to April 1, 2001, Greater Manchester Newspapers the division of Guardian Media involved made an after tax profit of £12.4 million.
In a secret ballot 100 percent of NUJ members who took part voted for a strike over low pay. On the day the result was declared the management of Greater Manchester Weekly Newspapers (North) announced that they were de-recognising the NUJ refusing to negotiate on pay and conditions.
It is the first time Guardian Media has ever de-recognised an NUJ chapel. The firm's flagship papers the Guardian and Observer regularly criticise bullying employers. The papers are read by thousands of trade union members.
Guardian Media is owned by the Scott Trust. The chair of the trust is Guardian writer Hugo Young. Miles Barter, NUJ northern regional organiser, issued a call on March 29 for support for the Greater Manchester Weekly Newspapers workers by emailing Hugo Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or faxing him at 0207 837 4530. A model letter is attached.
The strikes are due to happen on April 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, and May 1. There will be picket lines outside the offices of the Rochdale Observer, Asian News, Middleton Guardian, Heywood Advertiser, Rossendale Free Press, Accrington Observer, Oldham Advertiser, and Salford Advertiser. Please join the picket line and bring your banners.
Messages of support can be sent to the chapel (workplace branch) at email@example.com .
The dispute involving Wakefield-based Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group journalists who voted to strike over low pay has now been resolved.
The firm's original offer was a £300 per annum rise for everyone. After protracted negotiations, an 85 percent strike vote, and the threat of action the total package is now: a rise of £1,200 equal to 11.98 percent for trainees, and a promise of at least six percent for juniors next year; a rise of 2.5 percent at least £385 on all the senior bandings; an extra banding for seniors so the ten year rate is now paid after seven years, the 15 year rate is paid after ten years, and there is a new 15 year rate that means rises of around three percent and over £500pa for the longest serving senior journalists; a 50p rise in all meal allowances with a promise of 50p more next year; a one-off payment of £200 to photographers to cover wear and tear on cars; a promise to lobby management in Edinburgh for an increase in the mileage rate across the group. The graduate starting rate is now £11,760, the newly qualified senior rate is £15,685, and the basic rate for a senior with 15 years service is £17,591. Congratulations can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Palestinian Return Centre is organising an International Conference under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Arab League, Mr. Amru Mousa, at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London University, Thornhaugh St., Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, on Saturday & Sunday April 6-7, 2002. There is a registration fee.
1. Dr. Daud Abdullah, Senior Researcher, the Palestinian Return Centre
The Israeli Law of Return: an Historical Appraisal of its Origin & Purpose
2. Mr. Muhammad Abu al Haija, Chairman of the Committee of the Forty Unrecognised Villages
The Israeli Law of return and its impact on the unrecognised villages
3. Dr. Naseer Aruri, Palestinian academic resident in the USA and author of numerous articles on the Jewish Diaspora
Role of the Jewish Diaspora in Implementing the Israeli Law of Return
4. Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, Former member of the Palestinian National Council and expert on Palestinian refugee and demographic studies
The Israeli Law of Return, Dual Loyalty, and the Status of Jewish Communities Outside Israel
5. Dr. Mustafa Abu Sway, Director, Islamic Research Centre, Al Quds University, Jerusalem
Religion and the Promise of Redemption in the Israeli Law of Return
6. Dr. Asad Abdur Rahman, Executive member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and former head of the Organisations Refugee Bureau.
The Role of the Jewish National Agency in Implementing the Israeli Law of Return
7. Prof. Abdul Wahab al Maseeri, Professor of English Literature, University of Ayn Shams, Egypt. Author of the Encyclopaedia on The Jews, Judaism and Zionism
The Jewish People Concept and its Impact on the Implementation of the Law of Return
8. Dr. Shafic Al Masri, Professor of international law at the American University, Beirut and Lebanese American University
International Law and the Israeli Law of Return
9. Dr. Magdy Hammad, Lebanese based researcher and specialist on South African apartheid
A Comparative Study of South African Apartheid and Israel Zionism
10. Dr. Jaafar Hadi Hasan, Director of Arabic Studies Centre, UK. Has written extensively on Jewish affairs.
The Israeli Law of Return and its Impact on Relations inside the Jewish State
11. Prof. George Jabour, Aleppo University, Syria, and former advisor to the President of Syria and pioneer in the studies of settler colonialism
The Future of Israel According to the Science of Settler Colonialism
12. Dr. Rasim Khamaisi, Urban Planner, Department of Geography, Haifa University, Haifa.
The Distribution of Jewish Immigrants in Palestine Before and after the Establishment of the State of Israel
13. Mr. Suhayl Meyari, Executive Member of the Council for Internally Displaced Palestinians, Nazareth
The Impact of the Israeli Law of Return: a Case Study of the internally Displaced Palestinians
14. Mr. Souheil Al-Natour, member of the Union of Palestinian Lawyers and Union of Palestinian Authors and Journalists
Palestinian Official Response to the Israeli Law of Return
15. Dr. Abdul Husayn Shabaan, Chairman of the Arab Human Rights Organisation. Has written several articles on the subject.
Western Policies and the United Nations Toward Israeli Racism & the Law of Return
16. Mr. Munir Shafiq, Palestinian thinker and former Director of the PLOs Palestinian Research Centre. Has written extensively on Palestinian and Arab affairs.
The status of Palestinian return and Israeli immigration laws in the Palestinian Struggle
17. Dr. Said Zeedani, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Al Quds University
The Law of Return and Ethnic Politics in Israel: Implications for the Different Ethnic Groups
The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) is a Palestinian establishment that is primarily concerned with the problem of the dispersed Palestinians and their struggle to return to their homes. It is, in nature, an academic and media institution that aspires to serve as an information repository and forum of political activity on the Palestinian question and the issue of the return in particular.
Four Britons and a Japanese student from Bradford university suffered shrapnel wounds on Monday after Israeli tanks fired warning shots near a demonstration by some 200 international peace volunteers of the International Solidarity Movement in a Bethlehem suburb, The Guardian reports.
The injured victims described their shock and panic by mobile phone from the town's King Hussein hospital, where one is still being treated for a serious stomach wound.
One of the participants, Aisa Kiyosue of the Department of Peace Studies at Bradford University, said: "I was in a panic when it happened. A soldier seemed to shoot at the ground and then I felt these things hit my leg. It started bleeding and it's bruised and very swollen. They did an X-ray here and gave me an injection. I'm going back to the hotel but I still want to stay out here for another week, 'till my holiday ends."
Prior to this, Aisa had sent the following despatches by email:
Despatch 1: March 29
Hello! This is Aisa. The IDF (Israel Defence Force) decided to extend their operation. It means that they will continue war, and terrorise Palestinians. Actually the IDF has already invaded Ramallah which is a political capital for Palestinians. The International Solidarity Movement decided to get there from Bethlehem. However, checkpoints to get to Ramallah were closed, and we were not able to go there to protest against the IDF. I heard that some peace activists from Italy and US managed to get there to do some activities against the IDF. We will try again tomorrow. Some of the ISM activists might get on Palestinians' ambulances so that they can reach to injured people. The IDF has stopped the Palestinian ambulances so far. Injured Palestinians really need to be sent to the hospitals. I might get into the ambulances tomorrow. Instead of visiting Ramallah, we visited one of refugee camps in Bethlehem for solidarity this afternoon. Italian activists were singing movement songs while we were marching there. Very active!!
The weather here is very icy.
I have to go now. I will keep informing you about the activities.
Best wishes Aisa
Despatch 2: March 29
Dear Friends, This is Aisa again. I am writing this email from the Alternative Information Centre, Bethlehem. It is about 11pm (Palestine time). It seems that attack against Palestinians by the Israeli Defence Force started in Bethlehem area (not in the centre yet) a couple of minutes ago. I heard bombing sounds. We do not know whether the IDF will invade the city centre tonight or not. They might do. In this case soldiers will come with tanks and fighters also might come here. However, the current situation should be better than Ramallah (you can see the situation in Ramallah on TV...). They might do the same thing to Bethlehem areas tomorrow. The situation in Palestine is very critical. Anyway, we (the International Solidarity Movement) will try to visit Ramallah tomorrow to protest against the IDF. If not, then maybe we will have monitoring activities around checkpoints.
This morning we had non-violent direct action training at the Bethlehem Star Hotel where we were staying. We have to be very calm and patient when we have some activities against the IDF or Settlers. I think that having dialogue or some sorts of communications (not arguments!) with the IDF soldiers and settlers is very important if we want to tell our messages to them.
Friends, take care! Aisa from Bethlehem
Despatch 3: March 31
Hello! This is Aisa. Last night I wrote the third diary at an internet cafe (Beit Sahour), but I was not able to it to you because the phone was disconnected suddenly. Maybe because the phone line comes to this area from Ramallah... Afterwards, I went back to my hotel in Bethlehem. Just after arriving at the hotel, I heard big shooting sounds and bombs (small bombs) near the hotel. I was just opening the car door, so I immediately jumped into the car again. The bullets and bombs surely punched to the close buildings from our hotel. I started to cry... My Palestinian friend said to me that this was his ordinary daily life.
Yesterday, we organised a demonstration towards one of checkpoints in Bethlehem areas called Beit Jala. Firstly two tanks were there. We marched towards the tanks, saying "stop occupation", "free Palestine". Italian activists were singing a sort of resistance song (chao, chao, chao something. Maybe some of you have heard the song before, I guess). They are so active. A soldier on the tank threw a percussion grenade towards us to threaten. Silly Aisa was thinking that he was drinking just orange juice, because the grenade was orange colour! Then I noticed that it was not ORANGE JUICE but a percussion grenade. After that, he shot towards sky to threaten us. Some soldiers came out from one of the tanks and started to point their guns at us. We continued protesting against them, saying "stop occupation", "free Palestine" and showing posters written in Arabic, English, Japanese, German, Swedish and Italian. I think that non-violent direct action training worked in this sense. The ISM activists were very calm. At night most of the ISM activists stayed in refugee camps so that we could protest against the IDF if they started invading the refugee camps. Fortunately they did not come to the refugee camps last night. The ISM activists seemed to have good time with residents in the camps. We will do the same activity tonight. Some tanks and APCs are already in Bethlehem now. They might attack the town and camps tonight. Tonight will be very critical day for people in Bethlehem.
I have to go now. I will keep informing about activities to you.
Take care! Love Aisa
Eyewitness accounts of the Israeli invasion are pouring in from Ramallah and Bethlehem every day. The following reports and testimonies are some of those being circulated on listservs and indymedia sites.
April 2, 2002
From the Palestine Indymedia Centre
Update from peace activists inside the presidential compound:
The presidential compound in Ramallah is currently being fired upon. We still have 34 foreign peace activists inside. There is a dire shortage of food and no water. They urgently need medical supplies.
Palestinian doctors were forced to dig a mass grave in the parking lot of the Ramallah hospital today to bury 25 of the dead bodies that have been retrieved over the past 4 days. Though it is difficult to get an accurate count of the dead due to the Israeli military preventing medical workers from operating, doctors were forced to make room in the hospital morgue. We have been unable to bury the dead properly due to the Israeli siege and their open shoot policy.
A 55-year old woman by the name of Widad Majed Nimr Safwan was shot dead by Israeli snipers as she left the Ramallah hospital this morning where she came for treatment of her broken leg. Widad left the Shiekh Khaled bin Zayed hospital at approximately 11 am this morning, to have her dead body carried back by an Italian peace worker at 11:15 am. Snipers shot Widad in the cheek and back of the neck.
PLEASE keep up the pressure on your respective governments. We really need help here...
Send Help Now
As members of the international civilian peace force on the ground in the besieged Palestinian towns of Ramallah and Bethlehem, we are sending out an urgent call for help.
First of all we'd like to confirm that there are 34 foreign civilians still inside the Presidential compound, under siege by Israeli forces. They are 27 French, 2 Germans, 1 British, 1 Belgian, 1 Brazilian, 1 Israeli/Canadian and 1 Irish. They have been in there since Sunday, March 31, 2002. They are reporting to us a severe shortage of food, no water and a desperate need for medical supplies. We have repeatedly attempted to deliver food, water and medicine via a Red Crescent ambulance but the Israeli military is not allowing the aid through.
The foreign peace activists inside the compound are calling for immediate international intervention. They have issued an urgent call to their respective ambassadors. In addition to the ambassadors, we are calling upon UN Secretary General Kofi Anan, EU Foreign Minister Javier Solana, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, General Anthony Zinni, and EU Special Envoy Miguel Moratinos to come immediately to Ramallah and intervene to stop the Israeli assault on all Palestinian cities and people.
Up until now unarmed foreign civilians have been doing the work that our governments and the international community should be doing and MUST START DOING NOW. We have now also become purposeful targets of the Israeli military. Yesterday Israeli soldiers opened fire on a large group foreign peace activists in Beit Jala, wounding six (2 Americans, 3 British and 1 Australian). Now international peace activists are in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, the Dhaishe refugee camp, Aida refugee camp, and Azza refugee camp, serving as human shields to protect the Palestinian people. The Israeli government has declared martial law in Ramallah and Bethlehem and has ordered all of us out. We refuse to leave. Some of us have already been arrested and deported for our solidarity work with the Palestinian people.
We need help NOW. The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross are being prevented from working inside the besieged Palestinian towns. The Palestinian Red Crescent society and aid workers are being detained by Israeli forces and their ambulances are denied passage to deliver humanitarian aid and to pick up wounded and the dead. Ambulances are also being shot at and medics and doctors forced to sit on their knees at gunpoint in the streets.
We appeal to the world not to remain silent and to come to the Occupied Palestinian Territories to help protect the Palestinian people. WE are witnessing war crimes and must work to stop this! We will continue our attempts to help the Palestinian people, despite the danger on our lives. The United Nations and our respective governments must intervene now, decisively and unconditionally.
WE NEED HELP! SEND HELP NOW! PLEASE.
Update from LAW, The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment.
Israeli forces continue assault on Palestinian civilians, medical personnel and journalists
For the fifth consecutive day Israeli war against all Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories continues. The situation on the ground is deteriorating by the minute. Despite repeated calls for international intervention, the international community continues to give Israeli forces a green light to commit further grave breaches of international humanitarian law, war crimes, and other violations of human rights. Paramedics, journalists and human rights defenders face difficulty in performing their jobs due to Israeli assaults on any moving object and various restrictions. Israeli forces continue assaults on residents in Ramallah, El-Bireh, Beit Jala, Bethlehem, Tulkarem and Qalqiliya. Israeli forces are reinforced to enter Nablus, Jenin and Hebron. At this moment, Ramallah is facing a humanitarian crisis, lacking water, food, and medicines.
Israeli forces continue to prevent paramedics from evacuating the injured and in many cases the injured are left in the streets. Israeli soldiers have confiscated ambulances belonging to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees as well as public medical institutions and used them in house-to-house raids and assaults on Palestinian civilians.
Hours ago, Israeli tanks shelled St. Mary Church in Bethlehem, killing Father Jack (54) and injuring five sisters.
Last night, Israeli forces started shelling the headquarters of the Palestinian Preventive Security Forces in Betunia, southwest of Ramallah. Eyewitnesses stated to LAW that Israeli forces use Palestinian civilians as human shields in the raid. The headquarters, currently, has approximately four hundred persons inside, including staff, detainees and families. Dozens have been killed and injured, however, Israeli forces prevent ambulances from reaching the injured and evacuate bodies.
The total number of Palestinians killed is yet unknown. Sources at Ramallah hospital have reported that twenty-five dead bodies have so far been brought to the hospital, awaiting burial. The sources also warned of a humanitarian, health and environmental disaster due to Israeli forces preventing the burial of killed persons. The mortuary of the hospital does not have more capacity.
Today, when Widad Hamad Safran (45) from Kadoura refugee camp went to Ramallah hospital to have a cask removed from her previously broken leg, she was shot and killed twenty meters from the hospital by Israeli snipers who have been positioned in al-Ramouni building. A bullet hit her shoulder and entered her heart. Israeli soldiers prevented Italian observers from providing aid. Israeli soldiers have occupied the building since yesterday. The building hosts the Union of Medical Relief Committees, the Mandela Institute, and some residential apartments. Yesterday, Israeli forces entered the office of the human rights organisation al-Haq and the Health Development Information and Policy Institute.
An eye-witness, Marleen Anqous, who lives in the Ramouni building, saw the Israeli soldiers evacuating women and children from the building to Undsam restaurant, which is located opposite the building and the men were brought to al-Odeh Hotel. The eye-witness told LAW that she saw an explosion on the second floor of the building. Another eye-witness, Amin Anabi, saw Israeli soldiers arresting Dr. Muhammad Iskafi, from the Medical Relief Committees, who was previously arrested on Saturday, March 30, and have used the doctor as a human shield to enter another building.
Leila Hussain Aruri, from Ramallah, who suffers from diabetes, yesterday, received insulin from a paramedic. However, since there has been no electricity in her home, she could not take the medication. She lost her conscience and if she doesn't receive medication in time, she will die.
This morning, at 11.00, Andre Durand, a journalist who works for Agence France Press, together with 'Ata Awisat who is a reporter for Gama News, were stopped by Israeli soldiers in Beitunia. After two hours they released the French journalist. 'Ata Awisat is still being held. Yesterday, Abas al-Moumani, a photojournalist, who works for Agence France Presse, was driving his car, which has been clearly marked with "TV", at Manari, the main square in the centre of Ramallah. Israeli soldiers opened fire at his car and a live bullet hit the mirror inside the car. The driver was not hurt. The car was stopped and Israeli soldiers confiscated Moumani's camera. They forced him to put his hands behind his head and left him standing for three hours, after which they returned his camera and ordered him to leave the area.
LAW The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment has repeatedly called for international protection and intervention. If states fail to take immediate actions, these states facilitate, if not encourage, Israel's ongoing violations of international law, including war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
The international community, in particular, the European Union, must now take effective and concrete action, in accordance with its legal obligations under international humanitarian law, to ensure that Israel's military offensive against Palestinian civilians is halted immediately and that those responsible for the perpetration of war crimes, and other gross violations of international law, are sought and prosecuted in accordance with international law. Clearly, sporadic condemnations by various states of individual violations of international law are wholly insufficient, and clearly increasingly ineffective. As Israel continues to ignore the criticisms and calls of the international community, including the European Union, clearly effective pressure must be applied, and actions must be taken and taken immediately.
LAW The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to preserving human rights through legal advocacy. LAW is affiliate to the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Federation Internationale des Ligues de Droits de l'Homme (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).
From the Palestinian Counselling Centre (PCC) Hotline
The PCC, located in Jerusalem, issued hotline numbers in an effort to provide counselling to individuals and families under attack in various Palestinian cities. 22 staff and 30 volunteers are set up in 3 shifts working around the clock. They are having a difficult time dealing with the load of calls and the catastrophic conditions being reported in by Palestinians across the West Bank.
Four telephone lines and fax line ring non-stop: we have no bread; I need milk for my two month old baby; I need medicine because I have diabetes; I need medicine for my high blood pressure; I'm scared I'm alone trapped in a restaurant in Ramallah and the Israeli snipers are on the rooftop of the building I'm in; I don't know what to do my children are scared; I'm a doctor there are 38 apartments in the building I work in and the families here need bread, water, milk I also need medicine to treat some of the people here I need antibiotics, velum, I need aspirin for children and adults I also have a pregnant woman here if I don't get her to a hospital I will have to deliver the baby here. And the calls go on and on mainly the need for basic food necessities, medicine and guidance counselling. The staff have been working for 72 hours non-stop shifts to answer phone calls and provide assistance also through the radio and television stations that are still under Palestinian control.
The telephone lines ring again the nineteen-year-old who is stuck in the restaurant where Israeli snipers are on the rooftop of the building in Ramallah. He says he has access to food and even to television but he's scared he is isolated what should he do. We give him advice stay inside, take long and deep breaths, keep the volume for the television low so you stay safe. The phone rings again his name is Malek. He is still scared he can't breath he hears the soldiers outside he is originally from Jericho but can't get home. I'm isolated. I'm scared. I have contacted my family in Jericho and I'm still scared. Try to contact your neighbours in the same building and talk to them it may comfort you. Take deep breaths, move around and turn off the TV, think happy things about your family in Jericho. Think happy things you will go home to your family soon in Jericho. Malek was still sacred and decided to go upstairs to his neighbours apartment. He never made it. Think happy thoughts you will see your family soon. They will meet you at the entrance of the city in your casket. Think happy things Malek. We know that you were scared but we did not expect you to be shot in cold blood as you were leaving to your neighbours house because you were scared your words were supported by the fear in your voice. We still have the notes we took from your calls. I'm alone in a restaurant I'm 19 and I'm alone I don't need food but I'm scared. I'm scared, I feel isolated. I contacted my family. I'm scared.
Malek never made it to his neighbours house. He did not know them but he needed support as he told our psychologists who talked to him several times over two days. He was scared and isolated. He needed to hear people's voices and to see movement around him. Malek was scared as he left the restaurant taking a courageous step to go by his neighbours and when an Israeli soldier maybe also 19 years old decided to take the fear away from Malek by taking away his life. Malek did not call today and the psychologists who spoke to him are feeling down did we give him the right advice he was really scared? Why did he leave? He must have begun to get really terrified of being alone. Malek's body lay for a few hours in the streets of Ramallah while paramedics were prevented from providing him with medical assistance.
Many Maleks called us today. There are three of us trapped in an apartment building. We are alone. We have not eaten in three days. We fear for our lives the Israeli soldiers have surrounded the building we are in. I have 38 families in the building they are scared but they also have no bread, milk or water. Many families have small children. We don't need to eat. Just some food for the children.
April 1, 2002
From the Palestine Indymedia Centre
Like all other Palestinians in Ramallah, Ashraf, 25, is imprisoned in his home. Ramallah has been declared a "closed military area" and there is an Israeli tank outside his door. Israeli soldiers have been ordered to shoot-to-kill anyone on the streets. Here's what he had to say on the phone from Ramallah today.
It has been 4 days since [the Israelis] invaded Ramallah. They started entering on Friday morning around 4 am and it was really like a war. All that you could hear was shaking from the sound of the tanks and helicopters. You thought at the beginning that it was the start of the war. Clashes started. What do you expect? They were entering with tanks, so there was some resistance, but with kalashnikovs, light weapons.
There was so much bombing.
Of course, we have had so many sleepless nights but this was the worst, actually, worse than the ones before. The people were really surprised this time because they started entering all the homes and shooting at anything even cats on the streets. The sound of tank bombing was unbelievable. And they demolished something to do with the electricity so there was no electricity and we couldn't follow the news so we didn't know what was going on.
They started by destroying the Muqataa' [Arafat's Presidential Compound] where Arafat is. So many were injured and killed.
The next morning they started their mission: "fighting terrorism."
We woke up again with the sounds of the tanks.
The Israelis entered neighbourhood by neighbourhood, calling men from 15-40 to go outside.
There were 6 tanks in my neighbourhood. They crashed through 6 cars, they didn't have to, there was space for their tanks to go past, but they destroyed the cars anyway. They entered my neighbours house with their dogs.
In many places they arrested people. They have been entering buildings where there are students, young people. Many Birzeit [University] students living in Ramallah were arrested. They are still arresting people; 500 people have been detained so far.
It's never silent for more than half an hour at a time. Today was the worst. Near our home a shopping centre was almost demolished. They stopped a few meters away from the building and started shelling it from their tanks. They fired more than 12 missiles from a few meters away. Really, it was terrible.
The worst thing is that so many people are living without electricity or water. And the food is finishing. It will be really serious if this continues. Some people are injured, and some are just ill and they need to get to hospital and get treatment. But the Israelis don't let any ambulances get though to help people.
Yesterday, 5 policemen were just sitting in their place and the Israelis shot them. It was so clear there was no resistance. All the blood was on the floor, not high on the walls. It was clear they were sitting on the floor when they were killed. They showed it on TV. All of them were shot in the head when they were sitting on the floor.
The Israelis entered all the big buildings here with their tanks. But there are so many normal shops in the buildings; normal shops selling cell phones, clothes, computers and other things. They stole things from the shops, computers ... so many things. They also stole computers from students and turned their homes upside down.
There are a couple things more I would like to say.
The world is seeing what is happening. History is repeating itself. It's a fascist world. This is fascism, how they [the Israeli soldiers] are dealing with people, detaining them in big schools and interrogating each one, writing numbers on them.
And the shocking thing is this silence about what they are doing.
These Israeli operations are targeting innocent civilians. People are terrified. The Israeli soldiers are shooting everything. Life here has totally stopped; it's dead.
This is terrorism against civilians. It is organised terrorism by the state and this is even more dangerous than a bunch of people who do things on their own. This is an organised war against a whole people who have no weapons to resist tanks, and helicopters and F16s.
The West always asks about [Palestinian] attacks against civilians. But they must ask what is the cause of these attacks: the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people, which creates so much anger amongst people. Like at the checkpoints, for example. Every day we have to walk 20 minutes and more across the Israeli checkpoint to reach the University. It takes more than an hour to get through and they sometimes arrest people. Even to get to Al Ram not even Jerusalem we have to go through the checkpoints.
This is all about civilians. It's all about humiliation, about punishing a whole people. This is terrorism.
The second thing I think is very important is the official reaction of the Arab regimes which is very disappointing this is not new, but it's especially disappointing now when the whole situation has reached a point where everything has been demolished. There were thousands of people in Jordan and Egypt and in other places and they were faced with the Central Security dealing with them as if they are terrorists. They started shooting gas at the students in Amman not letting them demonstrate.
This might not be important for the West, but ...
Also, the Western media is totally biased. There is so much rage and anger here, especially at the last speech by Bush. The Israelis are fighting the Palestinian people, not terrorism. The whole Palestinian nation is imprisoned. What do they expect? This [Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians] will happen, whether we are with it or against it. What do they expect for people living in poverty, in a hopeless situation and with this daily humiliation that everyone feels. Everyone feels so angry about it every day.
And now they are talking about civilians. Until when do the Palestinians have to face all this? I don't understand it when they talk of the two sides having to stop the violence. When they say that they don't distinguish between the criminal and the victim.
One of the top 10 armies in the world is invading a civilian city. People here are helpless, they feel like this situation will never end. They are seeing soldiers with all kinds of weapons entering their homes, doing what ever they like. A few days more and people will have nothing to eat. And people are talking about violence between two sides!
I want to add something else.
We don't have a problem with Jewish people. We don't claim that the solution is to throw them into the sea. No. The solution is to live together. We are for a solution to the problem of anti-semitism. But this, what is happening to us here, is not a solution. This is a solution that kicks Palestinians from their houses. They will never find a solution this way because this is not just. We are human beings too.
It has been 53 years since the Nakba [Palestinian Catastrophe]. And now the Israelis elected Sharon, they thought he could bring them security. But if the Israelis thought that by using violence they could shut up the Palestinians they are wrong.
When Israeli society reaches a point when it wants to live with the Palestinians, not as slaves but as equals, then we can live together.
At the end what are they going to do? Are they going to kill the whole Palestinian nation? There are so many examples like Sharon in history and they have always been defeated.
These circumstances now, where people are living under extremely difficult circumstances, it will never lead to anything ...
April 1, 2002
This letter by Israeli human rights activist and writer Neve Gordon was published in the weekly Jerusalem newspaper Kol Ha'Ir. Neve Gordon teaches in the department of politics and government at Ben-Gurion University in Israel.
To: Colonel Aviv Kohavi
Brigade Commander of the Israeli Paratroopers
I presume you remember me. In any event, I remember you. We first met in the paratrooper brigade. I was a platoon sergeant in the corporals company; you were a young platoon officer. Even then friends of mine who were serving with you in the same post in Lebanon related that you were a sensible, serious, and above all decent officer.
The better part of our acquaintance occurred, though, at Hebrew University. We were studying towards our BA in Philosophy you in preparation for a career in the military, I as a human rights activist. During that period we had more than one political discussion. I couldn't help but admire you. I found you to be a thinking person, imaginative, and judicious quite different from the typical army officer that one meets at the university, one who registers merely to snatch a degree and to run off. Looking back, I believe that you really enjoyed your studies, a number of which, it should be noted, dealt with ethical theory.
Years have passed since we last met. You became the paratroopers' brigade commander, I a lecturer in the department of politics and government at Ben Gurion University. On Thursday, March 1, 2002, I once again saw you, not face to face, but on television. You were on the news programme: the commander of the troops that entered Balata refugee camp, near Nablus. You solemnly explained that at that very moment your soldiers were transmitting a forceful message to the Palestinian terrorists: the Israeli army will hunt them down in every nook and cranny.
In the days after the interview, news began to trickle about what took place in the camp. Prior to the incursion the Israeli military reigned terror on the inhabitants employing helicopters and tanks. Then, Aviv, you imposed a curfew on the camp, blew up the electric transmission lines, cutting off electricity to 20,000 civilian inhabitants; bulldozers ruined the water supply pipelines. Your soldiers, Aviv, then moved from house to house by smashing holes in the interior walls; they destroyed furniture and other property, and riddled bullets in water tanks on rooftops. The soldiers spread terror on the inhabitants, most of whom were women, elderly, and children.
But that wasn't all. I learned that your soldiers also used inhabitants as human shields. Also, in the first few hours of the incursion the Palestinians had 120 wounded, and that you, Aviv, refused to allow ambulances to enter and leave the camp.
There were, of course, several battles in the camp during the incursion. Two Palestinians and one of your soldiers were killed. You also reported that you confiscated weapons and that your operation prevented future terrorist acts from happening. But you totally ignored the connection between Israeli military violence perpetrated in the Occupied Territories and Palestinian violence in Israel, as if the incursions into the camps and the reign of terror that you and your soldiers imposed do not drive Israel/Palestine into a blood bath from which none can escape.
How, Aviv, do you think that your incursion affected the children whom you locked up for hours with other members of their families, while you searched their house and blasted holes through their walls? Did your incursion contribute a smithereen to peace, or did it instead spread seeds of hatred, despondence, and death in the crowded, poverty stricken, hopeless refugee camp?
I have not stopped thinking about you since that television interview, trying to understand what was going on in your mind. What caused you to lead your soldiers soldiers of the paratrooper brigade to a war against a civilian population?
Aviv, I am presently teaching a course entitled "The Politics of Human Rights". One of the topics I discuss during the semester is the intifada and its lessons with respect to human rights. From the standpoint of international conventions, at least, your acts in Balata constitute blatant violations of human rights. Such acts are, in fact, war crimes.
Aviv, what happened to the sensible and judicious officer? How did you become a war criminal?
Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Germany over Easter against the Israeli Zionist regime's latest military crackdown in the Palestinian-controlled territories, the German press said on Tuesday.
Several major German cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Nuremberg became the scene of anti-Israel protests, as demonstrators called for Israels complete military withdrawal.
In Berlin, more than 7,000 people marched peacefully through the government district of Mitte, chanting anti-Israeli and anti-US slogans. Demonstrators, carrying flags and pictures of Palestinian martyrs, march past the heavily guarded US embassy. Meanwhile in Hamburg, some 5,000 people took to the streets on Sunday, to protest against the Israeli repression in the occupied territories and US support for the Zionist regime. Several thousand people rallied in Frankfurt, urging an end to the repressive Israeli military tactics in Ramallah. More anti-Israel demonstrations are planned for the coming weeks.
During celebrations in Cuba of the 26th anniversary of Palestinian "Land Day" on March 30, the Palestinian ambassador to Cuba, Imad Jadad, affirmed that the Palestinian people will continue to resist the constant Israeli aggression until they achieve their legitimate rights. The ambassador said that he was proud of Palestinian resistance against Tel Avivs military machinery, supplied by US.
Imad Jadad recalled the current situation, especially Israeli military operations against the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank City of Ramallah, where Yasser Arafat has been blockaded for four months.
Also speaking at the celebrations was Cuban-Arab Friendship Association President Rodrigo Alvares Cambra, who called the aggression of Ariel Sharons government against Arafat "incredible and dangerous".
Dozens of Israeli tanks and soldiers destroyed fences, yards, and walls, entered the buildings with impunity while they indiscriminately opened fire, he added.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, speaking at a commemoration in Dublin on March 31 to mark the 86th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, said that Irish unity must cease to be an abstraction and become a concrete proposition.
Gerry Adams said, "In recent years we have seen the repeal of the Government of Ireland Act, the creation of all Ireland institutions, some progress on the issue of northern representation in the Oireachtas and the removal of the unionist veto. And while all of this represents progress there is still much to be done."
He said that Republicans have always pointed out the obstacle to Irish unity posed by Britain, and that has not evaporated. Commenting that this is not the only block to unity, he advocated that the Dublin government publish a Green Paper on the concept of unity.
Gerry Adams went on, "What Sinn Féin is about and what we have been doing in recent months is setting out our roadmap to Irish unity and we believe that others should do the same. The primary objective at this time has to be to sustain the peace process and to build the political process and the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Féin is wedded to this. But we continue to work for an end of the union. So Irish unity must cease to be an abstraction and become a concrete proposition.
"Here, today, I am formally calling on all of the parties to embark on a process of drawing up a Green Paper on Irish Unity in consultation with all interested parties and groups. Sinn Féin will naturally make a careful and studied input to such a process. But we also think that an Alliance for Irish Unity is needed which will draw upon all persons and organisations who are committed to that end.
"Ireland is moving towards Irish unity. The historical tide cannot be wished back. But as I have indicated previously, and reiterate now, republicans do not want unionists to be politically drowned in a sea of nationalism. We, in the original spirit of Tone, want them to be accommodated, to be included to belong. We do not want them to be strangers in their own land, in our own land. Our Ireland is a shared Ireland, an inclusive Ireland.
"We want to engage now on the shape, form and nature that this will take. We want to quietly, persuasively and as friends and neighbours persuade unionists that they should not be afraid of taking a leap of imagination. Unionists should be prepared to put forward their vision for the future and to consider, discuss and engage with nationalists and republicans about the nature and form a new united Ireland will take.
"There is much work to do. And together we can make further progress and truly transform society on this island forever."
IRA: Easter Message 2002
Following is the full text of the IRA Easter Message.
On this, the 86th anniversary of the Rising of Easter 1916, the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann extend our solidarity to our Volunteers and their families and to our supporters at home and abroad. We also extend fraternal greetings to imprisoned comrades and to their families.
Easter is the day set aside by republicans to honour our dead. Today we remember our fallen comrades who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom. We extend our solidarity to their families and we pay tribute to the dignified manner in which they carried their loss.
This Easter sees the initiation of the Roll of Remembrance, which will serve as a testimony to the many republicans, Volunteers and activists who have given lifelong and dedicated service to the Republic.
The IRA leadership would like to thank all of those who have organised Tírghrá, the national tribute to our fallen comrades. It is fitting that the families be honoured in this unique way.
The leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann reaffirm our commitment to our republican objectives. We seek the establishment of an Irish republic as outlined in the Proclamation of 1916. We reaffirm our commitment to the achievement of a just and lasting peace.
Since Easter last year, Sinn Féin has increased its electoral mandate in the Six Counties to unprecedented levels of popular support. The army recognises that there is the potential to replicate this progress in the coming months in the 26 Counties. It is the duty of all republicans and nationalists to support this project. More and more people understand and embrace the republican analysis. Their voice and their demand for the reunification of Ireland grows stronger by the day.
As Irish republicans, the leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann believe that the unity of our country and its people is the only way to secure justice and to 'cherish all the children of the nation equally'.
Since 1994, the IRA leadership has demonstrated the necessary commitment to ensure that a lasting and durable peace settlement can be found. We commend the discipline and integrity shown by our Volunteers and support base who, irrespective of the many and often politically manufactured difficulties which we have encountered in those intervening years, have remained strong and united.
However, the securing of a democratic peace settlement is not solely a task for republicans and we are mindful of the primary obligation of the British government and of the unionist leadership. The Irish government too has its responsibility.
The leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann will not be deflected from our historic task and we pledge that our work will continue until we have achieved a democratic socialist Republic.
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