"The Unbearable Stench Of Death” - Jenin
”The Unbearable Stench Of Death” – Red Cross In
First published on
By Selwyn Manning.
Red Cross workers and
independent journalists tonight speak of the horrific
destruction of Jenin refugee camp: the unbearable stench of
death, continuous sounds of explosions and lack of food and
water – this is the result of Israel’s tour of duty:
Operation Defensive Shield.
One of the first outsiders
to get inside Jenin camp was Independent journalist Kev
Skvorak. He writes: “We entered Jenin camp on the morning of
the 14th. It was and still is a closed zone, but we didn’t
ask permission to go in, and the few soldiers that saw us,
did not intervene. The lower portion of the camp appears to
be almost completely deserted, except for some wandering
chickens and goats, and it looks like every house has been
damaged in some way by fire, or tank, or rockets... but most
are still standing.
The destruction in the centre
of the camp though is total…a huge area that is nothing but
rubble in what was once the densest, most populous, and
poorest area of the camp…it was also the area of the
strongest resistance in the camp. Estimates from inside the
camp varied between 250 – 350 homes demolished, or 450 to
600 families, or something 2000 people with no home at all.
”The soldiers were working on this area with heavy
equipment for over a week, demolishing the houses, digging a
huge trench, and filling it with debris… This is the area
where the horrible stories of people having their houses
pushed down on top of them were. We heard theses stories as
well from people who had escaped, many who had lost children
or other family in the attacks. Some people said they were
given a warning and time to flee, others heard no such
warning and just found the house collapsing around them as
they hid in what they thought was the safest room of the
house…most often the one nearest the bottom with no window
or escape route.
”None knows the number of dead
buried under the debris, but at this point it would take an
sifting operation something similar in technique to the
efforts at the world trade center to collect all of the
bodies and body parts… everything that is under there has
been crushed to small pieces by the 70 ton Macerva tanks.
Total numbers of dead inside the camp range from 200 to 500.
No one really has any realistic idea yet and no one here
knows how many where removed by the Israelis, but witnesses
in the camp saw at least two large refrigerated semi
trailers in the camp, and the UN aid people here maintain it
is a relatively open secret that the Israelis maintain an
“enemies” graveyard in the Jordan valley for events like
Skvorak writes: "We were taken to photograph many more
martyrs today..I unfortunately even stepped on/in one. Lot’s
of body parts, and crushed laying around... a foot, or a
hand mioghtbe recognizable, but mostly the people are
recognized by the damp and discolored clothes sticking out
of the ground..mostly connected to just bit’s of tissue and
bone. Difficult to photograph."
The Red Cross also
gives an eyewitness account:"We were allowed into a very
small section of the camp,” Khaldoun Uweis of the Palestine
Red Crescent Society said. "This is unbelievable. At least
75 per cent of the camp has been destroyed, houses were
demolished turning alleys into wide streets to allow tanks
to roll through them."
The Israeli Defense Force has
been in Jenin for 14 days. Some eyewitnesses report tonight
that the soldiers are slowly preparing to move out.
Red Cross and other humanitarian organisations have
been trying to help wounded and bereft people for six days.
Medical teams were escorted in on Tuesday [New Zealand time]
by the Israeli army into a small part of the camp. Movement
Speaking from inside Jenin Refugee
Camp, Amnesty International delegate Javier Zuniga said,
"This is one of the worst scenes of devastation I have ever
witnessed. It is almost impossible to conceive that what was
once a town is now a lunar landscape. There is a real
possibility that people are still alive under the rubble of
their former homes, one of our colleagues from a local human
rights organisation received a phone call from a family of
10 trapped below ground and asking for help, yet there is no
evidence of concerted efforts to search for and rescue
Red Cross is calling for international
search and rescue teams to be sent to the camp to help
remove bodies from bulldozed buildings and hunt for possible
survivors after residents reported hearing cries.
Many bodies cannot be pulled out of the rubble due to
risks of further structural collapse. "Many of the buildings
are not stable," Shene Dabrowski, a Canadian ICRC rescuer,
said on a phone to Red Cross headquarters: "We need
unexploded ordinance teams and urban search and rescue teams
to help us dig out bodies from under the rubble. We don't
have proper equipment. We don't even have helmets."
Dabrowski spoke of highly trained teams of experts
with the knowledge and expertise to deal with extreme danger
the collapsed and unstable buildings might pose to rescuers.
"Specialist rescue teams are needed here," he said.
Explosions could still be heard inside the camp. And
the army has restricted movement so severely that the teams
were able to see no more than a tiny part of the camp.
Judging from the extent of the structural damage I am
expecting to find many more dead under the rubble,"
The European Red Cross and Red
Crescent Conference from Berlin issued a statement
expressing shock at "the horrific consequences of the
present conflict on the civilian population."
described the repeated attacks against relief workers,
hospitals, buildings or vehicles carrying out humanitarian
work as "flagrant violations of International Humanitarian
Law" and expressed profound concern regarding "blockades
that prevent humanitarian workers from reaching those in
need of assistance."
Israeli Defense Minister
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said troops would leave the cities of
Nablus, Jenin and parts of Ramallah by Sunday but would
remain around Arafat's compound and the Church of the
Nativity until a standoff with militants was resolved.
"It should be clear that we will not be able to leave
the area of Bethlehem and the Mukata (Arafat's Ramallah
compound) where there are terrorists being hidden until the
terrorists are handed over to us," Ben-Eliezer told Israel
At least 1,278 Palestinians and 452 Israelis
have been killed since Palestinians rose up against Israeli
occupation in much of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in
September 2000 after negotiations on a final peace treaty
International aid agencies have been
urgently demanding more access to Jenin refugee camp, many
of whose 13,000 residents lost their homes to Israeli tanks
The camp suffered heavy casualties
that included 23 Israeli dead and many more Palestinians,
some of whom may be under mountains of rubble in the
levelled main square. Red Cross’ Dr. Hossam Sharkawi, said:
"The situation is very hazardous, bodies are strewn around,
some already decomposing." Dabrowski added: “The situation
continues to unfold. No one knows exactly the extent of the
death and the destruction in the camp. First
published on Spectator.co.nz…By Selwyn Manning.
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