West Bank And Gaza, 22-26 April 2002
From Kristen Schurr
Jenin Refugee Camp is in ruins. Hearing Powell say that there is no evidence of a massacre seems a cruel joke. Palestinians search for body parts of family members, trying to avoid the undetonated Israeli explosives that litter the camp, under rubble that was once a home.
Sharon is forbidding the UN Fact Finding Commission to enter the camp, where he would like us to believe only 48 Palestinians were killed during 13 days of intense Apache missile fire, tank shelling, bulldozing, and terrorizing by Israeli soldiers.
Many Palestinian families were held hostage in small rooms without food, bathrooms, or proper drinking water by soldiers who occupied and destoyed their homes and mosques. Many other Palestinians were arrested and tortured, and those who were not permanently disappeared, were dumped near Salem checkpoint and detention center. Some unable to walk, beaten, bloodied, and burned with cigarettes, all without clothes.
The school in the Palestinian village of Taiba, which served as a refuge for the refugees, is a school again. I met many Palestinians who have returned to the camp in Jenin to dig their families from the ruins.
Sharon is going ahead with his plan to build an electric fence around the Israeli settlements in Jerusalem, and continues to illegally force Palestinians from their homes. He is also planning to move the Green Line eight miles, about which many Palestinians say is just another attempt to demoralize and control, but they will continue to resist with their spirits as they have since 1948.
The people of Gaza also continue to resist the Israeli occupation and the daily humilations and slow death that accompany it. A month long complete border closing has shut off the limited amount of freedom of movement that Palestinians living in Gaza once had.
The Gaza Strip is completely isolated from the West Bank, and is excrutiatingly populated with 1,250,000 Palestinians. Forty-two percent of the 360 square kilometers of the Gaza Strip is inhabited by Israeli settlers who are flanked by Israeli soldiers, green lawns, and swimming pools.
Yesterday four Palestinian boys were shot by Israeli settlers and a Palestinian girl was killed early this morning. The Gaza Strip is surrounded by Israeli soldiers and is set-up like a concentration camp. Palestinians cannot get in or out. Israeli soldiers have divided the 43 km Strip into three parts, making it impossible to pass from one end to the other, I am told, in under two days.
26 April, 2002 Gaza