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Reporting on people who dare to challenge


1) The Man in the Clothes Shop _ Chris Green 2) Just Like Christmas _ Drew Penland 3) From an Ambulance in Palestine_ Lisa Beth 4) Right to Education Petition from Bethlehem


1) The Man in the Clothes Shop That Dared To Be Open Date: February 10, 2003

Author: Chris Green Area: Tulkarem

A quick message-

I told you two days ago about the man who worked in the clothes shop, which dared to be a bit open during curfew and was shot in both legs. He was buried today. He was 21, about to be married, and had worked in the shop for a couple of weeks. The bullets went through steel shutters and through the windows before they hit him.

Today in the store besides the obvious pictures of bullet holes in doors, we also took pictures of jerseys still on the racks with holes in them and racks of jeans shot through. I went into the shop later in the day and tried to buy a shirt but the shop workers wanted to give it to me because of our help, so we end up leaving some money on the counter and hoping it's enough.

At the funeral an old man working in the Ministry of Health stopped to talk to me and gave me a portrait of his son- killed in March last year by an Apache helicopter in Ramallah.

Apart from that it was a quiet day in terms of trouble but everyone was expecting trouble so it wasn't a great shopping day for the equivalent of Christmas Eve. However, the shops were very busy, but everyone asks the price of everything. There was a power cut for the whole town this morning for about 4 hours- I don't know if it was imposed by the Israelis or not, but last night I past through a district of the Refugee Camp where the overhead cables had been cut- some of the tanks have special insulated cutting gear. I was due to go to Aziz's Mum's house for Zatta on home made bread so she was making it in a homemade oven in the back yard. Another family are making plans to build an oven so that they can bake bread when all the power is cut off when (if) the war starts and the Israelis impose an unlimited curfew. Yesterday I collected two stories from an ambulance driver of brutality against him. One was only last week, but they are too long to tell here.

Last night I collected 10 letters from local children wanting pen-friends two of them were written in English-Yousif Moosa Ibrahim writes "My ambitions: To be a doctor to treat the poor people in my camp, To see peace all over the world, and to see all my family together in one country. By friendship the world will be smaller"

I got some better feel of the smallness of the geography of this region yesterday when driving through it in the ambulance- I realised that all the places that I picked olives last year were all very close, even though it sometimes took ages to travel between them.

A lovely early evening in the Orphanage below our flat, dancing and reviewing our performance of "We are the Children of Palestine" which they love to sing. They drive people made with some noise making puppets we've bought, but they get a collection of presents from the ambulance drivers and local people. Tonight we are going to sleep in houses in the Camp just in case the military come in to spoil Eid

The checkpoints around the city have been very heavily applied today, to stop people traveling to visit their relatives-an important Eid tradition. As a present to the house I bought two plastic chairs two stools and another small table- Luxury- why did I do this two days before I leave?

Love Chris

=================

2) Just like Christmas February 10, 2003 Author: Drew Penland Area: Tulkarem

Today the feeling in Tulkarem is akin to Christmas in most of our countries. Or almost. The only difference is that soldiers in armored vehicles can enter your shop or mall at will and injure or murder with impunity. Let me tell you of one incident, of the many, from the last ten days. I think it will prove instructive about the present state of affairs in Occupied Palestine.

Two days back I and another ISM activist were watching one APC and border police jeep enforce curfew near the hospitals in the afternoon. They were announcing menacingly "curfew" over their loudspeaker and a few youths were throwing rocks from behind buildings without effect. After sitting at an intersection for a short time the armored vehicles headed down a hill to where they often head back to the Occupation forces base.

Just as we sought to catch our breath there was shouting from up the hill in the area of the hospital. It seemed more was yet to come. From around the corner at the hospital rolled a different APC and border police jeep. We stood at the side of the road and watched them come down the hill towards us.

The vehicles looked like they were from some absurd war fantasy for jingoists. Machine guns poked out of every window of both vehicles. Normally one or two machine guns are pointed at local Palestinians (and us) through windows but this time 5 or 6 guns protruded out of each vehicle and to me was a clear signal trouble was coming.

They rolled by and we waited for our companion who was pinned in at the hospital by herself. As the vehicles rolled by into the city center they picked up speed.

Just past us and at the edge of site I shuddered at three bursts of machine gun fire that came from the APC. I ran in the direction of the shooting and witnessed the vehicles rush off. Within seconds a man exited a shop and called in a shrill voice for an ambulance.

I was one of the first to the scene and rushed into the clothing store. A young man lay on the floor of the shop. He looked like a ghoulish yellow puppet with an extra joint in his legs. Both his femur bones in his legs were snapped by two bullets and blood was visibly spurting from one of his legs into a growing pool that surrounded him on the shop floor.

He was reaching with his hands into the air and in severe shock and excruciating pain, but conscious. All I could do was hold his hand. I had my camera and thought to photograph him and try to help, but I froze for a time. I just went rigid and held his hand and watched the crowd grow outside the store. As people started filtering into the store I took several steps towards the shop entrance and tried to stop people from entering. It seemed that the young man was in such an undignified state and I knew that too many people around him wouldn't help.

In a flash several paramedics, people who are true heroes of this struggle, rushed through the door and with some local help the injured man was lifted onto a bed. The ambulance was off within seconds back to Thabit-Thabit Hospital (Tulkarem).

Now, some details about the young man. His name is Muhammed. He is 21 and a university student who was hired at the shop for this holiday season to help out for this busy time. It was his third day at work. He was the friend of a close friend of mine.

I did not witness the actual shooting directly. We had to confirm with locals that it was from the APC and not the jeep. They said it was from the big machine gun atop the APC called a 215 something.

The evidence at the scene is quite damning. The store had been closed with steel doors at the time of the incident. The heavy gun just shot right through the cement wall and the steel doors into the back of the store and the man.

At the time of the shooting there were six people in the store, including a mother and her 10-year-old son. Many more could have been killed quite easily. Much of the merchandise is now bullet holed and a window manikin had its hand blown off.

The following morning the blood from the floor was mopped clean and the store back open for business. It was almost like nothing ever happened, but not in the hearts of the people.

The man was transferred to a hospital in Nablus (see other report) that night and according to a doctor from the hospital underwent 7 hours of surgery. He continued to have complications through the next day and his bleeding never stopped. He was conscious much of the time, I cannot even imagine the pain.

This morning he passed away. Today another funeral procession.

In truth similar incidents happen every couple days, and lesser but not insignificant incidents like maiming kids with more frequency yet. It is difficult to keep up with them and that is just in this city alone.

When contacted the Israeli Occupation Forces Spokesperson explained that shooting at random was illegal and therefore not done by IOF soldiers. Really. Apparently the killing of civilians isn’t as random as it seems.

Thanks oh Israeli soldiers for bestowing upon the people of Palestine such pleasant gifts this holiday season. They should be more grateful. Be assured they will never forget you and your gifts. Pray that they, and your god, will forgive you.

Eid Sayeed,

drew February 10 Tulkarem Occupied Palestine

Drew Penland is available for interviews over the phone and via email. He can be reached by phone in Occupied Palestine at: 972-(0)52-371338 972-(0)67-658873 (please remember the time difference!)

For information, to arrange interviews or to support ISM efforts please contact Reem Alnuweiri, ISM-Vancouver Coordinator by email at: ism-vancouver@palsolidarity.org

=============== 3) >From An Ambulance In Palestine Date: February 10, 2003 Author: Lisa Beth Area: Tulkarem

This is an account of one stage in the treatment of Mohammed Qadourah from a paramedic's perspective. Mohammed is a 21-year-old university student who was gunned down while working his third day at a retail shop in Tulkarem. He was shot through both legs; one femur was shattered, and the other was also fractured with damage as well to the femoral artery. His bleeding was immediate and profuse. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance crew worked to stop the bleeding and transported Mohammed to the local hospital. There, the emergency room staff splinted both legs, took X-rays to diagnose the injuries, started intravenous lines with multiple units of blood, administered pain medication, and continued attempts to slow the bleeding with only partial success.

I accompanied the ambulance crew who transported Mohammed from Dr. Thabit Thabit Hospital in Tulkarem to Nablus, where Rafidia Hospital is better equipped for trauma patients. When we picked up Mohammed from the Tulkarem Emergency Room, he was awake and oriented, able to talk to his family gathered around the bed. He had only a weak pulse in his left foot and none in his right, evidence of an interruption in his circulation beyond the injury sites; his skin was white, his arms and legs were cold, and pulses in his wrists were very weak, all indications of his body's attempt to compensate for the hemorrhage by shunting the available blood away from the periphery and into his vital organs. He was also restless and in pain, and continuing to bleed through the dressings on his legs, especially on the right side.

We transported Mohammed, accompanied by a Tulkarem ER doctor and Mohammed's father, to a meeting point close to the Nablus hospital. There we were met by another ambulance where Mohammed was transferred through a roadblock set up by the Israeli army—the reason a transfer of care was necessary—and the second ambulance continued on to Nablus. At the time of this transfer, Mohammed's condition had deteriorated significantly. He was no longer responding to us, and except for grimaces of pain, seemed unaware of his environment. Pulses were no longer present anywhere except weakly in the carotid arteries (the major blood vessels in the neck); his blood pressure was only 60/40 despite additional IV fluids administered while we were en route; and his respirations were mechanical and ineffective, an ominous sign of shock so severe that his brain was not receiving enough oxygen-carrying blood. At the time I began writing this account, the update on Mohammed was that he had gone through several hours of surgery at the Nablus hospital and was in critical condition.

Our transportation of Mohammed would be called "Code 3" in the United States: "lights and sirens", and permission to disobey traffic laws safely in order to hasten the journey. However, "Code 3" in Palestine is defined much differently. For the most part, Palestinian ambulances do not use sirens, as the sound is too similar to the Israeli army vehicles that are constantly patrolling the cities and villages, and would therefore serve only to frighten the residents. In addition, while an American ambulance must negotiate stoplights and intersections—where the traffic law exemption comes into play—the Palestinian ambulance encounters instead multiple "checkpoints". Many of these checkpoints are established and known, but just as often the Israeli army will set up spontaneous checkpoints. At these locations the ambulance must stop. An Israeli soldier will either approach the ambulance and request identification of the driver and all passengers, or will request that the driver exit the vehicle with these i.d.'s; often, the ambulance is waiting several minutes before the soldier initiates this first stage of the check. At times, the driver must also lift his shirt and turn around at gunpoint, to prove he is not armed. The soldiers then inspect the ambulance, compare i.d. photos with faces, sometimes inspect bags and purses, and ask about our point of origin, our destination, the reason for transport, and other questions which vary in their apparent relevance. The Palestinian ambulances do not have traffic law exemptions at these checkpoints.

During the leg of the journey in which I participated, we were stopped at least three times. At one checkpoint we were delayed at least five minutes, even though the units of blood attached to IV lines were clearly visible, as was the blood on and around Mohammed's legs that continued to seep out throughout the transport. One soldier included in his interrogation the questions, "who shot him?", "why are you going to the other hospital?", and asked our point of origin three times. Finally, after several minutes, I approached the jeep with the intention of explaining again that our patient is critical—as I motioned to the soldier to roll down his window, he simply returned the i.d.'s and told us to go on.

My role has been not only as a paramedic and part of the rescue crew, but also as an international presence to facilitate movement through these checkpoints. It is unclear how much longer this ambulance would have been required to remain at the checkpoint if I had not been present.

At the time I am finishing this account, we have learned that Mohammed died of his injuries this morning, Monday, 10th of February.

----------lisa beth Tulkarem, Palestine

=================

Request To Join A Committee Of Recommendation For A Petition To Stop Restrictions On Palestinian Daily Life And Education

Dear Sir or Madam,

Through this letter we would like to enlist your support for a petition. The petition, included at the end of this letter, will be addressed to international educational authorities requesting that the Israeli government lift the present-day collective measures that it has imposed upon the civilian Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza. Specifically we would like to ask you whether you are willing to join a committee of recommendation for the petition. This committee will be presented in the following way:

"The petition is endorsed and recommended by the following persons (name and title)". In this way, we expect to collect more signatures and support and to increase the petition's impact. After the action will be completed in about two months' time, we will foreword the signatures to international educational authorities and the international press.

We appreciate having your response within two weeks (before February 14). If a person from your circle is willing to join the committee, we would also appreciate to have a brief description of their position/title. Apart from the petition itself, you can find a background text below. We welcome your response at aei@p-ol.com or fax: +972-2-277.7554.

Thank you very much for your attention and support.

Fuad Giacaman and Toine van Teeffelen

Arab Educational Institute/secretariat "Let Our Children Go To School Campaign"

Bethlehem / 00-972-2-274.4030 / fax: 00-972-277.7554

INTRODUCTION TO PETITION The Israeli army regularly and routinely imposes full 24-hour curfews across many inhabited areas of the West Bank without explanation and without accountability. It is expected that new curfews will be issued to coincide with a possible war in Iraq. After experiencing prolonged curfews during the last year, several of which lasted for more than a month, many Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza have reached the limits of what they are able to bear.

The present Israeli Occupation is creating a humanitarian disaster. In combination with tight closures and other restrictive and oppressive measures, the curfews severely disrupt normal personal and family life. The economy in the Occupied Territories is in dire straits, poverty and health conditions reach alarming levels, and normal community life is completely paralyzed. It is not difficult to imagine how people feel when they consistently lack control over their daily lives and are barely able to plan. This particularly applies to education where the staff working at schools and institutes for Higher Education are constantly having to improvise their lessons and change their schedules, or cannot go to their work. Some universities have been closed by military order.

Not only are hundreds of thousands of pupils and students lacking any study rhythm, they are also often exposed to killings, injuries or teargas, and feel hopeless about their present and future. Their lack of orientation is compounded by the fear for a war on Iraq, and its consequences for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Many educators here have to live with the thought that a new young generation – the large majority of the Palestinian people, in fact – at present do not feel any future here. Regard this message, written while Bethlehem is once again under curfew, as an _expression of self-respect and a cry for help. We very much appreciate your support, especially at this dark moment in our lives.

The Arab Educational Institute (AEI) in Bethlehem is working on community education, especially for youths, in the southern West Bank. Its work focuses on peace and non-violence education, as well as inter-religious and inter-cultural cooperation and exchanges. AEI is affiliated to Pax Christi International, supported by CORDAID and a partner in the Euro-Arab Dialogue from Below (EAd) network.

AEI is also the secretariat of the campaign "Let Our Children Go To School" which started in the beginning of October 2002 in Bethlehem with a demonstration of many hundreds of school children in the presence of Christian and Moslem religious leaders, civil authorities and local NGOs. Another two demonstrations were held in Bethlehem and in the West Bank village of Taybeh, before the December curfews made new planned demonstrations impossible.

PETITION TEXT

To be addressed to international educational bodies and authorities.

Dear Sir / Madam,

Restrictive measures which collectively and over prolonged periods target the civilian Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza, such as the present curfews and closures, are completely unacceptable and should be lifted immediately.

The undersigned emphatically support the rights of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza to go to their schools and institutions of learning, and to conduct their normal duties of daily life.

Also in order to strengthen a long-term prospect for a just and stable peace in the region, we request you to do everything in your power to put appropriate pressure upon the Israeli government in accordance with the demands of international legality including the right of education.

Name:

Profession:

Email address:

Copy and send the signed petition to: mailto:aei@p-ol.com or +972-2-277.7554 (fax).

The action will last until April, 2003.

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