The invasion of Tulkarem refugee camp continued today unabated. The enormous military presence was accompanied by tanks, APC's, hummers, bulldozers, and jeeps. Soldiers continued to hold all of the over 1000 men that they rounded up yesterday. Some were held in the UNRWA girls school in Tulkarem. Others were being held at a school in the Nur Shams refugee camp. Many more were driven by trucks several miles from the camp, then they were dumped off and told not to return for 3 days.
The house to house searches continued as well. These "searches" often consist of destroying the contents of the houses that they are searching. On Monday the IOF conducted these searches randomly, making it difficult for ISM to anticipate where they would strike next. Today, however, they just went door to door. The occupation forces also blocked all of the alley ways and side streets with barbed wire.
As the bulldozers came into the camp, five ISM activists (from Ireland, Germany, the US and Occupied Palestine) followed the bulldozers and the soldiers. The soldiers told the activists that they had to leave for their own protection. When the activists refused, the soldiers pushed one of the women to the ground, and began pushing the others around. At the same time, 4 or 5 Palestinian men who were blindfolded and had their hands tied, were sitting next to a building that the bulldozer was destroying. An Elder woman was also sitting there. The activists wanted to sit with her but the army was now threatening arrest.
Meanwhile, around the corner from this scene, 11 – 14 men were forced to sit in the sun with their hands tied. The were left like this, and were given no water, from 10:00 AM until around 4:00 PM. They ranged in age from teenagers to men in their 60's
At approximately 2:00 PM, the IOF surrounded the Thabbat Thabbat hospital again. Yesterday, they had entered the hospital and beat and dragged out several young men. Today, they never actually entered the hospital. They simply searched every ambulance. In addition, there were several instances in the camp, where ambulances were not allowed to pick people up.
The car that was determined Monday by the border police to have been stolen from Israel and to therefore have a bomb in it, was still there today. They attempted to use this Monday as a justification for evacuating the hospital. The ISM activists never fell for this lie and refused to leave the hospital. Today, the army was talking about removing the car. As far as we know, the car is still there. I guess there was no bomb.
Throughout the day there were several houses occupied by the IOF. When the soldiers take over a house, they usually confine the family to one room, regardless of number. They use these houses for anything from sniper posts, to sleeping quarters, to command centers. They sometimes occupy these houses for months at a time. Before they leave, they usually ransack the house to demonstrate their gratitude.
AT approximately 4:00 PM, the ISM activists began knocking on the doors of these occupied houses just to harass the soldiers. Shortly thereafter the soldiers left. I'm sure this was just a coincidence. However, upon leaving one of these houses, the soldiers took one of the inhabitants and used him as a human shield. The activists saw the soldiers pushing him slowly down the street in front of them, especially when turning corners.
In addition to the houses that were occupied and those that were searched and ransacked; there were at least three houses destroyed.
Tom ISM Media coordinator
Beit Sahour, Occupied Palestine