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Jenin under seige,soldiers fire on cars & buses

Jenin under seige,soldiers open fire on cars and buses, drivers detained and beaten,mobile soldier ’checkpoints’ create havoc

Jenin 9 Jun 03 Ewa Jasiewicz

Today Jenin is ’open’, however, the past five days or so - the time-period of the RoadMap Peace facade meetings - have seen soldiers shoot three people, destroy at least two vehicles and detain hundreds in Jenin.

Approximately five days ago, soldiers at the Jenad Street checkpoint ordered a man to go back into Jenin and buy them an Argheela (shisha water pipe),in exchange for his ID card which they had stolen from him. A new ID card costs 200 Shekels (a weeks wages for some) and takes approx. three days to materialise. When the man returned with the Argheela, stunned soldiers demanded to know why he neglected to bring them tobacco as well. He was forced to return to Jenin to bring them back a packet of tobacco. Al Ithlall - the humiliation.

Five days ago, approximately 50 people in total, gathered from the Seabaht and Jabbryyat areas, were prevented from entering Jenin and detained for 5 hours (some of the drivers, for 8) by soldiers who’d set up checkpoints in between the trees behind the Jabbryyat mountain road, and in front of the winding evergreen forest flanked road in Suetat. Soldiers beat some of the drivers with their M16s, confiscated all the car keys, shot one car to pieces, and stole three car stereos and two mobile phones. Keys were finally returned and the drivers forced to return to where they came from at 5pm that day. Some people ahd been detained in the sun since 8am.

Two days ago, soldiers at the Aba checkpoint - a dirt-pass crossing a vast army bulldozer gouged trench running alongside a settler road serving Eduminum settlement - opened fire on a bus full of passengers heading for Jenin from Aba. Three were injured, two requiring hospital treatment, one in the leg, the other in his arm. Both were men in their thirties.The driver of the bus was forced at gunpoint to climb up on to the roof of his bus and get down again at the whim of the soldiers. He was made to sit on the roof and comply with the orders of the soldiers for a total of five hours; up and down, sit, stand up; in the blazing midday sun.

Approximately 30 cars, including a UPMRC ambulance,were stopped on the road to Qabatia,off Jenad street, two days ago. At least 10 drivers were beaten by a group of three soldiers roaring up and down the road at haphazard intervals in a jeep. Approx. 100 people were forced to sit on the ground from the morning, and wait for their car keys and permission to leave. I arrived on the scene at 2.30pm. The UPMRC ambulance crew were having tea on chairs in the street beside a dust encrusted roadhouse. Servis taxi drivers were sitting listlessly in their vehicles; Radio Al Balad the only sound on the heady pine-scent airwaves; a group of men were sharing fanta on a shady grass bank at the end of the tail of abandoned cars. Every so often a battered up car would gingerly swerve up the road,the driver,shoulder-glancing, asking where the soldiers were, only to be told, Theyre not here right no An Al Awda Hospital ambulance had its keys stolen from it as it drove into Jenin Town Centre on the same day. One of the patients inside was kicked by a soldier and the other had his checkbook vandalised by another demanding he sign him a check for 150 shekels. They were left stranded for 4 hours. All day, soldiers in Jeeps were literally stopping drivers haphazardly, casually brutalising the vehicles’ occupants, stealing their keys and IDs and leaving them marooned in the middle of roads. The roads out of Jenin were just strewn with arrested cars.

Yesterday 15 cars, two lorries and their occupants were left stranded in the Suetat area for over 4 hours. Again, drivers were beaten. The group of soldiers responsible was the same group that beat the men in the Qabatia road and arrested me the day before.

At around 4pm, on the Yamoon village road, soldiers opened fire on a car travelling through a field. Nabil Ahmad jusef Jaradat (45) was shot in the head with a dumdum bullet, thought to have been shot from a tank. His co-passanger,Tariq Ziad Jaaradaat suffered glass wounds from the shattered car window. Nabil is now in the ICU at Raffidia hospital in Nablus. Bullet fragments are still in his head. The ambulance which took him there yesterday was detained at the Janad street checkpoint for an hour.

3 nights ago, a group of 20 soldiers entered Jenin Camp,from the Jabbryyat, on foot, supported by a jeep and tank after they slid into the Jiorta Dahab area, and arrested 20-year-old Computer Science student Ahmad Ehrewesh. The soldiers knew everything about his family: their history;that his father had passed away; that his brother had been arrested before; and their respective jobs. Ahmad was not wanted and had no political connections. He is currently being held in Salem.

Another male Jenin Town resident was arrested on the same night, also a student by the name of Ahmad. He too is thought to be in Salem.

Jenin Camp Resident Mohammad Saadi,a driver with the Patients Friends Society was also arrested, at Beit Eba Checkpoint,4 days ago, after he was detained for over 4 hours with his patient. The soldiers said his patient was wanted. Mohammad is now being held in Huwara.

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