|(Filed: 09/11/2004) Toby Harnden in Fallujah observes|
|American soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division taskforce avenging their fallen comrades as battle begins After seven months in Iraq's Sunni triangle, for many American soldiers the opportunity to avenge dead friends by taking a life was a moment of sheer exhilaration. As they approached their "holding position", from where hours later they would advance into the city, they picked off insurgents on the rooftops and in windows. The attack on Fallujah graphic The attack on Fallujah [Click to enlarge] "I got myself a real juicy target," shouted Sgt James Anyett,|
|peering through the thermal sight of a Long Range Acquisition System (LRAS) mounted on one of Phantom's Humvees. "Prepare to copy that 89089226. Direction 202 degrees. Range 950 metres. I got five motherf****** in a building with weapons." Capt Kirk Mayfield, commander of the Phantoms, called for fire from his task force's mortar team. But Sgt Anyett didn't want to wait. "Dude, give me the sniper rifle. I can take them out - I'm from Alabama." Two minutes tick by. "They're moving deep," shouted Sgt Anyett with disappointment. A dozen loud booms rattle the sky and smoke rose as mortars rained down on the co-ordinates the sergeant had given. "Yeah," he yelled. "Battle Damage Assessment - nothing. Building's gone. I got my kills, I'm coming down. I just love my job." Phantom Troop had rolled out of Camp Fallujah, the main US military base, shortly before 4am. All morning they took fire from the Al-Askari district in Fallujah's north-east, their target for the invasion proper. The insurgents, not understanding the capabilities of the LRAS, crept along rooftops and poked their heads out of windows. Even when they were more than a mile away, the soldiers of Phantom Troop had their eyes on them. Lt Jack Farley, a US Marines officer, sauntered over to compare notes with the Phantoms. "You guys get to do all the fun stuff," he said. "It's like a video game. We've taken small arms fire here all day. It just sounds like popcorn going off." Another marine stepped forward and began to fire an M4 rifle at the city. "He's a reservist for the San Diego police. He wants a piece of the action, too". A Phantom Abrams tank moved up the road running along the high ground. Its barrel, stencilled with the words "Ali Baba under 3 Thieves" swivelled towards the city and then fired a 120mm round at a house where two men with AK-47s had been pinpointed. "Ain't nobody moving now," shouted a soldier as the dust cleared. "He rocked that guy's world." One of Phantom's sniper teams laid down fire into the city with a Barrett .50 calibre rifle and a Remington 700. A suspected truck bomb was riddled with bullets, the crack of the Barrett echoing through the mainly deserted section of the city. The insurgents fired 60mm mortars back, one of them wounding a soldier. There were 25mm rounds from Phantom's Bradley fighting vehicles, barrages from Paladin howitzers back at Camp Fallujah and bursts of fire from .50 calibre machineguns. One by one, the howitzers used by the insurgents were destroyed. "Everybody's curious," grinned Sgt Anyett as he waited for a sniper with a Russian-made Dragonov to show his face one last, fatal time. A bullet zinged by. Dusk fell and 7pm, "A hour", the appointed hour to move into the city, approached. The soldiers of Phantom all reflected. "Given the choice, I would never have wanted to fire a gun," said Cpl Chris Merrell, 21, manning a machinegun mounted on a Humvee. "But it didn't work out that way. I'd like a thousand boring missions rather than one interesting one." On his wrist was a black bracelet bearing the name of a sergeant from Phantom Troop. "This is a buddy of mine that died," he said. "Pretty much everyone in the unit has one." One fear playing on the mind of the task force was that of "friendly fire", also known as "blue on blue". "Any urban fight is confusing," Lt Col Newell, the force's commander, told his troops before the battle. "The biggest threat out there is not them, but us." His officers said that the plan to invade Fallujah involved months of detailed planning and elaborate "feints" designed to draw the insurgents out into the open and fool them into thinking the offensive would come from another side of the city. "They're probably thinking that we'll come in from the east," said Capt Natalie Friel, an intelligence officer with task force, before the battle. But the actual plan involves penetrating the city from the north and sweeping south. "I don't think they know what's coming. They have no idea of the magnitude," she said. "But their defences are pretty circular. They're prepared for any kind of direction. They've got strong points on all four corners of the city." The aim was to push the insurgents south, killing as many as possible, before swinging west. They would then be driven into the Euphrates. • Tony Blair's problems over Iraq deepened still further last night when one of his most respected former advisers suggested the entire conflict had been illegal. Sir Stephen Wall, who was head of the European Secretariat in the Cabinet Office, said: "We allowed our judgment of the dire consequences of inaction to allow us to depart from the rule of law." Related links All-out assault on Fallujah|
Saturday, September 11, 2004
|We should not have allowed 19 murderers to change our world|
|By Robert Fisk|
11 September 2004
|So, three years after the international crimes against humanity in New York ,|
Washington and Pennsylvania we were bombing Fallujah. Come again? Hands up those who knew the name of Fallujah on 11 September 2001 . Or Samarra . Or Ramadi. Or Anbar province. Or Amarah. Or Tel Afar, the latest target in our "war on terror'' although most of us would find it hard to locate on a map
(look at northern Iraq , find Mosul and go one inch to the left). Oh, what a
tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive.
|Three years ago, it was all about Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'ida; then, at about|
the time of the Enron scandal and I have a New York professor to thank for
spotting the switching point it was Saddam and weapons of mass destruction
and 45 minutes and human rights abuses in Iraq and, well, the rest is history.
And now, at last, the Americans admit that vast areas of Iraq are outside
government control. We are going to have to "liberate" them, all over again.
Like we reliberated Najaf and Kufa, "to kill or capture Muqtada Sadr'',
according to Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, and like we lay siege to Fallujah
back in April when we claimed, or at least the US Marines did, that we were
going to eliminate "terrorism'' in the city. In fact, its local military
commander has since had his head chopped off by the insurgents and Fallujah,
save for an occasional bloody air raid, remains outside all government control.
These past two weeks, I've been learning a lot about the hatred Iraqis feel
towards us. Trowelling back through my reporter's notebooks of the 1990s, I've
found page after page of my hand-written evidence of Iraqi anger; fury at the
sanctions which killed half a million children, indignation by doctors at our
use of depleted uranium shells in the 1991 Gulf War (we used them again last
year, but let's take these things one rage at a time) and deep, abiding
resentment towards us, the West. One article I wrote for The Independent in
1998 asked why Iraqis do not tear us limb from limb, which is what some Iraqis
did to the American mercenaries they killed in Fallujah last April.
But we expected to be loved, welcomed, greeted, fêted, embraced by these people.
First, we bombarded Stone Age Afghanistan and proclaimed it "liberated", then
we invaded Iraq to "liberate" Iraqis too. Wouldn't the Shia love us? Didn't we
get rid of Saddam Hussein? Well, history tells a different story. We dumped the
Sunni Muslim King Feisal on the Shia Muslims in the 1920s. Then we encouraged
them to rise against Saddam in 1991, and left them to die in Saddam's torture
chambers. And now, we reassemble Saddam's old rascals, their torturers, and put
them back in power to "fight terror'', and we lay siege to Muqtada Sadr in
We all have our memories of 11 September 2001 . I was on a plane heading for
America . And I remember, as the foreign desk at The Independent told me over
the aircraft's satellite phone of each new massacre in the United States , how I
told the captain, and how the crew and I prowled the plane to look for possible
suicide pilots. I think I found about 13; alas, of course, they were all Arabs
and completely innocent. But it told me of the new world in which I was
supposed to live. "Them'' and "Us''.
In my airline seat, I started to write my story for that night's paper. Then I
stopped and asked the foreign desk in London by this time the aircraft was
dumping its fuel off Ireland before returning to Europe to connect me to the
newspaper's copytaker, because only by "talking" my story to her, rather than
writing it, could I find the words I needed. And so I "talked" my report, of
folly and betrayal and lies in the Middle East , of injustice and cruelty and
war, so it had come to this.
And in the days to come I learnt, too, what this meant. Merely to ask why the
murderers of 11 September had done their bloody deeds was to befriend
"terrorism". Merely to ask what had been in the minds of the killers was to
give them support. Any cop, confronted by any crime, looks for a motive. But
confronted by an international crime against humanity, we were not to be
allowed to seek the motive. America 's relations with the Middle East ,
especially the nature of its relationship with Israel , was to remain an
unspoken and unquestioned subject.
I've come to understand, in the three years since, what this means. Don't ask
questions. Even when I was almost killed by a crowd of Afghans in December 2001
furious that their relatives had been killed in B-52 strikes The Wall
Street Journal announced in a headline that I had "got my due" because I was a
"multiculturalist". I still get letters telling me that my mother, Peggy, was
Adolf Eichmann's daughter.
Peggy was in the RAF in 1940, repairing radios on damaged Spitfires, as I
recalled at her funeral in 1998. But I also remember, at the service in the
chancel of the little stone Kentish church, that I angrily suggested that if
President Bill Clinton had spent as much money on research into Parkinson's
disease as he had just spent in firing cruise missiles into Afghanistan at
Osama bin Laden (and it must have been the first time Bin Laden's name was
uttered in the precincts of the Church of England) then my mother would not
have been in the wooden box beside me.
She missed 11 September 2001 by three years and a day. But there was one thing
she would, I feel sure, have agreed with me: That we should not allow 19
murderers to change our world. George Bush and Tony Blair are doing their best
to make sure the murderers DO change our world. And that is why we are in Iraq .
|A Timeline of Al Quada's Attacks|
|A list of attacks that the American government feels is linked to the Al Quada.|
|February 26, 1993 |
A powerful car bomb explodes in a garage beneath the World Trade Center in New York , killing six and wounding hundreds more. Six followers of radical Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel Rahman are convicted in the bombing. Rahman once led an Egyptian group that later merged with al Qaeda, and two of his sons are al Qaeda members.
|June 25, 1996 |
A bomb kills 19 U.S. Air Force members at Khobar Towers , a military housing complex in the Saudi city of Dhahran . Although al Qaeda has not been conclusively linked to the attack, U.S. officials blame Osama bin Laden and pressure Sudan to expel him; he moves to Afghanistan .
August 7, 1998
Simultaneous bombings at the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania kill 224 people, mostly Kenyans. In retaliation, U.S. cruise missiles strike al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and a factory in Sudan that U.S. officials say was linked to bin Laden.
October 12, 2000
A massive bomb explodes in an attack on the Navy destroyer USS Cole during a port call in Yemen , crippling the vessel, killing 17 sailors and injuring 33.
September 11, 2001
Suicide hijackers commandeer four U.S. commercial flights in order to crash them into American landmarks. They crash two jumbo jets into the World Trade Center in New York and one into the Pentagon in Washington . The fourth attempt fails after passengers learn of the other flights and rush the hijackers. The incident ends when the plane, headed toward Washington , crashes into a field in Pennsylvania . The impact and fire at the World Trade Center cause the towers to collapse. By day's end, nearly 3,000 people have been killed.
April 11, 2002
A suicide truck bomber detonates his explosives near the entrance of a tourist-packed synagogue on the resort island of Djerba in Tunisia , killing 18 people, including a dozen German tourists. Authorities initially say the blast was an accident, but later call it a terror attack. Statements on a Web site believed linked to al Qaeda claim credit for the attack.
October 12, 2002
Deadly explosions rip through two popular nightclubs in Kuta on the Indonesian resort island of Bali , killing 202 people, most of them young Australians, and injuring more than 300. Dozens of victims are burned beyond recognition or blown to pieces. The attack is attributed to Jemaah Islamiyah, an Indonesian group affiliated with al Qaeda. Trials of the suspects are pending.
November 28, 2002
Shoulder-launched missiles are fired at an Israeli charter plane leaving Mombasa , Kenya . The missiles miss their target, but minutes later, three suicide bombers strike the Israeli-owned Paradise Hotel in Mombasa , killing ten Kenyans and three Israelis. A statement believed to be from al Qaeda claims responsibility.
May 12, 2003
Suicide truck bombers attack three secured residential compounds occupied mainly by Westerners in the Saudi capital, Riyadh , killing at least 21 and causing extensive damage. No evidence immediately ties al Qaeda to the attacks, but the tight coordination of the strikes raises suspicions.
May 16, 2003
Five near-simultaneous suicide bombings shocked the peaceful town of Casablanca , Morocco , killing 32 bystanders at targets including a downtown hotel, a Jewish community center and a Spanish restaurant. Moroccan authorities contend that the bombings were carried out by Moroccan citizens from poor slums around Casablanca , members of the clandestine al Qaeda-linked group, Salafia Jihadia.
August 5, 2003
A suicide car bomber detonates his explosives at the JW Marriott Hotel in central Jakarta , Indonesia , an American-owned hotel popular with expatriate business executives. The suicide blast causes heavy damage to the Marriott, kills 10 and injures more than 100. A few days later, al Qaeda claims responsibility for the bombing in an unsigned statement released to Arab media sites. Indonesian authorities believe al Qaeda's Southeast Asian arm, Jemaah Islamiyah, carried out the attack.
November 8, 2003
Seventeen people, including five children, were killed and 122 people were wounded in a suicide car bombing in a mostly Arab neighborhood in Riyadh , Saudi Arabia , the Saudi Press Agency said. The attackers stormed the affluent neighborhood near Riyadh 's diplomatic quarter, first firing on security guards and then driving their explosives-laden cars through the gates. The Saudis blamed al Qaeda for the attack and pledged to track down those responsible.
Friday, September 10, 2004
|Special Dispatch - Egypt/Arab Anti-Semitism Documentation Project|
September 10, 2004
|To view this Special Dispatch in HTML format, please visit: http://www.memri.org/bin/opener_latest.cgi?ID=SD78204|
Former Editor-in-Chief of Egyptian Government Paper: 'We were Educated from Childhood that the Holocaust is a Big Lie'
|On a recent program on Egypt's Al-Mihwar TV, a group of politicians and journalists discussed the issue of Holocaust denial. The panel included former newspaper editor Muhammad Al-Zurqani, columnist Abd Al-Qader Yassin, and author Rif'at Sayyed Ahmad, who recently made news for publishing an article in the Egyptian government daily Al-Liwaa Al-Islami titled "The Lie about the Burning of the Jews," which alleged that the annihilation of the Jews in gas chambers during World War II was a lie invented by Zionists in order to blackmail the West and to make possible the realization of the Zionist project.(1) Muhammad Al-Zurqani was the Editor-in-Chief of the paper at the time that the article was published, and he resigned following the ensuing controversy. The following is text from the discussion on Egyptian TV.(2) To view the clip, visithttp://www.memritv.org/|
Rif'at Sayyed Ahmad, president of Jaffa Research Center in Cairo: "This article was scientific research, which relied on many European and American sources concerning this lie, one of the lies upon which the State of Israel was established - the lie about the burning of the Jews in the Nazis' ovens. The original intention of the article, its main aim and philosophy, was not to go into this issue in depth, but rather to use it in order to highlight the current Holocaust that we are experiencing in Palestine and which does not cause the West the same pain that it feels about an event that was, at the very least, falsified or exaggerated."
Sayyd Ali, host: "Or whose truth is in doubt..."
Rif'at Sayyed Ahmad: "Or whose truth has been in doubt for sixty years, while today a true Holocaust is occurring from Rafah to Jenin, Nablus, Baghdad, and Nafaj. This is the Holocaust that our nation and our region is experiencing today, and the West does not pay attention to it and doesn't feel the same level of pain that it feels concerning the old Holocaust. When this article was published, the Zionist MEMRI organization in America and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is also Zionist, translated the article and then disseminated it and sent letters to the American Congress, to the American Embassy in Cairo and to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, and other places."
On the Phone - Muhammad Al-Zurqani, former editor-in-chief of Al-Liwaa Al-Islami: "I agree with what Dr. Rif'at Sayyed Ahmad wrote and I accept full responsibility. I think, Dr. Sayyed, that you and I are of the same generation, colleagues who worked together. We were educated from childhood that the Holocaust is a big lie."
Sayyd Ali: "Of course."
Abd Al-Qader Yassin, Palestinian politician: "The 'Chosen People'... The Jews borrowed from Nazism all of its concepts - that they are exceptional and that they are the best among the nations, exactly as Hitler thought of the Aryan people. The truth is that in today's world, it is impossible to speak of race. One can speak of nationalities, but they aren't even a nation. No, they [the Jews] are a religion."
Rif'at Sayyed Ahmad: "Antisemitism is a new pretext that the Zionist Jews have used since the '40s to blackmail both the West and the East. They used this pretext to claim that anyone who says even a single word against the Zionist enterprise is antisemitic. Semitic means in this case the Jewish religion and the tribulations and tragedies that the Jews have undergone at the hands of all humanity, including Hitler.
"In WWII, 18 million Germans were killed. Out of those 18 million, the million and a half Jews they keep talking about - if they were killed, and I am only saying for the sake of argument that one and a half million were killed in this Holocaust - they were killed as a result of the war, and were not killed by the...
"Of course I did not anticipate [these reactions], and if I had anticipated them I would have written more. I would have done more to expose this illusion."
Abd Al-Qader Yassin: "The Holocaust was carried out with the agreement of the Zionist and the German leaderships. There was a very well-known agreement between the leadership of the World Zionist Organization and Hitler. But there is doubt as to the truth of this story. The Transfer [Agreement]. There is also a book by Farris Glubb, the son of the Irishman John Bagot Glubb, 'The Star of David and the Swastika.' Also, our brother Mahmoud Abbas, 'Abu Mazen,' published a book for which he received a doctorate from the former USSR , about the ties... Let's read the title so as not to make a mistake... 'The Other Face - The Secret Ties Between Nazism and Zionism,' published by Ibn Rushd publications in Amman .
"Goldmann met with Mussolini. Jabotinsky met with Mussolini. They published joint statements which read 'We and you are the same,' fascism and [Zionism]. If I say these things, which have been proven by books from the West, from the East, from China and elsewhere, then I'm an antisemite?"
Rif'at Sayyed Ahmad: "The Palestinian prisoners today, who are leading the Palestinian Intifada in the start of its fifth year, and on an empty stomach, are suffering in the Palestinian jails [sic] a greater suffering than what the Jews or others suffered in Nazi prisons. This suffering has reached such a level that it has been said that all of the experiments conducted in the Abu Ghraib prison on Iraqi prisoners or in Guantanamo were first conducted on the Palestinian prisoners, whose numbers reach 8,000, and among them 300 women and 300 children. Some of them suffered from experiments that turned their bodies into germ laboratories and turned them into human guinea pigs."
Sayyd Ali, Host: "Into laboratory mice..."
Rif'at Sayyed Ahmad: "They have made them laboratory mice out of these heroic prisoners. This is an example of the modern Holocaust that we are now experiencing. A fresh Holocaust. Where is the West's conscience? I ask where is Anne Marie, the media advisor in the U.S. Embassy, on this issue? Where is Bush himself?
"The annihilation of olive trees... In the last two years half a million olive trees have been annihilated in Palestine . The olive tree is the oldest and deepest-rooted tree in Palestine . Why are they being annihilated? Is this not Nazism? Is this not a modern Holocaust?"
On the Phone - Imad Jad, Arabs Against Discrimination: "I believe that these organizations, and MEMRI in particular, which is one of the most prominent of those who monitor Arabic publications in this field - by the way, this organization is composed of officers from Israeli military intelligence and it is not a research institute. They monitored these two articles and said that they appeared in a newspaper which represents the Egyptian ruling party and not in the opposition newspapers. Afterwards, they began making a big deal and claimed that the article represents what is being written in Egypt in this field."
(1) See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 756, July 30, 2004 , " Egypt 's Ruling Party Newspaper: The Holocaust is a Zionist Lie Aimed at Extorting the West," http://www.memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=countries&Area=egypt&ID=SP75604 .
(2) Al-Mihwar TV ( Egypt ), August 28, 2004 .
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization that translates and analyzes the media of the Middle East . Copies of articles
and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request.
MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI)
P.O. Box 27837 , Washington , DC 20038-7837
Phone: (202) 955-9070
Fax: (202) 955-9077
Thursday, September 09, 2004
Commuting in the time of occupation
By Laila El-Haddad in Gaza
Thursday 09 September 2004, 19:05 Makka Time, 16:05 GMT
|The Rafah crossing is now the Gaza Strip's only exit point|
It is well known that getting in and out of Gaza is not for the
faint-hearted. But who could have known that this would take five
taxis, four buses, one donkey cart and a combined total of 35 hours?
|If tortuous is the word that best describes the route, then|
torturous is the word that perhaps comes closest to describing the
I needed to renew my US visa, but the Americans, like many Western
countries, have closed their offices in Gaza . Tel Aviv is off limits
to all Palestinians, and the next closest consulate is in Cairo ,
Israeli forces destroyed Palestine 's only airport in the southern
Gaza Strip at the start of the present intifada, and have not given
Palestinians access to their own facilities.
The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Israel is now Gaza 's only exit
point. So like thousands of other Palestinians, we had to make the
gruelling 18-hour trip to Cairo by land, after first running a
gauntlet of Israeli checkpoints and the attendant humiliating, long-
I was not enthusiastic about the prospect of making the trip across
the dreaded Rafah crossing, but prepared myself nonetheless. It was
just before dawn, our bags were packed, and my six-month-old son, my
mother and I girded ourselves for the journey ahead.
A ride with a view
We had barely begun our journey only to discover the coastal road
connecting Gaza city to the central and southern Gaza Strip had been
closed off to all vehicles by Israeli troops.
Armoured Israeli bulldozers backed by Merkava tanks rumbled off into
the distance after having just completed their job.
To our east lay the illegal settlement of Netzarim, its 400
inhabitants living in a world within a world. A little more than
8000 settlers occupy approximately 40% of the land in the Gaza
Strip; about 1.3 million Palestinians live on the remaining 60%.
Riding carts or walking along the
coast is often the only option
In front of us is a three-metre-deep pit, with towering mounds of
sand behind it.
We stood with tens of other perplexed Palestinian travellers,
wondering what to do next.
Some, with no suitcases, risk crawling over the mound under a hail
of Israeli fire. Others waited for the next best alternative -
donkey cart, Gaza 's latest mode of travel.
We waited until the first of the donkey carts arrived. Having been
given word of the coastal closure, many local farmers had taken
advantage of the supply and demand market to make a few extra
Along with an elderly couple and our luggage, we held for dear life -
and my son on to me - as the driver steered the rickety wooden
vehicle down Gaza 's hilly coast and on to the shore.
The journey was three kilometres through water, sand and gravel.
Most travellers take it by foot, unable to afford the relative
luxury of the $2 donkey ride.
The invisible soldiers
Ten minutes and several bruises later, we were back on the main
road, a little wetter and a little wiser (wearing white pants while
riding a donkey is a not so smart an idea, I realised).
We waved down our second taxi, which transported us a kilometre
south to our next hurdle: the Abu Huli checkpoint, dividing southern
and northern Gaza .
This checkpoint was set up in the middle of some of Gaza 's most
fertile farmland at the start of al-Aqsa Intifada. Several hundred
donoms of land, including some belonging to my own family, were
confiscated and razed in the process.
Long wait at checkpoints makes
travelling a daunting proposition
Cars had backed up along the main road, and our driver told us we
were better off waiting for it out without him, as it could be quite
a long wait.
We took shelter at a makeshift cafeteria. Along with a herd of stray
goats and hundreds of other Palestinians, we waited for what
stretched into four hours.
In Gaza , our occupiers are rarely seen. They hide behind military
machines and heavily fortified sniper towers.
They are cocooned in tanks behind massive pillboxes, or hover far
above in US-built Apaches helicopters. They operate their
checkpoints by remote control, and shout out their orders to us via
The invisible soldier manning the Abu Huli checkpoint used the
opportunity to taunt us. "Go back!" he shouted in Hebrew from behind
a blackened window, with only the tip of his rifle showing. "We are
not opening up for you today."
Impulsive and cruel
Experience has taught us never to trust the invisible soldiers
behind the blackened windows.
Suddenly, without warning, the red light near the checkpoint turned
green. The milling crowds of Palestinians stuck at Abu Huli scurried
to find a seat in the waiting overloaded cars and make it through
the checkpoint as quickly as possible.
Lesson number two: soldiers behind blackened windows are as
impulsive as they are cruel.
The heat and dust are especially
hard on infants and the elderly
"Move along, cows," bellowed the voice behind the window, this time
in broken Arabic.
We took our third taxi to the Rafah crossing, only to learn that we
had lost our place in line - new regulations require that you "make
a reservation" for your date of travel. They do not, of course,
take into consideration travel conditions through the Gaza Strip.
The Israelis only allow one taxiload at a time of people to cross
the fence dividing us from the heavily fortified border. We were
bumped from car one to car 36. After haggling our way up to car 18,
we found ourselves in a filthy surrounding with no shade and no
My son broke out in hysteric wails. He was hot, tired, and confused.
I began to worry about heat stroke, and eventually a kind passenger
offered his place in line. The worst of the first half of our
journey was over. After a few more hours, we were on our way to
We arrived in the Egyptian capital at 11 pm .
Back to Gaza
After successfully getting my visa issued a few days later, we
wasted no time and were back on the road to Gaza . We sped through
the star-lit Sinai desert, a five-hour journey by night, to make it
to the crossing in time - Israel has strict hours of operations: 8-
After swiftly finishing with Egyptian passport formalities, we were
asked to line up and waited for the first of two buses we would take
that day within a distance of less than 200 metres. This first one
would transport us only a few walkable metres away to the Israeli
A Palestinian lifts his shirt to be
checked by Israeli border guard
As with the taxis leaving the Gaza Strip, the Israelis give specific
orders to the Egyptians that only one busload of people at a time
may be sent over their way. And this busload is not to be unloaded
on the other end until the last person has exited the customs area.
And so we waited in the blistering heat for our bus to arrive.
But the bus didn't arrive. The first two buses could be seen at a
distance stalled ahead of the Israeli side. One hour became two,
then three, then five. The place was infested with flies that buzzed
around, eager to feast on the daily influx of exhausted, sweaty
I hadn't slept in more than 26 hours, and dozed off listlessly on
some cardboard boxes. My son did the same - crying himself to sleep
in my arms as I shielded him with a mosquito net.
When our bus finally arrived five hours later, we indulged in a
fleeting moment of euphoria, as if its appearance would somehow
change the reality of what awaited us.
About 100 people and hundreds of bags were then crammed into a 60-
seat bus, which sluggishly moved ahead to the Israeli side of the
Again we waited. There was a refreshing breeze outside, but the
driver relayed orders from the Israelis: We won't let you through
until everyone is in the bus.
I half-sat on piles of bags with my head squashed against the
ceiling, my face strategically positioned towards the window - a
small foot-long crack.
Rafah can test the endurance of
even the most patient commuter
The woman next to me offered to hold my son. Soon I felt the air
thinning. We were literally breathing in the smell of 24 hours of
One woman ripped off her headscarf and began banging on the bus
door, "Open it ... please open it. I'm going to faint." And then she
did. We splashed water on her face and fanned her with a cardboard
Soon another young woman fell to the floor. My mother, a physician,
examined her and found her pulse nearly gone. The entire bus erupted
in protest and finally the driver opened the door. We shouted to the
Egyptians for some help: We have two women down here and there is no
"What would you have done if you waited on the border for 20 days?"
said the officer, alluding to the 3000 Palestinians who were
stranded at the crossing in August.
The Egyptians are powerless by their own admission.
Everything here happens according to Israeli orders, and the
Egyptian officers are accomplices in an elaborately orchestrated act
Also with us were two children, accompanied by their parents,
suffering from cerebral palsy. The father of one of them spotted the
Egyptian officer and ran out of the bus towards him.
"Can't you do something about this?" he shouted. "Look at my son,
for God's sake. This is inhumane. Please!" The passengers saw his
pleas for intervention as futile and wrestled him back to the bus.
He broke down in tears.
The Israelis didn't seem to be bothered by the fact that a busload
of human beings were practically suffocating to death before their
eyes. Instead, they let pass truck after truck carrying gravel and
cement, being used to build the Rafah "buffer zone" and the West
Bank separation wall.
As if perfectly timed to maximise the bus passengers' suffering yet
minimise the chance of fatalities, the Israelis gave our bus the
green light to pass through, nine hours after we arrived. I felt an
uncharacteristic urge to lash out at the first Israeli soldier I
Two Palestinian women savour
the joy of finishing the journey
Alas, we were met by machine-gun-toting Israeli border police
officers dressed in civilian clothes. Along with our stamped
passports, they handed us the latest weapon in the Israeli armoury:
a propaganda publication entitled "The Truth".
Stop firing Qassam rockets, and we'll stop collectively punishing
you, it told us. You suffer at checkpoints and are stalled at the
Rafah crossing as a result of your own actions; as a result of
your "terrorist organisations".
At the back of the booklet was a cartoon showing an evil-looking
Arab firing a missile that backfires into "Palestinian society".
"Terrorism kills you," said the caption.
Now it all makes sense, I thought to myself. We force them to punish
us; to humiliate us; to trap our handicapped and elderly and young
in small, rundown buses in the midday heat for hours as a time until
they faint and, sometimes, miscarry if pregnant.
Now I clearly understand the Israelis' logic: their cruel, illegal
occupation of our land is a result of our own actions.
|The Twlight Zone/A Sound Sleep|
|Ha'aretz, September 9, 2004|
By Gideon Levy
|An elderly woman and six small children, among others, were|
bombarded all night by the army, looking for wanted individuals.
|Now they sleep with the light on, crowding into one room below, on|
the ground floor. It's the room of Rasmiya, the mother of the
family, an elderly woman of 70, whose eyes have grown dim and whose
body is half-paralyzed. But she, too, underwent the horrors of that
night with them. The terror of that night, between Monday and
Tuesday of last week, will be with them for a long time to come.
Basal, a six-year-old boy from Nazareth, goes from room to room in
his grandmother's house, touching the jagged holes in the walls that
were made by the missiles and the bullets, and muttering to
himself, "Get out, get out," in Hebrew, as he heard the soldiers
shouting at him at the end of that night of horrors, when the troops
ordered them to leave their shelter, behind the concrete pillar in
the corner of the living room. For three full hours they had
crouched on the floor behind the pillar, as they came under
relentless fire from every direction, the small children crying and
wetting themselves, the parents helpless.
It's hard to believe that no one was hurt in this battlefield. There
isn't a room that wasn't blasted, not a wall that wasn't perforated,
not a window that wasn't shattered, not a cupboard that wasn't
smashed. The missiles made gaping holes in the ceiling and the water
tanks on the roof were blow apart and flooded the house - but no one
For the residents of Jenin an unquiet night under fire is almost
routine. This time, though, there were guests in the house: Inthisar
Abudi, an Israeli woman from Nazareth , who had come to visit her
husband's family, and Adib, a son who lives in Saudi Arabia and had
come home after not visiting for the past four years. For them the
shock was even greater. They're not used to it. They went to sleep
late that night. It was a particularly pleasant summer evening, and
the guests from Israel and from Saudi Arabia sat with the family in
the living room under the glass chandelier, eating vegetables and
"We were content," says the brother, Ahmed, in whose apartment we
are sitting, with his whole family, as on that night. Ahmed and his
wife have three children, aged five to 14; Mohammed and his wife
have a seven-year-old daughter; Khaled is single; Adib came alone
from Saudi Arabia ; and Abdullah and Inthisar came from Nazareth with
their two children and the grandmother. Rasmiya, who can barely
walk, has to be supported by her sons.
At midnight last Monday they all went to bed. The son from Saudi
Arabia slept downstairs, by his mother's bed, the guests from Israel
were on the middle floor and the others elsewhere in the three-story
structure. At about 3 A.M. Inthisar woke up. She heard the noise of
gunfire outside, along with the sounds of explosions and the flashes
of light that looked like lightning. Frightened, she woke up her
husband and the children.
"I was afraid, I was very afraid," she says in Hebrew. Since
marrying Abdullah, her life has been split between Nazareth and
Jenin. During vacations they are here, in Jenin, in the family home
of Abdullah, which is located on a high hill in the southwestern
part of the city, at the exit in the direction of Nablus . During the
rest of the year, they are in Nazareth , her home town. The children
attend an Israeli school, in Nazareth . Inthisar shouted in Hebrew
from the bedroom to the soldiers outside: "Excuse me, soldier, we
have small children in the house." Her shout, she says - and this
was confirmed later by neighbors - could be heard all across the
Adib, the guest from Saudi Arabia , also woke up from the gunfire and
saw Jeeps and soldiers outside. He dragged his mother into the next
room, the bedroom of his brother Mohammed and his wife and daughter.
Rasmiya has been paralyzed for three years, and her eyesight faded
three months ago. Adib says that he was confused, thinking at first
that maybe someone was firing at the neighbors, until bullets
started to whistle through the room they were in. They moved from
one corner of the room to another, not knowing what to do. The
shooting came from all directions. From above he heard his brother
Abdullah shouting, "The house is falling on us!" A missile,
apparently fired from a helicopter, slammed into the roof and made a
large hole in the ceiling.
Another deafening explosion was heard from the direction of the
roof. Dust began to cover everything, and a pungent smell of
gunpowder spread through the house. Windows were shattered one after
the other. On the floor above Adib and his mother, Inthisar and
Abdullah and their children sat on the floor of the bedroom,
protecting their heads with their hands, as they show us now.
Despite the gunfire, Inthisar decided to try to get to the barred
window of the bedroom and make eye contact with the soldiers
outside, to tell them about the children and beg them to let them
leave the inferno in which they found themselves. She got up and
started to walk toward the window, but her husband leaped at her,
grabbed her dress and pulled her back to the floor. Abdullah was
certain that if she approached the window the soldiers would shoot
her, and he was probably right. (That is how Prof. Khaled Salah was
killed a month and a half ago in Nablus, along with his 16-year-old
son, Mohammed, when he moved toward a window in order to tell the
soldiers that the door was stuck and he couldn't open it to let them
enter the house.)
Inthisar and Abdullah, despairing of trying to shout to the
soldiers, decided to improve their position. They crawled to the
concrete pillar in a corner of the room, and used it as a shelter.
They pulled the children through the dark room until they were all
huddled behind the pillar. The children cried and urinated, wetting
the floor around them. One floor below, the elderly grandmother
nestled up to her son. Anuar was crying, but her brother Basal told
her to stop making noise.
It went on like that for two hours, from 3 to 5 A.M. During that
whole time, they say, the soldiers did not address them, either to
warn them or order them out. They also say that they heard no
gunfire from the direction of the house at the soldiers. At about 5
A.M. , Inthisar turned on the light in the hall and signaled to the
soldiers that they wanted to go downstairs, to a safer place. With
hands raised the Abudi family ran toward the stairs leading to the
grandmother's room below, and the shooting in fact stopped for a few
minutes. But in short order, it resumed and became even more
intense. "Why didn't they let us leave the house?" Abdullah asks
At first light, about 6 A.M. , the soldiers, using bullhorns, ordered
the occupants of the house to come out. Again they were wracked with
fear, not knowing where to go out and deathly afraid of the
soldiers. "It was the first time I ever saw anything like that and I
didn't know what we were supposed to do," Inthisar says. They called
the Red Crescent emergency service and tried to summon help. Maybe
there are people who are dead or wounded in the house, they thought.
Inthisar emerged first, shouting to the soldiers that there was a
sick old woman in the house and small children, too. Then the
children and the men came out, their shirts rolled up at as per the
soldiers' order. They pulled out the grandmother slowly, supporting
her so she wouldn't fall, finally placing her by the side of a Jeep.
They came out barefoot, in pajamas. Inthisar told the soldiers that
there might be wounded people inside. The soldiers ordered Adib to
go back inside and make sure there was no one there. The Israel
Defense Forces used to call this the "neighbor procedure" and then
changed the name of the pernicious practice to "early warning,"
after the High Court of Justice prohibited the "neighbor procedure."
This week the president of the Supreme Court, Justice Aharon Barak,
called on the army to stop using the "early warning" procedure as
well. But last Tuesday, Adib Abudi entered the house on a mission of
the IDF, to mop it up, with or without an "early warning."
The five brothers were handcuffed and blindfolded. The marks left by
the plastic handcuffs were still clearly visible this week. They
asked the soldiers to loosen the handcuffs a bit, but the soldiers
told them to be quiet. Soldiers and dogs entered the house for a
search and added to the disorder and destruction inside. At 8:30
A.M. the men were taken to an IDF facility next to Araba, leaving
the women and children behind. They were questioned about whether
they had hidden wanted individuals in the house, and denied it. The
interrogators told them that there had been wanted men in the house
and that those men had opened fire from it at the soldiers. The
brothers said they had heard and seen nothing.
"Maybe they shot from the hills above the house," Ahmed says, "or
maybe from the roof. We heard nothing. Our house is clean, clean.
From the start of the intifada not one wanted individual has entered
and the IDF didn't enter and we have never been in prison. The
interrogators said there were wanted people. There is a mountain
here. People pass by here, but I am not responsible for those who
do. There were never firearms in our house, nor wanted people; and
you won't even find a flag there."
The IDF Spokesperson's Unit: "In the course of activity to make
arrests in Jenin, an IDF force came to a house where wanted people
were suspected of hiding. Massive fire was directed at the force
from the direction of the house and the surroundings, and the force
returned fire at the sources of the shooting. The soldiers called to
the occupants of the house to come out, and to the wanted people to
surrender. When the residents of the house came out, four
Palestinians were arrested and taken for interrogation by the
security forces. Afterward the force combed the house and the
surroundings to locate the wanted individuals, and after finding
none, left the place."
The brothers were held in custody until 3 P.M. and then released.
The soldiers dropped them off at a remote site, near Mevo Dotan, a
settlement that Palestinian drivers are afraid to approach. They
were barefoot and the asphalt burned the soles of their feet; they
sat down by the roadside, and waited. Finally a Palestinian taxi
passed by, and took them home. They arrived at 4 P.M. , about 11
hours after it all began. They didn't sleep a wink all night.
Rasmiya enters the room supported by her sons. After that night she
was hospitalized for a few hours and then released. She hasn't
stopped crying since. Silent tears. "What happened to us never
happened to anyone. I keep remembering the small children, their
fear, I hear the voice of my son Abdullah, afraid that something
happened to him." Her body moves from side to side, heaving,
refusing to be at rest.
Her daughter-in-law, Inthisar, also breaks into tears. One of the
granddaughters, Ula, is holding a pair of bullet-ridden black pants,
desperate to show them off.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
|Gaza Health |
|Israeli occupying forces made an incursion into the Jabalia refugee|
camp - now home to 80,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendents
for the past 56 years. The operation went on for three long days.
|Day 1: September 8|
In the first few hours of the incursion 4 people were killed and
tens of others were injured, many of them seriously. According to
physicians who tended to the wounded the Israeli soldiers targeted
the chest, abdomen and lower limbs, of boys who were throwing stones
at the army tanks and bulldozers while they demolished homes and
razed agricultural land ( 30 houses were destroyed (10) completely &
(20) partially which left at least (200) people homless). The
youngsters were protesting in their own way against the presence of
the occupying forces in their town, some of them didn't live to tell
Day 2: September 9th, 10AM
On my way to Al-Awda hospital I paid a visit to Al-Assria medical
and community center (both hospital and medical center are run by
the Union of Health Work Committees). The aim of my visit was to
watch a rehearsal by the Al-Assria folklore dancing group. The kids
are preparing for a tour in Britain organized by the Sheffield
Palestine Solidarity Campaign, where they will perform the
traditional Palestinian Dabka dance.
Verses from the Quran were emanating from loudspeakers outside
indicating one of the many funerals for the previous day's martyrs.
The boys and girls were practicing seriously but enthusiastically,
but they could not resist joking childishly about a member of their
group who couldn't come to the rehearsal because the Israeli army
was blocking his way due to the army presence nearby.
The kids danced to traditional Palestinian Dabka music, but at the
same time they endeavored to keep the music down so as not to offend
the people at the nearby funeral.
I finally decided against going to Al-Awda hospital after they
called me to say that there were Israeli snipers monitoring the road
to the hospital and it was too dangerous an undertaking.
Day 2: September 9th 12 noon :
As I left Jabalia, amidst the carnage Na'ima Naser from the nearby
village of Beit Hanoun went into labor. Na'ima was pregnant with
quadruplets as a result of IVF treatment after 16 years of
infertility. During the last month of her pregnancy Beit Hanoun was
besieged by the occupying army for 42 days, so Na'ima was unable to
receive regular antenatal care, which had an added importance due to
the large nature of her pregnancy. When she went into labor during
the Jabalia incursion, even normal the seven minute drive to Al-Awda
hospital became a dangerous journey because the army was operating
close to the hospital. Despite all the odds she gave birth to 4
babies, 1 girl (Heba) and 3 boys (Mohammed, Abdel Kareem and Bader
Day 3: September 10, The aftermath
The total death toll after the withdrawal of the army was 9 killed
and 150 injured, at least 100 of the injured were children. Al-Awda
hospital alone received 89 casualties – including 45 chidren – in
addition to one health worker who was targeted by the army while on
During its three day operation the Israeli army severely damaged the
water and telecommunications infrastructure in the area; needless to
say this made it extremely difficult for residents to contact the
emergency services to evacuate the wounded to the Al-Awda hospital
nearby. Furthermore the disrupted water supply was an extra addition
to the suffering to the people in the incursion area.
As the days go by I realize how remarkable the Palestinian people in
Jabalia, Nablus , Beit Hanoun, Rafah and elsewhere in Palestine are.
They do their best to go on with their lives despite the war that
has been imposed upon them by the Israeli occupation. Despite it
all, life goes on, they sing and dance, build schools and get
educations, train and compete in the international sporting
competitions ( The Olympics and the World Cup qualifiers to name a
I look at all this and dream of the day when the occupation ends the
Palestinians receive the justice they have been awaiting for 56
Yours in solidarity,,,
Dr. Mona El Farra
Union of Health Work Committees
Dr. Mona El Farra – UHWC
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
|SUMMARY OF PRESS CONFERENCE|
Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi Director HDIP
Monday, September 27, 2004
|Dr Mustafa Barghouthi began today's press conference with a summary|
of recent trends and statistics. The second Intifada, now entering
its 5th year, has seen the World distracted by events in Iraq
enabling Israel to continue violating Palestinians' Human Rights
with complete immunity. The International media remains more
accessible to the Israeli side and thus allows Israel to push
forward their preferred narrative. Furthermore, these past years
have witnessed a significant deterioration in international support
and involvement with the peace process, many becoming disheartened
and reluctant having supported the now dead Oslo Peace Process.
However, the Intifada has also witnessed the emergence of a new
democratic opposition movement, born within the Palestinian
Territories , together with a consolidation in support for
pioneering, modern Palestinian leaders.
|In the years since 1948, the Palestinians have witnessed a|
consistent decrease in their promised State - now just 11% of
historic Palestine (as according to Sharon 's plan). What we are
looking at now is not a future Palestinian State , but a series of
Death and Injury
In the four years since Sharon 's famous visit to the Haram Al Sharif
we have seen 4,342 Palestinians and Israelis killed. Of those 1,008
were Israeli and 3,334 Palestinian. 82% of Palestinians killed were
Two to three Palestinians are killed by Israeli soldiers, police or
settlers per day. Whilst this number may appear to be low, if this
death rate were to be applied to the UK it would be equivalent to 35
being killed per day, and in the US this would be 157 per day.
Since the start of the Intifada on the 28th of September 2000 , 621
Palestinian children below the age of 17 have been killed by the
Israeli occupation forces. Of this figure 411 were shot with live
ammunition and 200 were shot in the head, face or neck. 331 were
from the Gaza Strip. 10,000 Palestinian children have been injured.
Dr Barghouthi insisted that there is absolutely no excuse to justify
the killing of such a huge number of children. What is equally
disturbing is the telling figures of injuries received to the head –
Israeli forces were obviously shooting to kill. In fact the majority
of Palestinians killed have suffered injuries to the head and upper
424 Palestinians have died in extra judicial executions
(assassinations). 186 of those were bystanders or "unintended"
victims, killed as they were near the victim. 39 bystanders were
children 26 were women. With regards to extra judicial
assassinations, in Gaza whilst 72 Palestinians died in targeted
killings, a shocking 118 bystanders were additionally killed in
Israel continues to make use of an old emergency law that dates back
to the British Mandate. This Law allows Israel to arrest and detain
anyone for an unlimited time without charging them. There are
currently 78 Palestinian children in administrative detention.
There are also currently 100 Palestinian women and 377 children in
Israeli prisons. 80% of the children are routinely tortured or
harassed and 31% suffer from disease.
30% of Palestinian children suffer from chronic malnutrition. The
number of pregnant women unable to receive any medical attention
during their pregnancy is now five times higher than figures before
More than one billion dollars worth of Palestinian infrastructure
has been destroyed by Israeli forces and more than 200 million
dollars of this has been donor financed. Since the start of the
Intifada the Palestinian GDP has decreased by 50% and agricultural
losses have amounted to more than one million dollars.
Israeli forces have shelled or broken into 298 Palestinian schools.
4 young children were shot in the head in UNRWA run schools in Gaza ,
in 2004 alone.
Water & the Evolution of Apartheid
Since September 2000, the price of water in the Palestinian
Territories has increased from $2.5 per cubic meter to $7.5 per
cubic meter. And only a shocking 70 litres per person per day is
consumed in the West Bank for domestic, urban AND industrial use.
200 Palestinian communities have no access to a clean water supply.
In the Gaza Strip we can no longer forecast a disaster because it
has already begun. There is no water supply in Gaza that is fit for
Every Israeli citizen consumes five times more water than the
Palestinians. Illegal settlers living in the West Bank consume
twenty times more water than the Palestinians living there.
There are currently 703 movement restrictions in the West Bank
alone. As an example of the effects on Palestinian everyday life
that this has caused, whilst a journey from Ramallah to Hebron
should take around one hour, it has taken up to twelve hours for
86 Palestinians have already died because of movement restrictions,
and this figure includes 30 children. Had these people been allowed
to travel, they would have probably survived. In addition at least
55 women have been forced to give birth at checkpoints with 20
losing their children.
The Wall is three times as long and twice as high as the Berlin
Wall. In Qalqilia 40,000 residents are imprisoned within the Wall in
what can only be described as a ghetto. As well as those imprisoned
inside the wall the residents of surrounding villages now placed on
the western (Israeli) side of the wall have been cut of entirely
from schools, jobs, healthcare and family. Many in fact have lost
all access to the outside world is controlled by 11 Israeli manned
gates which are collectively only opened for a total of 55 minutes
per day. Anyone who wishes to enter or leave Qalqilia must have
special permission – even patients and medical services. Qalqilia
residents claim that they can no longer see the sunset.
Whilst there is talk about adjustments to the Wall's route, there
are in fact no changes other than mere cosmetic alterations. What we
are witnessing is not just the building of the Wall it is the
destruction of a two state solution.
Disengagement in Gaza and the Road Map to Peace Sharon only accepted
the Road Map as it was approved by the Israeli Cabinet and this was
with 15 reservations, the first being a refusal to freeze any
settlement building. At the same time whilst Sharon talks about
removing settlements in the West Bank, he is referring to 4 that
exist in the north of the West Bank, that exist on land that can not
be enclaved by the Wall. The other existing settlements will of
course remain because they exist on land that Israel plans to
appropriate through the Wall and enclaves.
Unfortunately, with regards to Sharon 's Gaza Plan most of the
World's media mistakenly continues to refer to it as a "withdrawal".
In fact Sharon never referred to a "withdrawal", what he actually
said was that they would redeploy from Gaza but the military would
still enter at any time they deemed appropriate. In Rafah the
Israeli forces are destroying on average 6 houses per day in order
to clear a passage separating Gaza from Egypt, which will grant them
full border control. So far 2200 homes have been demolished in this
Periods of "Relative Calm?
During this last year of the Intifada, there has been a serious rise
in mass popular support for non-violent resistance. This is why
suicide attacks against Israel have significantly depleted, not
because of the Wall. However, this has certainly not encouraged
Israeli forces to stop attacking Palestinians.
Between March 15 and August 31, 2004 , the International media talked
of a period of "relative calm" purely because there were no suicide
attacks against Israel . However, the following days of March saw 45
Palestinians dead with no Israeli casualties; April saw 56
Palestinians dead compared to 3 Israelis; and May saw 116
Palestinians dead (the majority during Israel's "Operation Rainbow"
in Rafah) compared to 19 Israelis. It must be noted that of the
total Israelis killed, 18 were Soldiers, 10 were illegal settlers
and only 3 were civilians. This means that during a period of
practical cease fire on the part of the Palestinians Israel
continued to kill civilians at a rate of 12:1. If Sharon was at all
serious about wanting a peaceful solution, genuine advantage could
have been taken during this period of quiet, instead he proceeded to
kill more Palestinians than at any other time since the beginning of
the Intifada other than the 2002 invasions.
Palestinian Elections and future Democracy?
Israeli forces have closed six election registration offices in
Jerusalem as well as others across the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Dr
Barghouthi stressed that this is totally unacceptable and if the
Palestinians are to achieve reform through democratic process, then
the International community must do more than condemn these recent
actions, they must demand that Israel reopens the offices. Democracy
he insisted is a precondition not only for reform but also for
lasting peace, a peace based on justice.
Dr Barghouthi concluded the press conference by declaring that
unfortunately, he was almost 100% sure he would be greeting the same
audience at a press conference to mark the fifth anniversary of the
Intifada. As of yet, there has been no reason for the Palestinians
to stop resisting – "either we live as slaves under an occupation or
we continue to struggle for freedom", and the latter he insisted is
the path that will be taken.
A breakdown of the statistics for the four years of Intifada quoted
in Dr Barghouthi's presentation is available here.
NOTE: all statistics are based on information available at the time
|Yumi, who's been living as well as working in Rafah,|
the southernmost town of the Gaza Strip, for nearly a year and half,
engaging in a psycho-social program for the Palestinian youth in
Rafan as a Japanese NGO worker.
|This is not the first sad news that I received from her, but another|
sad news about a kid in Rafah. On 30 August, one of the children
she's been working with, Mazen (15), was shot to death, IN FRONT OF
his house, which is located very close to the border ... probably
one of the most dangerous borders today.
Please spare a little of your time to read the letter from her and a
moment to pray for Mazen.
Read, “A moment for Mazen”
|Another Day, Another Life|
I had a feeling that one day it would happen.
In June 2003, I started working with youths living closest to the Rafah border. These kids live in the most extraordinary circumstances where, for the past 4 years, they've had front-seats to the sound of gunfire and periodic explosions on a nearly daily/nightly basis. The very proximity of their homes to the border increases their exposure to danger. Military watchtowers, built behind the 8m iron wall along the border, often fire at will at the surrounding houses and any moving objects. The areas closest to the border are also subject to frequent military incursions of all scales, large and small, which, in the name of “security”, often leave behind demolished houses, destroyed infrastructure, injuries and death. More...
A letter, “A Death in the Family”
The following letter was written by a Japanese, Yumi Terahata living in Rafah, the southernmost area of the Gaza Strip. The letter was written shortly after the death of her "brother" .
Monday, September 06, 2004
|By HADI AWAD, Associated Press Writer|
|BAQOUBA, Iraq - Iraqi health officials on Thursday raised the death toll to 70 from a suicide car bomb that devastated a busy, shop-filled street in Baqouba, while militants said they had killed two adbucted Pakistani contractors but freed their Iraq driver.|
In a videotape sent to Pan-Arab TV station Al-Jazeera Wednesday, a group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq said they had carried out a threat to kill the Pakistanis because their country was discussing sending troops to Iraq . The newsreader said the video showed the corpses of the two men, but the station declined to show the footage.
|The men were identified by Pakistan as engineer Raja Azad, 49, and driver Sajad Naeem, 29, both of whom worked for the Kuwait-based al-Tamimi group in Baghdad .|
"Those who have committed this crime have caused the greatest harm both to humanity and Islam," a statement from Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and his prime minister said Thursday.
Also Thurday, according to a videotape aired on Al-Jazeera, the terrorist group of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi kidnapped a Somali truck driver working for a Kuwaiti company in Iraq .
Meanwhile on Thursday, Iraqi Healty Ministry spokesman Saad al-Amili raised the death toll for a massive suicide bombing a day earlier in Baqouba, a city 35 miles northeast of Baghdad , to 70 from 68. He said that 56 people were injured.
Casualties from the vehicle-born bomb blast, which targeted an Iraqi men waiting outside a police station to apply to join the police, overwhelmed Baqouba's hospital.
The blast, one of the deadliest single-bomb attacks since Saddam Hussein's fall more than a year ago, came just three days before the country is to convene a national conference that will choose an interim assembly — considered a crucial step toward establishing democracy.
Across Iraq , U.S. and other coalition forces fought a series of gunbattles with insurgents.
In one clash with militants thought to have crossed over from Iran , 35 insurgents and seven Iraqi police were killed near the south-central Iraqi city of Suwariyah . Polish Lt. Col. Artur Domanski, a multinational force spokesman, said he had no information on whether the insurgents were foreign fighters or Iraqi militants.
Also Wednesday, the military said clashes throughout Anbar province killed two coalition troops, and two U.S. soldiers were killed in separate roadside bombing attacks.
Their deaths raised the toll of U.S. military personnel killed in Iraq to at least 906 since the war began, according to an Associated Press tally.
The large number of civilian casualties in attacks has angered many and even raised questions on Islamic Web sites, where the morality of killing Muslims who work for U.S. coalition forces in Iraq has been debated.
In an audio recording posted Wednesday on one site, a speaker purported to be the spiritual adviser of an Iraqi insurgency group justified killing fellow Muslims when they protect infidels and also the deaths of bystanders in an attack.
"If infidels take Muslims as protectors and Muslims do not fight them, it is allowed to kill the Muslims," said the speaker, identified as Sheik Abu Anas al-Shami, spiritual leader of Tawhid and Jihad, a group led by al-Qaida-linked Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The speaker also said that if Muslims who "mingled" among infidels were killed in an attack, that would be justified because killing infidels is paramount. The tape was recorded before the June 28 handover of power.
The attack in Baqouba targeted a police station, and many of the dead and wounded were among the hundreds of Iraqis gathered outside hoping to join the force, police said. The blast also ripped through a passing bus, killing 21.
Barham Saleh, deputy prime minister for national security, blamed foreign fighters and Saddam loyalists for the 10:13 a.m. bombing in Baqouba, once a center of support for Saddam that is now a hotbed for the insurgency. Saleh called the attack "a cowardly act carried out by the treacherous pawns of terrorism."
The street in central Baqouba was soaked with blood and strewn with corpses. Scorched bodies — some with their clothes blown off — lay in the middle of the road, up against nearby buildings and under burned, crushed vehicles. A white metal security gate outside a shop was stained red.
The morgue — its floor red with blood and blackened where charred corpses had been dragged — overflowed with bodies stacked on top of each other in the refrigerator. The bodies that did not fit were lined up on the ground outside, some covered with blankets, one with only palm fronds.
One man collapsed in grief as he found his son's lifeless body. "It's Hatem, it's Hatem," he wailed.
Witnesses said the bomb targeted men waiting outside the al-Najda police station trying to sign up for the force.
"As one of the officers was giving us instructions on how to register we heard a big explosion," said Sabah Nouri, 33, whose left leg and hand were injured. "Suddenly I found myself being thrown to the ground, and I was unable to move. Then some people lifted me and took me to the hospital."
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