Friday, January 07, 2005


Citizens of town in central Iraq take pride in their resistance to American-led occupation.   By Wisam al-Jaff in Ramadi

"Nothing's happening. They haven't shown up until now," the former army officer muttered into his mobile phone, keeping his eye trained on the road leading to a former palace now used as a base by the local US Marine garrison.   "We expect that at any minutes the Americans will enter," he explained. "And that's why we are now trying to protect our town. The Americans have nothing else to do here but arrest people."
After months of skirmishing with US forces, insurgents and citizens of this town say that they are preparing to drive out the Americans altogether.   They are attempting to emulate their neighbours in Fallujah, where the US Marines have essentially abandoned the town to the insurgents.   The two centres share tribal ties - both are dominated by the Dulaim tribe - as well as religious conservatism and a history of resistance to central authority that dates back to Saddam's day.   Many citizens proudly point out that Ramadi is the hometown of Mohammed Madhlum al-Alwani, a military officer who was executed for attempting to lead a coup against Saddam.
Today, however, the Americans are the enemy.   Ramadi has been a centre of anti-Coalition activity since autumn 2003, but residents told IWPR they would intensify their activity - because though sovereignty has been transferred to Iraqis, foreigners remain.   "We were patient. We waited for the handover. We told the mujahideen to be patient and to wait for June 30 [the original scheduled day for the transfer of power], but we were disappointed," said Hameed al-Fahdawi, 48, the owner of a stationary store.   Attacks, he said, "will continue as long as the Americans stay in the town."  
During the past three months, Ramadi has seen numerous fire-fights between insurgents and US troops, as well as the more common roadside bombs and mortar barrages.   Although insurgents in the town did not have the same street presence as those in Fallujah, pickup trucks filled with weapons, their windscreens removed to enable occupants to shoot out of the front of the vehicle, could be found on the side-streets.   For many in Ramadi, as in Fallujah, the fight is a question of religious injunction.   "Jihad [holy war] is an obligation according to Sharia law. Any man or youth who can carry a weapon must defend the town when the Americans enter," said Uthman al-Dulaimi, 38, who owns a shop for religious books.
"Americans raided mosques and arrested many imams, and defiled the holy Quran," he said. "They have no fear of God, they don't respect our religion."   For others, ejecting the Americans is a matter of pride.   "They provoke us when they enter our town. We are Arabs and we have our tribal traditions," said Khalid al-Namrawi, a former captain in the Iraqi army. "We will not allow any stranger or foreigner to enter and wander among us, even on over our dead bodies."   He added that some locals feel threatened by US forces in their town, expecting their homes will be raided and their money and gold stolen.   "Nobody can stop them. They arrest suspects at will and release them after torture and humiliation in prison," al-Namrawi claimed.
Many in Ramadi are anxious to follow Fallujah's example.   "The people of Fallujah made us raise our heads high, and became an example in resistance, and locals of Ramadi should emulate them," said Suleiman al-Asafi, 50.   "It's a disgrace to us that we do not resist the occupier when they enter the town, while our brothers in Falluja sacrifice all they have.   "We must sacrifice, and take Fallujah as an example. It's impossible to achieve our goals without sacrifice."
Wisam al-Jaff is an IWPR trainee.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

B'Tselem's 2004 Summary Statistics

From 1 January through 27 December 2004, a total of 915 people were killed in Israel and the Occupied Territories in the intifada.

Palestinian fatalitiesTotal: 803, including 174 minors
Did not participate in hostilities when killed
Killed when participating in hostilities
Unknown if participated in hostilities
Israeli fatalitiesTotal: 107, including 8 minors
Security forces

From beginning of the intifada
(29 September 2000)
Palestinian fatalitiesTotal: 3,174, including 617 minors
Did not participate in hostilities when killed
Killed when participating in hostilities
Unknown if participated in hostilities
Israeli fatalitiesTotal: 940, including 116 minors
Security forces
In addition, five foreign nationals were killed this year.

House demolitions:

During 2004, Israel demolished 181 homes in the Occupied Territories as a means of punishment and 1,357 homes on the claim of military necessity. These demolitions left some 11,500 Palestinians homeless. Altogether Israel has demolished 4,100 homes during the Intifada. As a result at least 28,000 Palestinians have been rendered homeless

Freedom of movement:

There are 55 permanent staffed checkpoints in the West Bank:
  • 17 checkpoints deep in the West Bank restrict movement between Palestinian cities;

  • 27 checkpoints control movement between Israel and the West Bank (including 10 around Jerusalem), 13 of which restrict Palestinian movement within the West Bank and not only into Israel;

  • 11 checkpoints are located inside the city of Hebron.
  • In addition, there are currently 17 checkpoints in the West Bank which are occasionally staffed, and hundreds of unstaffed physical obstacles.
Palestinian travel is restricted or entirely prohibited on 41 sections of roads throughout the West Bank, including many of the main traffic arteries, for a total of over 700 kilometers of roadway.


5,794 Palestinians, including 373 minors, are currently being detained by the IDF and the Israeli Prison Services (as of December 5). 863 of these detainees are being held in administrative detention without charge or trial, and without knowing when they will be released.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Death in Fallujah rising, doctors say


01/04/05 FALLUJAH -- ( IRIN - "It was really distressing picking up dead bodies from destroyed homes, especially children. It is the most depressing situation I have ever been in since the war started," Dr Rafa'ah al-Iyssaue, director of the main hospital in Fallujah city, some 60 km west of Baghdad, told IRIN. 

According to al-Iyssaue, the hospital emergency team has recovered more than 700 bodies from rubble where houses and shops once stood, adding that more than 550 were women and children. He said a very small number of men were found in these places and most were elderly. 

Doctors at the hospital claim that many bodies had been found in a mutilated condition, some without legs or arms. Two babies were found at their homes, who are believed to have died from malnutrition, according to a specialist at the hospital. 

Al-Iyssaue added these numbers were only from nine neighbourhoods of the city and that 18 others had not yet been reached, as they were waiting for help from the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) to make it easier for them to enter. 

He explained that many of the dead had been already buried by civilians from the Garma and Amirya districts of Fallujah after approval from US-led forces nearly three weeks ago, and those bodies had not been counted. 

IRCS officials told IRIN they needed more time to give an accurate death toll, adding that the city was completely uninhabitable. 

Ministry of Health officials told IRIN that they are in the process of investigating the number of deaths, but claim that a very small number of women and children were killed, contrary to what doctors in Fallujah have said. They added that they are working together with the US-led forces to rehabilitate the health system inside the city. 

Residents who have returned to their homes after waiting hours to enter the city found that most of their homes had been totally destroyed by the fighting which started nearly a month ago between the US-led forces and insurgents who are said to be under the control of Abu-Mussab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist wanted by the Iraqi government. 

"I've been here for more than six hours and until now could not enter the city, even after the fighting finished in our area. There is no respect for civilians," Samirah al-Jumaili, a mother of seven, told IRIN. 

The situation in Fallujah is still not clear. According to Col. Clark Mathew, spokesman for the US Marines, night time attacks continue in some areas of the city. US forces have informed residents not to leave their homes after the imposed curfew of 1800 to 0600. 

Mathew explained that most attacks were in areas where US troops have bases in order to secure the city, but added that by the end of this month the situation should be under control and that the reconstruction of Fallujah would then begin. "We hope that very soon reconstruction of Fallujah will start and families will feel a new life," Mathew added. 

"The US troops are saying that soon Fallujah will be rebuilt. I believe that this city won't offer a minimum of living conditions until another year has passed. I am still searching for what they have been calling democracy," Muhammad Kubaissy, a civilian from Fallujah, told IRIN. His home and two shops were destroyed in the fighting. 

"They came to bring us freedom, but all Iraqis are now prisoners in their own homes," he added. 

"It is impossible to live in Fallujah. There is no water, electricity or sewage treatment. Even hospitals cannot afford the minimum of security for all families of the city. We don't have enough medicine and you can feel the bad smell of bodies in the air," al-Iyssaue added. 

Residents of Fallujah have been asking the Iraqi government to allow journalists and TV reporters to enter the city in order to show the reality. 

The government will only allow journalists to visit with a special identity card, saying it is for their own safety. Many journalists have been turned away from Fallujah after not receiving authorisation from US-troops guarding the city. 

"We need someone here to show the reality of Fallujah. Even when some journalists are here they are being followed by the Marines. We need someone to help us. The world should see the real picture of Fallujah," Sheikh Abbas al-Zubeiny told IRIN. 

Copyright: Reuters