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ISM Reports: Vacation In Gaza

ISM Media Office. Undod Palesteina. ISM Aberystwyth. Aberystwyth Peace Network | 25.08.2003 19:43 | Anti-racism | World

The Latest ISM Reports.

1. Vacationing in the Gaza Strip
2. Nablus Incursion Ends After Four Days
3. Lost For Words

1. Vacationing in the Gaza Strip

To relax, go to the closed checkpoint on the way to Rafah beach. 
For extreme sports, go to Gaza City and dodge Apache missiles...

I chose the latter.  Yesterday I left to Gaza City for a few days vacation from ISM work and from the intensity of Rafah.
At around 9.45 at night, as we were finishing a dinner of fresh vegetables and pasta soaked with olive oil and soy sauce, we heard an Apache in the sky.  This is a normal occurrence in Rafah so it didn't phase me.  Besides, it was Sunday, the day the UN helicopters fly over the border areas...

But helicopters are not an everyday occurrence for Gaza City. We heard the explosion and ten minutes of silence. And then ambulances and more ambulances.  And by that time the images were repeating themselves on Al Jazeera and CNN, medical workers picking body parts out of the sand in the eerie shadows of sirens in the night. At least four have been killed and I don't know how many wounded.

I'm staying with my friend Molly who lives in a gorgeous flat on the outskirts of the city, in Ramal area on the beach. This is probably the safest part of the city, although a couple of attacks have been carried out down the street from where we live. The place is luxury itself, a small clean room leads out onto an immense patio of white tiles and garden and shade.

I'm hearing the US news hasn't covered the incursions in Palestine, so for those of you who don't have time to check the news, the army has been in the West Bank for days now. Tanks have surrounded all major towns and some smaller villages. Passage in and out has been cut off. Between Nablus, Hebron, and Tul Karem, 14 people have been killed and dozens injured.
While the media were busy covering all the extrajudicial assassinations in the various cities, the army then flattened an entire shopping area by the Green Line near Tul Karem, demolishing 120 (I've also heard 140) stores and scheduling more for demolition.  This is the largest demolition since the beginning of the Intifada.

In the Gaza Strip, tanks have surrounded Beit Hanoun and Beit Lahia (everything North of Gaza City). In addition to last night's attack, four days ago an Apache assassinated Ismail Abu Shanab, a Hamas non-militant professor and spokesperson. They say he was assassinated for his speaking ability.  And in Rafah shooting has increased along the border almost to what it was before the ceasefire.

2.Nablus Incursion Ends After Four Days

Nablus, Monday 25.08.03

Fourth day of incursion in Nablus (Sunday)

Since the Israeli army took over the Old City of Nablus and the
surrounding areas late Wednesday night, the population of Nablus has had to live through four continuous days of curfew, house searches and wide scale human rights violations. The Israeli Army also invaded the nearby villages Beit Furik, where four children were injured after being shot at, and Asira, where house searches were conducted and arrests were made. Monday morning the army seems to have left the Old City.

So far one person has been killed.  Khaled Anamroti, a wanted militant, was killed in a targeted assassination that took place inside the Rafidia Hospital, that left also two other persons seriously injured. Scores of injuries from rubber bullets, live ammunition and teargas were reported. While there has been no armed resistance, children and youths were confronting jeeps and tanks with stones, Molotov cocktails and barricades. The occupying army have been excessively violent from the start. After curfew was lifted for about two hours on Saturday afternoon, it was re-imposed earlier then announced by shooting on people that were desperately trying to buy food and other basic supplies. People that were caught on the streets under curfew by soldiers and border police have been severely beaten and humiliated. About 30 people were injured on Sunday by an unusual kind of yellow gas, which has far more severe effects then the usual teargas.

Numerous houses and shops have been searched. Shop doors are routinely blown open to force entrance, resulting in massive destruction of merchandise. A medical centre of the Union of Health Work Committees has also been broken into in this way, although employees on the scene offered to open the doors for the soldiers. Office and medical equipment, including an ultra sound machine for prenatal examinations were damaged.  Private homes are routinely broken into while using human shields to open the doors - a practice that is illegal under international law.
Furniture and other private property are routinely destroyed during house searches. Dozens of civilian homes have been occupied. The terrified families are then confined into one or two rooms and have to beg the soldiers for permission to access their own food and toilet facilities. At least three houses have been partly demolished by exploding internal walls and floors.

ISM and other international groups are co-operating with teams of medical volunteers from the Red Crescent, the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees and the Union of Health Work Committees to monitor the situation, check on families in occupied houses and to ensure access to medical treatment, which is denied on a regular basis. Palestinian medical workers and international activists have been shoot at, threatened and intimidated.  Palestinian medical workers without international accompaniment have been beaten and detained on several occasions.

Two international activists of the Project Hope were arrested on Saturday, but later released.  On Sunday, an ISM-activist from Catalan was hit on the head by a sound bomb thrown at her from a window without prior warning.  The sound bomb exploded after hitting the ground and the activist was lucky to escape severe injury.

On Sunday a group of 20 medical workers were hold in an occupied house for several hours. Two ISM activists had their bags containing cameras and other personal items snatched by soldiers.  One of the activists, a US citizen, also had her passport, money and a flight ticket in her bag.  Neither has yet been able to regain their property.   Subsequent phone calls to the US embassy brought the usual response that US citizens in difficulties in Palestine have had to get used to.
"Sorry, there's nothing we can do.  She can file a complaint with the DCO, which'll take a few days.  Have a nice day."
I'm sure we will.  The IOF have just withdrawn from the city.

For more information, contact:

Omar (Arabic) 052 362 199
Kelly (English) 059 355 404
Heidi (English & German) 054 627 918
Frederica (Italian) 067 968 048
Svend (Danish) 065 275 829

3. Lost For Words

With regard to the recent events here in Palestine/ Israel, I don't seem to have any  appropriate words. The suicide bombing in Jerusalem and the military attack in Gaza City were both horrible acts of war that come out of Occupation, Oppression, and Fear.
Abu Holy checkpoint, which separates the northern Gaza Strip from the southern Gaza Strip has been reoccupied by Israeli soldiers.
There are hundreds of tanks amassing outside the Gaza Strip, surrounding the people inside who are already surrounded by a fence, checkpoints. Soon, there will also be a Wall.
Everyone in Rafah seems to be waiting for some imminent catastrophe. In the morning, sitting with Abu Ahmed, he talks about how all the governments of the world are working together.  He says we need someone to destroy them all, so the people can live together in peace. "You are American," he says, "and I am Palestinian, and we are friends. The people need to start working together."
My deepest sorrow goes out for all the children,Israeli and Palestinian that have been killed by the governments. I pray that we can wake up to the beauty of our worldly connections, and begin to work together against Occupation and War.
In Peace,

ISM Media Office. Undod Palesteina. ISM Aberystwyth. Aberystwyth Peace Network
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