Inside ruined Jenin - Death toll yet undetermined

  • From: "Muslim-News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2002 11:06:16 +0100


The scene inside Jenin refugee camp is one of almost complete
devastation - whole blocks of what used to be homes have been laid to
waste by Israeli bulldozers. 

The Israelis who took us there under their armed protection told us it
is still a very dangerous place but that they have managed to succeed in
their operation to root out Islamic extremists - the gunmen who
dominated the streets of Jenin until just a few days ago. 

Many of [the women] told us they still don't know where their men folk
are - whether they were arrested... or whether they have died 

They say that it was absolutely necessary to bulldoze some of the
buildings and insist that the buildings that they have destroyed were
occupied by gunmen and not families. 

It is very difficult for us to verify that given that all our movements
were monitored by the Israelis. 

But there is no disguising the fact that this huge level of destruction
had taken place. 

The women who were on the streets were clearly traumatised - many of
them saying that people had been killed in their homes as the Israeli
bulldozers moved in. 

Agony continues 

On the streets of Jenin we see Israeli tanks, armoured personnel
carriers and troops on the streets - they will stay there for some time.

We also saw Palestinian women - hardly any men. 

The Palestinians who are back there are quite often middle aged women
out on the streets trying to find food, often coming up to us in tears. 

There was a sense of bewilderment as they gave us their account of what
had happened. 

Many of them told us they still don't know where their men folk are.
Whether they were arrested - the Israelis say 500 arrests were made - or
whether they have died. 

So for them the agony goes on. 

Health problems 

There are people still living in the refugee camp. 

We asked an Israeli soldier why some people were back after all the
fighting. And he answered very frankly that the refugees had come back
to their devastated homes simply because they had nowhere else to go. 

Agencies fear diseases such as cholera breaking out 

We have seen broken water mains, water gushing into the streets. 

Health problems are likely to be an issue unless a clean-up operation
starts soon. 

Many international aid agencies are requesting free access to the
refugee camp - what they want to do is find out how best to help the
wounded, what the pressing humanitarian needs might be. 

At the moment though the Israelis are still tightly controlling everyone
who comes in and out - and access has been very limited. 

Huge task 

On the streets of Jenin a curfew is in place. We heard sporadic gunfire,
but in essence and in effect the Israeli military operation there is
pretty much wound up. 

The big question which is impossible to answer at the moment is just how
many people did die in the Palestinian town. 

Israelis put the figure at something like 50 - they base that on the
accounts that their own soldiers have given of the fighting which went
on for the past two weeks or so. 

The Palestinians, though, are still insisting that some 400 people were

From what I've seen it is impossible to verify or contradict either of
those accounts. 

The Red Cross and Red Crescent are at work trying to pick through the
rubble, trying to identify the dead and remove them. But it is going to
be a huge task. 

And if they do not have the assistance and help of people with heavy
lifting equipment then it is going to take days, probably weeks, before
the people of Jenin finally get to learn who is still alive and who has

The Israelis make no apology about this. They say that more than 50% of
the suicide bombers who hit Israel came from this Palestinian town. 

Therefore, they say, it was absolutely essential for them to move in to
root out what they call the infrastructure of terror and they say that
that is effectively what they have done. 

Source:  BBC


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