Jenin: 'My mother ran for help. A soldier shot her in the head'

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2002 10:24:57 +0100

Abdullah Washai had to watch his 17-year-old brother, Munir, slowly
bleed to death. He took several hours to die. A hole had been ripped in
his shoulder by a round from an Israeli helicopter. 

When the boy's mother, Mariam, ran into the street screaming for help,
Mr Washai says, Israeli soldiers shot her dead. 

These are typical of the claims of those who have managed to escape the
carnage of Jenin refugee camp, the scene of the worst fighting of
Israel's onslaught in the West Bank. 

The question that was facing Israel yesterday was: what will happen when
the full story of what Israel has wreaked in the Jenin camp is revealed?

As the Israeli newspaper Ma'ariv said in an editorial: "We can begin
thinking today about the war after the war: the public relations war in
the media in which Israel can be expected to be placed in the
international defendant's seat, when the television screens around the
world become filled with the spectacle of bodies lined up, destroyed
houses and crying, distraught relatives." 

The Israeli army was claiming last night it had finally taken control of
all but a tiny section of Jenin camp. But the stories that have been
coming out of Jenin for several days have been horrifying, although it
is impossible to verify them because of censorship by the Israeli
authorities, who have denied journalists access to the camp. 

To reach Mr Washai and his grieving brothers, we had to scramble down a
steep, wooded hillside, with the Israeli helicopters clattering
overhead. As friends shuffled past to pay their respects, Mr Washai told
his story, which cannot be confirmed, in the home of a friend who had
taken the family in. 

"My brother was shot on Saturday afternoon," he said. "A helicopter
round came through the wall. It went into his chest and out through the
back of his shoulder. We called for an ambulance, but when it came
outside the Israeli soldiers shot at it. It had to go." 

The International Red Cross has said Israeli authorities have been
refusing to allow ambulances to treat the wounded all over the West
Bank, which is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. 

"Munir bled until 10 o'clock that night," Mr Washai continued. "My
mother went out into the street screaming for help for him. An Israeli
soldier shot her in the head." 

At one point he buried his head in his hands and appeared to have
difficulty going on. He spent two days in the house with the bodies. 

"Then we heard people gathering outside. We went out to try to get an
ambulance, and the soldiers took us. They separated my brothers and me
from my father. We haven't seen him since. As far as we know, the bodies
of my brother and mother are still lying in the camp." 

The soldiers held them for some days at a military camp and interrogated
them. When they released them, they ordered them to go to Ramani, a
Palestinian village near Jenin. 

Yesterday afternoon, an ugly rumour was going around the village, where
Mr Washai and others who have left the camp were told to go. There is no
evidence but the Palestinians were saying bodies were being taken out of
Jenin refugee camp in trucks. 

Nahum Barnea, a well-known Israeli commentator, wrote in Yedioth
Ahronoth yesterday: "A number of discussions were held on this
disturbing issue by military officials. The general conclusion was that
some way has to be found to move the bodies into Israel. If Israel does
not find some way to give them a dignified burial, the bodies will bury

There were other disturbing claims from those in Ramani. Mohammed
al-Sadi told us he was used as a human shield by Israeli soldiers as
they advanced through the camp. 

"The soldiers smashed their way in through my door and started smashing
a hole in the wall of my house so they could get from house to house
without going in the street," Mr al-Sadi told us in the mosque, filled
with refugees. 

"The soldiers made four of us walk in front of their tank as it
advanced. There were two of my cousins and another man. Then they took
us to a house where the soldiers were inside. They put us outside the
front door so if anyone shot we would be shot first." 

Ariel Sharon toured an army base near Jenin refugee camp yesterday. "Our
wonderful soldiers have to be able to continue this struggle," he said. 

However, his Defence Ministry announced late yesterday that troops have
pulled out of the West Bank villages of Yatta and Samua, near Jenin, and
Qabatya, near Hebron. 

*A United Nations agency said yesterday it had protested to Israel about
the arrest of a member of staff and 104 students at a technical training
centre it runs in Ramallah. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency
for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said: "Incursions into
UNRWA installations by Israeli forces and detention of UNRWA trainees
and staff is completely unacceptable and contrary to Israel's
obligations to guarantee the security of UN staff." 

Source:  The Independent

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