In the following pages a light will be shed on the pictures of tragedy committed by Sharon’s gangs. In Jenin, humanity was squeezed under the chains of tanks, flesh and plants were mixed with iron and dust. What happened in Jenin was stripped out of the so-called human and international laws.
Tens of books will sooner or later appear documenting this vigorous crime, but we will try to shed a light on some statements released by people witnessed the massacre.
Jenin the place and time
Jenin exists on the zone where longitude 35, 18 meets latitude 32, 28, where three environmental areas join the reason why green woods and grasses spread there.
The Canaanites named it “Janim”, while Romans later called it “Jenai”. By the coming of the Arab Muslim conquerors the name was changed to “Jenin”.
As part of the Palestinian history, Jenin had a role in the national struggle starting with the Romans and ending with the Zionist occupation.
It was the firmest base of Palestine’s biggest revolutions before 1948, especially in the revolution of 1935-1936 headed by Eiz Edeen El-Qassam.
In 1799 during the French military campaign on Palestine Napoleon -incited by the heroic positions of Jenin’s people- conflagrated the city and demolished the marble columns of its mosques. In 1938, the British demolished its walls and many houses. A British eyewitness describing what happened to his girlfriend said: “It’s insupportable, a British terrorism worse than terrorism itself. A British civilian like me would not believe it until he sees with his own eyes the consequences of killing a single British cop. The British army blew up about a hundred and fifty houses. What do you think about people shot dead while trying to save themselves isn’t the way of the Nazis?”
In April, 2002 that tragedy of the Thirties has been repeated but this time on the hand of the Israeli army in a way more brutal and inhuman. Jenin like the other Palestinian cities occupied in 1976 had witnessed all kinds of the Israeli inhuman occupational procedures and practiced all kinds of resistance to repulse that occupation. When the Palestinian National Authority was established after Oslo agreement, Jenin looked forward a better future within a Palestinian independent state. But because of the Israeli procrastinations Palestinians revolted declaring the second Intifada. Jenin has been a fortress of steadiness in front of the Israeli aggressions. Israel described it as the fort of the Palestinian terrorism, thus relentless attacks were committed against it using all the kinds of the strategic weapons.
Israel has exploited the situation and atmosphere created after September 11 to intensify its aggression against Palestinians in general and those of Jenin in Particular. Thus, remorseless massacre committed in Jenin in front of the whole world targeted everything even trees and houses, causing many dead and a few wounded, so what does this mean?
Jenin lies on an area of 18,799 square KM, 3,973 square KM are inhabited. According to the census of 1997 it contained 3627 buildings, included 5972 residential unities. In 2001 the population reached the number of 30, 637.
Most of the necessary services are available, that it contains 18 schools for males and females, a library, three gyms, a cultural club, ten humanitarian societies, eleven mosques, a church and four shrines.
Concerning health care, it includes two hospitals, 66 clinics, a fire station, police and other government’s bureaus.
On the land of Jenin, Israel established two illegitimate settlements: Kadeem which was established in 1982 and Janim established in 1983.
Jenin Refugee Camp
In 1953 after the catastrophe of 1948 (Al- Nakba) the UNRWA established the camp on a land of 372 acres (now it extends to about 1000 acres). Jenin Refugee Camp contains those who are originally from Haifa. In 2001, the population estimated to 10, 529, it is expected to increase to 11,536 by 2002.
People in the refugee camp practice different kinds of economic activities that there are 161 private sector establishments contain transformational industries, small workshops, restaurants and shops. The educational services are available so that there are 5 schools for both males and females as well as some clinics can be found.
Casualties of Jenin During Al-Aqsa Intifada:
The following table shows the human casualties as a result of the Israeli aggression 31/05/2002 – 29/09/ 2002.
No Of Killed
Place of Injury
Other Causes of Death
Head & Neck
Chest & Stomach
The initial estimations confirm that the previous statistic is not the final since there are many others (380 people) are still unaccounted. The Israeli forces, during the massacre, transferred the bodies of the dead to be buried away from the refugee camp in order to conceal the evidences of the massacre.
The materialistic and economic losses were huge. In addition to the high percentage of unemployment caused by the Israeli tight siege, about 1240 houses were totally or partially demolished until 26th March 2002. The houses completely swept during the invasion on 9th. April.2002 estimated by a number of international organizations to 800 houses.
Witnesses’ Accounts of the Massacre
Over 140 buildings, most multifamily dwellings, were completely destroyed (green) in Jenin and more than 200 others (red) were seriously damaged. Hawashin district, where more than 100 buildings were razed, is at the center of the map. (source: Human Rights Watch)
“Resistance fighters in Jenin camp drew Israeli soldiers to a booby-trapped building and then blew it up that all of the soldiers were killed, the other Israeli soldiers burst into the place for help were also trapped.”
Nasser Abu Baker- Jenin Refugee Camp- 9th.April.2002
“Heroes of Jenin are creating a real epic, they take the initiative of setting up explosives that killed and injured tens of Israelis soldiers, and they were difficultly evacuated. From here, from the refugee camp of Jenin, I’m telling the Arab armies that tens of Palestinian fighters have been holding up for the eighth day on a thousand square meters land, what if they or some volunteers join us! Israel will be defeated. Heroes of the camp are attacking the Israeli infantry, tanks and military bulldozers sweeping the eastern area. The camp is under a heavy barrage of air bombing, bodies spread in the routes of the camp, there are hundreds of injured can’t be saved or approached by the ambulances since the Israelis bulldozed the area and prevented rescue from getting in to the injured. We are seeing the occupiers (Israeli army) carrying their soldiers’ bodies, the camp is about to be flatten down”.
Jamal Abu Al-Haija, a leader of Hamas- 9th April 2002
“There is a violent bombing in the camp, the tanks are targeting specific spot, and the Apache helicopters are shelling Jamal Abu Al-Haija’s home. The fighters have booby-trapped the narrow alleys. The Israeli resources say that 9 soldiers were wounded, on the other hand, the fighters say that three soldiers were killed and many others were wounded.”
Theib Hurani, a Correspondent – 9th. April. 2002
“The Israeli army is waging a comprehensive attack on Jenin refugee camp; more than 50 bulldozers are heading there. Helicopters are shelling houses, the destruction is everywhere. The attack comes after the Israeli leadership meeting in a military camp near Jenin with the presence of Alaeizer, the defense minister himself. The 15,000 citizens of the camp are critically being endangered that every one his house gets occupied by the Israeli army is thrown out. There are children looking for their parents and families looking for their members”.
Nasser Abu Baker – Correspondent, Jenin – 10th April 2002
“Atta Abu Rumaileh, the leader of Fateh in the camp was not killed or arrested. The Israeli army executed some fighters including Mahmoud Tawalbeh, leader of the Jihad in the camp. Abu Rumaileh got out of the camp to a safe place and I’m now in touch with him. Part of Fateh fighters got safely out of the camp; others were arrested and executed by shooting them in front of everybody. Some are still beleaguered after running out of ammunition demanding to get out on condition of not being executed”.
Abu Mohammed Al-Philistini – A leader of Fateh -10th April. 2002
“As far as I know, the resistance is over. The Israeli army took the dead bodies outside the camp and expelled the other people to the adjacent village of Romana. There were civilians from Jenin refugee camp raised white banners and turned to the city hall. At this moment Israelis are sweeping the whole camp.”
Einas Abu Zeina – a phone call- 10th April 2002
“Apache helicopters are bombing the camp; tanks are erasing its milestones. At 14:30 an apache helicopter bombed a residential area free of any armed people. The bombing was random that two young men were killed. I called the ambulance when my house was bombed and two of my relatives were wounded, they told me that the Israeli army had arrested the paramedics. After calling the firemen, they told me that the Israeli army opened fire at them. Therefore, people volunteered and carried the injured to hospital, one of them died before getting there.”
Dr. Issam Al-Yamouni – 10th. April. 2002
“Now I am in the village of Romana which contains the biggest number of refugees ran from Jenin camp. More than 1000 people left the camp to the adjacent villages. The Israeli army committed a massacre in the camp; anyone stays in his house will be killed since the bombings and bulldozing are randomly continued. Big number of the resistance fighters run out of ammunition, I think Israel is going to eliminate them. In Romana village there is a real chaos, parents have no idea about their sons’ fate, while sons don’t know anything about their parents”.
Nasser Abu Baker – Correspondent- 10th. April. 2002
The second group of the oral statements was collected in the period between 11th April 2002 and 14th April 2002. It is the period the resistance started to collapse and people to be forced out of camp to other villages in order to find more space to eliminate the rest of the resistance pockets. The helicopters never stopped bombing the resistance pockets, flares were launched all over the nights, explosions were loudly heard, and bulldozers continued sweeping houses to widen and uneven routes for tanks. The battle of Jenin seemed to be coming to an end; Israeli soldiers started searching houses. Because of the accumulation of corpses, the Israeli army premeditated to bury them in mass graves or in adjacent cemetery.
A British journalist said: you can hide the bodies but you can’t hide the crime.
“Yesterday, I met hundreds of people from the refugee camp of Jenin scattered in the villages near Jenin. They assured that the camp was almost devastated and the human casualties were too many. It’s an awful massacre…some people were burnt out alive inside their homes. Others were left to bleed until death since ambulances were prevented from getting into the camp and taking them to hospital. I saw a ten-year-old child looking for his family”
Nasser Abu Baker – Correspondent- 11th. April. 2002
“We don’t have anybody killed or injured. Until now, the Israeli forces have not entered the eastern villages of Jenin; they invaded the villages of Sillat Al-Harthya, Yamoun, Kafr Dan and Ta’abak. As an around-the-clock witness, I’ve been seeing the helicopter bombing Jenin and its camp all over the day and night”.
Abu Mashhour – an eyewitness on phone call – 11th April 2002
“The fighting is over in Jenin refugee camp because of the run-out of ammunition. Many were killed, many others were executed in front of people, and some were arrested. The massacres committed in the camp are unprecedented. Those who surrendered to the Israeli army after running out of ammo were cold-bloodedly executed. No one will stretch a hand of peace to the Israelis for at least a hundred years.”
Abu Sami – a leader of Fateh organization – 11th April 2002
“The camps’ residents were forced to leave their homes. They scattered in different directions: in schools, adjacent villages and associations. In the early morning, the Israeli forces had taken out about 3000 people of their houses. Many were left rambling down the streets of the camp which were widened to about 20 meters by the Israeli bulldozers”.
Abu Mohammed – a leader of Fateh organization – 12th April 2002
“We are suffering from the deaf shots and feel worried from the tanks located in the valley of Burqein. The camp has around the clock been being bombed by apache helicopters, tanks and heavy machine guns for the ninth day. We can’t go down street while helicopters are hovering and throwing flare bombs.
Ghassan Abu Zeina – speaking on phone – 12th April 2002
“The Israeli tanks came to the village of Arbouna, but without getting into houses. They wanted to force the people to escape from the village”.
Abu Mashhour – on phone from Arbouna village – 12th April 2002
“Now, they are trying to hide the massacre, that after occupying the camp and declaring it a military restricted area the Israeli tanks started to kill people as revenge from those who fought toughly and to vandalize the public milestones. The Israeli army is demolishing the fighters’ houses, killing and arresting their families and relatives.”
An eyewitness from Jenin – 13th April 2002
“The situation is getting worse…there is a tank located only ten meters from my house in Burqein (near Jenin camp). 15 minutes ago, I heard shooting from inside the camp which is completely sealed. Journalists are not allowed in. Here in Burquein we have been suffering from severe shortage of food supplies for the twelfth day. Three days ago, our neighbor was shot dead when he left the village to get some food. What is the fault of these innocent children? Please doctor (talking to the writer) call the Red Crescent asking for help.” After finishing my phone call with Ghassan Abu Zeina from Burqein I tried to call the Red Crescent hoping that the could render help to those people in Burquein. Unfortunately, they said that they could not do anything. Later, I called the mayor of Jenin Mr. Heidar Arshid asking him the same; he promised to try to send supplies there.
A 23-year-old girl Hanan describes what happened in the first three days of the Israeli attack on Jenin saying: “we had nothing to eat; my sister fainted because of hunger. We almost suffocated of the smokes released from an adjacent burnt house. Sometimes, some fighters sheltered in our place. We were too many so that we finally decided to leave no matter what. Raising white banners with a bunch of women we moved on through the camp. We had to stop when an Israeli sniper opened fire at us, we raised our hands shouting that we were civilians. She said that the Israeli soldiers stopped men and let women go. Halla, Hanan’s sister, said that it was difficult to recognize the camp of Jenin after all this devastation.
Amany (18) who was crying said that she lost every trace of her family without knowing whether they were dead or alive. I am very worried about my brothers who were fighting within the resistance, she said.
Hassan (52) stated that he and his wife stayed in the camp until the sixth day of the events. I saw dead bodies in the streets and tried to bury them, the fighters are among the dead now…the resistance is over, he said.
I was among 90 civilians lead with our hands cuffed and eyes covered to the military base of Salem, citizen Abu Mohammed said. He added that he was beaten and forced to take his clothes off. “They pushed me to stay on my knees with my head dangled to earth and my hands folded behind my back, he said.”
“The Israeli army is continuing to devastate the camp and kill people. Many assured to me that the Israeli forces had executed the leader of the Palestinian police “Abu Jandal” in front of a number of women. I am now in the village of Azpona where 300 refugees are gathering here, they assured that the body of Abu Jandal was left in the camp yard.”
Nasser Abu Baker – Correspondent – 14th April. 2002
“Till now, the Israeli tanks besieged the village of Al-Yamoun. Until the morning there were pockets of resistance that the Israeli killed a fighter castled in a house. It seemed to be a kind of execution. Now there are estimated numbers of emigrants: 700 in the village of Romana, 500 in Seilat Al-Harthya, 1000 in Kafr Dan, 400 in the Humanitarian Society for the Deaf in Jenin and many others in the schools”.
Abu Mashhour – special witness on phone – 14th April. 2002
“The Israeli army took the bodies of the dead by trucks to the area of Al-Jaflak to be buried in mass graves. They conveyed the bodies with houses debris in order to conceal the massacre. Shimon Peres said that there would be a scandal overwhelms Israel when the army leaves Jenin”.
Janine De Geovani, a British journalist- 14th April 2002
“The situation as I see it from Burqein is getting worse. The curfew has never been lifted for the 14th day. Today they burst into our neighbor’s house and transformed it into a military barrack. We have run out of water, electricity is cut off for the 13th day.”
Ghassan Abu Zeina – valley of Burqein – 14th April 2002
“Mr. Khaled Abu Ali from Sabah Al-Khair suburb of Jenin stated that there was no single house in the camp without damages. 80% of houses have been exposed to the Israeli shells and missiles. The Israeli troops had widened the narrow alley, the camp middle yard can be used for a festival with a hundred thousands people. Moreover, in the western neighborhood the smell of the dead bodies is insupportable, he added.
Until now, one cannot talk about specific cases, I tried to ask for people I know but I did not find answers for most of my questions. Only old and dead people were left in the camp. The Israeli army tried to take all civilians out of camp in order to eliminate the fighters. Mr. Khaled Abu Ali, quoting from two girls, said that the Israeli army buried five killed fighters by the bulldozers.
After the Invasion
Vandalizing the Homes
After killing, the Israeli forces called “the snipers” started to burst into houses and destroy their contents. Hassan Abu Na’she’s house was exposed to destruction by the Israeli soldiers who occupied the second floor. Abu Na’she said that his house was a shelter for people who ran from the massacre. Fatheya Abu Na’she said that the Israeli bulldozers demolished a wall of the house rooms. It was only God’s will that saved about 70 people inside the house from death after bulldozing the wall, Fatheya said.
Even the pictures were not left alone. The Israeli soldiers burnt pictures, pictures and children’s toys. They destroyed kitchen contents, blew doors up, killed cattle, vandalized drainage and electricity net and used many electrical sets to shut the doors where their snipers were. Even my sons’ apartments were completely destroyed, Fatheya Abu Na’she said.
Secretary of the Red Cross, individuals from the Red Crescent and I entered the refugee camp of Jenin with the rescue equipment. The Israeli army allowed only a truck and small vehicle to be taken into the camp for rescue. I saw the destruction, I saw the execution of everything alive, I saw the execution of houses, bodies of the dead under the debris, a 60-year-old woman eliminated by a shot in the forehead, four bodies belonged to four old men. The Israeli commander told us that it was only an execution. We took out seven stinking bodies, and when the Israeli army refused to let us to enter the equipment. Since we were not able to do our jobs we agreed with the Red Cross to call for an international committee for salvation”.
Waleed Abu Mous – Mayor of Jenin – 15th April 2002
“I was not with the team entered the camp of Jenin. Our assignment was limited by things accepted by the Israeli army:
– Presenting immediate help for the sick and injured.
– Helping families recognize and bury the bodies of their relatives according to the religious beliefs.
– Evaluation the human needs.
Destruction is not only confined in Jenin, today I went to Hebron and intend to head to Ramallah…the human situation is horrible, it is a disaster”.
Mo’een Qessis – representative of the Red Cross in Jerusalem – 15th April 2002
“I have seen nondescript destruction…demolished houses, no food or water, people exposed to violation, buildings tore down on their inhabitants. Yesterday we were accosted by many people with chronic diseases and demanded us to provide them with medicines. They were afraid of turning to the Israeli soldiers, since they would curse, hit and point gun at them. I wandered for about 5 hours through the camp…there were about 50 bulldozers working at same time in demolishing houses. I was told that about 400-500 missiles dropped on the camp and a big number of dead bodies were through trucks transferred outside the camp or buried under the debris. The Israeli troops as I was told by people dug three big holes and buried the bodies in them as mass graves.”
Mahmoud Abu Turk – A Palestinian photographer – 15th April 2002
“Now I’m standing on the entrance of the camp, it is the place people told me the bodies were taken outside the camp from. I was informed that the Israeli troops were hindering the work of the international organizations. Correspondents from all agencies are now allowed to get into the camp, while the Israeli army is trying as much as possible to hide the bitter truth in order to prevent the scandal.”
Mohammed Barakah – Arab Knesset Member – 15th April 2002
“There are still pockets of resistance in the camp, while talking to you I am hearing the shooting. There are still some fighters determined either to martyr or with honor leave the camp.”
Abu Mashhour – village of Arbona -17th April 2002
“After asking Heider Arshid, deputy mayor of Jenin about the number of the killed, he said that the number was estimated to 150-200. I was also informed that about 100 people returned to the camp while the Israeli tanks were still there. Relief organizations had entered food supplies into the camp as well as they collected 18 corpses as they were appeared on the ground, while many other bodies were still under debris”.
Abu Mashhour – village of Arbona -17th April 2002
“The situation is a little better, the Israeli army pulled back to the entrances of the camp. The Red Cross started to provide people with food supplies, but looking for the killed is not to be taken now since hooks and other equipment were not available. An hour ago, a woman was found alive under the debris and taken outside the camp. The campers were wandering through the streets, not allowed to enter or to leave the camp. When the Israeli army discovered us trying to get into the camp a shower of fires was shot at us”.
Ghassan Abu Zeina – Burqein, near Jenin- 17th April 2002
“The Israeli army is still there in the camp, I didn’t notice any facilities. I with a group of journalists and doctors I entered the camp, we tried to sneak in from the eastern area but fire was opened at us. Inside the camp the condition is disastrous…burnt and demolished houses, some bulldozers sweeping other houses. People in many cases asked us for water, some of them had to drink wasted waters. There is no real withdrawal, through loudspeakers they declared curfew”.
Nasser Abu Baker- Correspondent- 18th April 2002
“Now I am inside the camp, people are trying to take bodies out from under the debris. Peter Hanson with the UN staff has come. There were three international staffs surveying the needs and conditions of the campers. Hanson said that there were a number of bodies being taken from under the ruins by the medical committees. He also said that Israel has violated all Geneva fourth convention and described the place as a living hell confirming that long time will be spent to fix the damages. That is right the relief committees are moving freely throughout the camp, but their possibilities are not up to the amount of destruction.”
“On the second day of entering the camp I still can’t find suitable words to express the tragedy. Peter Hanson, the UNRWA general commissioner, described the situation in the refugee camp by saying: it was extremely awful; it seemed like an earthquake stroke the place. A lot of bodies were buried under the debris, rescue teams are scattered everywhere digging heaps and debris out, children looking for their families, human limbs protruding through the dust and debris, house which were not blown up were toppling”.
Sami Musha’ashea, spokesman of the UNRWA- 18th April 2002
“Today, between 10 am and 2 pm the curfew was lifted…we don’t hear any shooting or tank engines although they are still close within the diameter of the camp. People with their own hands, axes and shovels are digging looking for the bodies”.
Kamal Abu Zeina- Jenin – 18th April 2002
“I am in the middle of Jenin refugee camp checking the place with the others. We entered two adjacent homes and found four dead bodies. Some houses were totally destroyed, while some others were partially damaged. I saw a corpse half buried in the debris. Apparently, those bodies belonged to civilians. There are about 500 damaged and destroyed houses. Some houses contain corpses; one can realize this through the released stinking smell.”
Fadel Masharq- a citizen from Jenin- 18th April 2002
“I am now in the middle of the camp. Today some explosions echoed all over Jenin. At the moment people are picking out the bodies from the debris. Director of Jenin hospital said that the rescue groups had saved the life of 16 people after spending a long time under the ruins. People are looking for their families among the destruction. There are a lot of missing people who were possibly arrested by the Israeli forces or got killed under the fallen debris”.
Nasser Abu Baker – Correspondent – 9th April 2002
“William Burns, the US assistant secretary of state, visited today the camp and expressed a lot of resentment and astonishment. Many Arab doctors and journalists from inside the green line (Israel) brought trucks carrying food, medical supplies and blankets. They participated in looking for the dead. These rescue operations may need a long time to be finished as long as nothing is available but modest tools and possibilities. There is only a single bulldozer belongs to Jenin municipality help in removing the debris, while the Red Cross work is confined in providing people with food and water.”
Nasser Abu Baker – Correspondent – 20th April 2002
“Curfew has been lifted since yesterday; tanks are 2 KM away from the camp. Today I went to Jenin and classified house damages as follows:
Houses were flattened.
Houses were bombed by burning missiles still stand.
Houses were partially or completely destroyed by missiles.
Houses were damaged either by bulldozers or tanks.
Houses were damaged by machine guns bullets.
Concisely, it is seldom to find a full intact house. According to my estimations, houses which were completely flattened down to earth were about 120.
Ghassan Abu Zeina – Burqein- message on phone- 20th April 2002
“People left the refugee camp during the fight, and after the invasion according to the army commands the other were forced out of the camp. Part of people from the camp were arrested and kept in the concentration camps, while others were released. Moreover, there is a number of missing individuals. A man from Burqein donated a piece of land for people can find a place to bury the killed. After wrapping bodies with coffins or plastic bags they were all buried as groups in several holes. The scene of burial was unforgettable. During the operation of looking for the dead a blasting bomb exploded. Furthermore, there were bombs exploded in people’s houses when they tried to get in. Therefore, it is demanding that serious measures be taken to disclose the places of these exploding objects. The public services are no longer existed, everything is devastated. Among the buildings damaged or destroyed there were: the central building of FOAD, shops, a pharmacy, office of the medical services and some mosques”.
Ghassan Abu Zeina – a message on phone – 20th April 2002
“Nobody from adjacent villages had entered the camp. Anyone tried to do so was exposed to the Israeli shooting. At the same time, the Israeli army invaded other villages and destroyed the crops and uproots the fruitful trees.”
Abu Mashhour – village of Arbona -Jenin- 21st April 2002
The battle of Jenin was resembled to the other battles in which Palestinian fighters with modest possibilities challenged highly sophisticated armies. The battle of “Al-Karama” in 1968, the Israeli invasion to Lebanon in 1982, in these battles the Palestinian resistance proved a strong will and steadiness backed by the deep faith of the Palestinian right.
Wijdan, to BBC news, said: “we were intensively exposed to a heavy bombing by apache helicopters. After that, the Israeli soldiers had burst into the camp, but they had to seek shelter in homes after they have been exposed by a solid resistance.
She added that it was not easy to the Israeli soldiers to go down street, so they broke in the houses and started to open fire. In the first phase of the attack the soldiers premeditated to set houses on fire before leaving them.
She added: “Women and children were not called to leave, and when men surrendered they were taken away after cuffing their hands and covering their eyes. Later, the Israeli soldiers occupied the roof of my house. They treated us so bad, they cursed and violated us. On Wednesday, they allowed us to leave the house”.
Riyad Tameesh to BBC news: “I have just seen 13 boys being led with their hands folded and eyes covered by two Israeli soldiers in front of them and a tank behind while fight was taking place. There were some Israeli soldiers throwing grenades on houses, but I do now know whether those hoses were inhabited of not. I saw with my own eyes Israeli trucks taking the bodies outside the camp”.
Halla Abu Rmeillah (32) said to BBC news: that she were with her husband (he was killed later) and 3 children at home when the bombing started. We turned to the kitchen thinking it was the safest place at home which was under heavy bombing. She added that she had to check the rest of the house, but she was shocked of the big amount of destruction in the house.
Ahmed Farraj (70) described his experience by saying that he and his family had to seek a shelter in the bed room considering it safer than the other ones. After three days I asked them to leave the house, the only thing I was thinking of was saving them, he said. He stayed at home while his wife and daughters empty-handedly left the house for some relatives outside Jenin camp. I waited alone for 24 hours, but eventually I had to leave the house for a safer place when I saw the Israeli military bulldozers heading towards me, he added. Some people told him that his son was killed, some one saw his body, while his other son appeared few days later. I will ask people if they saw her (his wife) and my daughters…I am a dead man, but I still have part of my family to look after, sadly said. Answering a question whether he is going to rebuild his house he said: how do you want me to rebuild it? I lost all of what I had, I don’t have any money for that. While talking to Ahmed Farraj another old man slowly approached. He was also alone, doesn’t know any thing about his family who left the house which was demolished by the Israeli army. Israeli children go to schools, play and swim…but this is our sea (pointing to the debris), all cases have solution except ours, the old man indignantly said. ( Al-Quds Newspaper 22nd. April.2002)
Mohammed Bllas lost his brother by an explosive bullet (dumdum) in the chest. His mother was also killed when she rushed out of the house after being told about her son. Mohammed said: “there was only the smell of death and devastation. The camp was exposed to real atrocities by the Israeli occupation army. There were a lot of women looking for their families, others were miserably sitting among the remnants of their demolished houses. Hundreds of people were looking for a temporary shelter, the bulldozers swept complete neighborhoods. (Al-Ayyam Newspaper 22nd. April. 2002)
Mohammed Al-Hindi while sitting among the debris of his house decorated by Palestinian flags said: ” Such massacres previously happened in Sabra and Shatilla (Lebanon 1982) and no one was punished. So, I don’t expect any thing from this committee (the UN Facts Finding Committee)”. (Al-Quds Newspaper 27th. April. 2002)
Father of Najeeb Huweil who was previously killed in the massacre said: “What have Palestinians done to be chased by successive catastrophes? I have been suffering since I and every Palestinian was born…we accepted the unjust peace, but the occupation never left us alone”. Strolling among the already-set-up tents he angrily said: ” the same fate which we faced in 1948 was repeated in 2002…the question now is that until when and what is our next destination?”. (Al-Quds Newspaper 28th. April. 2002)
Here is a testimony of a nurse about the execution of Citizen Munther Al-Hajj on the step of hospital. Nurse Samar Qartawii said: “while working at hospital I heard some one shouting that someone downstairs was seriously wounded. Some doctors and I rushed down stairs for help, but we were prevented from doing that. The Israeli soldiers opened fire at us when we insisted on taking the injured young man inside the hospital. He was with his body full-stained by blood moaning of pain. We, from a distance, asked him to creep till he gets to us, but he had wounds in hands and legs. We raised white banners in order to be able to get to him, but the soldiers were so tough until he died”.
Sana Al-Sa’adi from Jenin refugee camp narrates how her husband was killed after 5-month-marriage. She with tears rolling on her face said: “We were imprisoned in our rooms the whole day and night, the bombing was continuous, we were not able even to get to the bathroom or kitchen. In the middle of the consternating moments we heard a violent knocking on the door. There were soldiers behind it shouting at us to open it or they would blow it up by explosives. They opened fire at the door and blew it up. More than 60 soldiers burst into the house pointing their gun barrels at us; we were only women, children and old people”. She added: they violently and roughly ordered us to raise our hands, then took us out of the house and started searching it. After that they put us all in a single small room and threatened us of being killed if any body moved.
Sana continued telling what happened, at the same time there were another force breaking in our neighbor’s house. My husband was there, he previously sneaked out to join our neighbor in watching the news, she said. My husband and neighbor were violently led to be sat in an alley between our house and our neighbor’s. At the small room there were about 50 women and children. The Israeli soldiers, after searching us, locked us in by tying the door with a rope, she added.
Time move so slowly inside that room, children wanted to eat, drink or go to the bathroom. Therefore, we started to yell at the soldiers to take us out. A soldier came with his gun pointed at us and brandished us of a tough punishment if we continued our demands. We told him that children need to drink, but he ignored us, Sana added.
Suddenly, we heard shootings around the house…we turned so afraid thinking that it was at the men squeezed between the two houses, including my husband. I was so worried that my husband was hurt…unfortunately, this was what happened; the Israeli soldiers opened fire at my husband and the other men, Sana sadly spoke.
Sana’s neighbor, Fathy Al-Shalaby completed the parts of the story: After being taken out of the house by the soldiers (refers to himself, his son and Abdul Kareem “Sana’s husband” ) we were pushed down to the ground to be searched. Suddenly after finishing searching us, they at random opened fire at three of us. I’ve seen death with my own eyes…both of my son and Sana’s husband were immediately killed, I got some shots in the back and neck, Fathy said.
After stopping talking to wipe his tears Fathy completed telling the rest of what really happened: Wadah, my son didn’t move then…while soldiers were yelling “we’ve killed them”. I thought it would be rash if I ask for help, they would finish me…I was sure my son and neighbor were already dead. Trying to hold my breaths and tears I pretended to be dead, while a soldier came closer and checked my son and neighbor assuring to his colleagues that they were already dead, I fled to my house when I made sure that soldiers had left the area, Fathy added.
Sana said that the two bodies were left outdoors for three days. We didn’t know what happened. When the soldiers came again they ordered us to leave the whole area or they were going to blow up our houses over us. We had to get out, but we got shocked when we saw the two bodies. I screeched, I wanted to rush to my husband’s dead body, but the soldiers with their gun points aimed to us prevented us from getting to the body. In front of the tanks we were all with our hearts blown of sadness led ouside the camp, Sana with tears in her eyes added.
After the Israelis had withdrawn, Sana rushed to the camp…but she discovered that her husband’s body was moved to hospital. Because the body was deformed she was forbidden to hug her husband for the last time. Fathy’s constitution was critical for he lost a lot of blood, but he was taken to hospital at the last moment. (Al-Hayya Al-Jadida Newspaper 4th May 2002)
The Crime of Executing Abu Jandal (a senior resistance activist)
Hind Owais was among the few people who closely witnessed the Israeli occupation soldiers executing the senior resistance activist Abu Jandal. She said that while hiding in the shop with their neighbors they heard the Israeli soldiers shouting at someone to stop. He stopped, and after making sure that he didn’t have any explosive belts or guns they folded his hands and cold-bloodedly he was shot. After the withdrawal we made sure that the one who was executed was Abu Jandal himself, the Israelis deformed his face in order to conceal the crime, Hind Owais said.
Citizen Amina Abu Al-Rab has confirmed the story of Hind Owais. She said that Abu Jandal was at her house the day he was killed. After having dinner with the other resistance activists he left the house asking me to pray God for him, he was real hero wanted martyrdom and eventually got it, She said. She added, when we were informed that he was killed I rushed to the place, finding him dead with blood coagulated on his face and with his hands folded. He had two shots, one in the forehead and the other in the face.
The Israeli Army Used Citizens as Human Shields
Kamel Tawalbeh (43): “On the fourth day of fight, the Israeli soldiers broke into my house; the tanks bombed the downstairs where my 13 children were. They threatened me of killing a child of mine every 5 minutes. They led me and my 13-year-old son to a home in the camp where they stopped us in front of the windows and started to shoot from behind us. The resistance fighters realized that the Israeli soldiers used us as human shields so that they stopped shooting”.
Fissal Abu Seriya (42): “My daughter woke me up at 4 in the dawn telling me that the Israeli soldiers were besieging the house. Suddenly, they followed by a trained do broke into the house. On the next day, they took me to my neighbor’s house pledging that they would leave me after ten minutes. They withheld me for a week using me in many cases as a human shield, or as using my shoulder as a stilt for their M-16 rifles”. ( Al-Haya Newspaper 1st. May. 2002).
Wijdan Abu Sneina to BBC: “The Israeli soldiers in the first phase of attack used to set the houses they leave on fire so that fire extended to other houses. Women kept away while men after cuffing their hands and covering their eyes where taken to an unknown place”.
Khaled AL-Hajj to Islam On Line network: “What is happening is indescribable, it is more than a massacre. The camp is witnessing a real war between the resistance fighters and the Israeli army. The Israelis broke in the house by tanks and destroyed all the infrastructure, destroyed everything that came in their way. In addition, the bombing from tanks and apache gun ships continued for the whole day and night”.
Testimonies of the Detainees:
Issam Owaidha (26) describing his experience in Ofar concentration camp: “on the fourth day of the Israeli invasion of Ramallah, the Israelis stormed into the building were I was existed and arrested me. They folded my hands and tightened a bandage on my eyes and ordered me and the others to lie down on our stomach for four hours. No one was able to raise his head or he would be beaten or cursed with erotic words. After that, they squeezed us in a truck and moved to Ofar concentration camp where we left outdoors in a severe cold, rain and muddy land…I stayed there for ten days without any charge”.
Hisham Abu Al-Hassan (38) from Al-Beireh, Ramallah was also withheld in the same concentration camp said: “After being kept in a severe cold for two days, I was taken to the investigators. They asked very provocative and illogical questions, and threatened me of hard punishments if I lied. Later, they took us to some kind of containers full of punctures through which wind and rain severely got in. Probably, it was a place for the military vehicles.
Mohammed Abu Amsha (19) from Nablus said: ” I had a very hard time, they first violently hit me, prevented me from wearing my clothes and tortured me and the other guys in the concentration camps through beating and being exposed to the severe cold. Food was so few that a number of detainees shared an amount of food enough only for a single individual. Water was seldom, there was no hot water, and even the cold one was barely brought”.
Abdul-Halim Abu El-Ola (65) from Jenin said: “The Israeli soldiers stormed into my house, intimidated my sons, and destroyed the furniture. After releasing their anger at the house contents they wanted to arrest me. One of the soldier asked why to arrest such an old man like me…but eventually they decided to arrest me saying that the old generation was responsible for teaching young Palestinians how to be ” rebellious suicide terrorists”. The conditions of arresting were so bitter; the severe cold had a serious effect on my weak body”.
Khalil Abu Hamdi (70) from Ramallah said: “The Israeli troops burst into his house in order to arrest my two sons who were not there then. Vindictively, they lashed down on the house contents. They finally decided to arrest me as a revengeful act since my sons were not arrested. The conditions in Ofra concentration camp were awful; the severe cold and rough treatment deteriorated my physical constitution”.