Trying to get back into Jenin

“We’re going to try to get back into Jenin today. We tried all day yesterday and it was a total nightmare.

“There are 748 here people combined from two towns who have been dumped off.They are dropped off at 200 meters from the checkpoint in their underwear. They are not allowed to go back to Jenin but they’ve been arrested, beaten & tortured and held captive for several days. There’s hundreds of them here. Refugees from a refugee camp.

“The community is taking care of them in these two towns. I asked how are you getting food and they said they are getting a few donations from people in neighboring towns and they’re just sharing what they have. Their main source of supplies is in Jenin and they can’t get there either and of course there’s no telephone service or anything. They still have electricity.

“There are soldiers’ flares going in the night. The Israeli soldiers are walking around in the fields. We’re going to try to get back into Jenin today. There is one checkpoint that we’ve been trying to go through, through a roadblock. And the soldiers have been sitting there since yesterday morning. Early yesterday morning a couple of reporters got through but they got through by making an arrangement with the Israeli soldiers to be escorted in, take pictures and video of what the soldiers showed them to take video of and then they were escorted back out. So actually no real reporters have gotten in as far as we can tell. The other pictures that have been coming out of Jenin are from the Israeli soldiers themselves, who are videotaping whatever they choose and even their reports are horrific and so you know it’s just nothing compared to what’s going on.

“So the towns that i am near are Taiba and Remani, near a place called Sallem checkpoint. when people are arrested at Jenin Refugee Camp, they are beaten and tortured and taken to the checkpoint where they are held for usually about three days without food. One guy told me he asked for water and was given a cup of urine to drink.

“Usually then they are dumped off 200 meters from the checkpoint and the people in these two villages, Ramani and Taiba, come by in a truck and pick them up and bring them into these two towns and take care of them. They’ve got a school set up as basically a refugee center for the refugees that are re-refugees. You can realize how just horrifying that is that people in a refugee camp are refugees again.

“And two villages they feed and cloth them. they have a doctor come in, open the medical office, just a classroom, and they have probably a hundred boxes of different kinds of medecine and then they have piles of jeans and shirts and shoes because the men are dumped off in their underwear, right outside of Sallem checkpoint. And Ramani there’s at least 548 men living there. Here in Taiba there’s 200 as of last night. and each one has a really horrific story to tell…about being dragged from their homes, having their home bulldozed. they don’t know what’s happened to their families. they’re forbidden to return to Jenin and there’s absolutely no communication.

“The mosque in Ramani instead of calling out for prayer it lists the names of the disappeared. and on this school that’s the makeshift refugee center there’s a list of names all the detainees, the new arrivals also to try to keep track of who is there. every day there’s new loads of refugees that get dumped off outside Sallem checkpoint by the Israelis and get rescued by the Palestinians in the town.

“One man he was dumped off unable to walk, he was beaten so severely. he talked of ten soldiers beating him with sticks while he’s in the detention center at the checkpoint, after having been dragged from his home–he did the human shield–having his home bulldozed, being stripped naked to his underwear in the rain and the cold, blindfolded, hands bound, thrown in the back of a jeep and put under the bench of the jeep, and being kicked by the soldiers, and then taken to the woods (because there’s a nearby forest), burned with cigarettes and beaten some more while he heard [U.S.-made, U.S.-supplied] Apache helicopters bombing the camp and the soldiers cheering. [pauses… ]

“And then so he arrived in the detention center at the checkpoint with broken ribs and cigarette burns. And by the time he left the detention center he couldn’t walk from being beaten with sticks by ten Israeli soldiers.

“There’s a 75 year old man who had to take off all his clothes in front of his grown daughters and they had to do the same. They had to stand outside in the square of the camp. and he was dragged off to the detention center he has no idea what happened to his daughters.

“I can’t figure out what’s happened to any of the women. the Red Crescent ambulance driver who for three days was feeding 200 women and children until they ran out of food. So then they left that sort of makeshift medical center where the Red Crescent ambulance driver had been feeding them and he got arrested. They all walked off trying to find food somewhere else and they were stopped. Some of the women were separated from their kids; they had to give up their kids.

“And they were forced to take off their clothes too. And i just don’t i don’t know what’s happening to any of the women. Like, the men are ending up here. well, besides the ones that were killed. Lots and lots of them don’t make it here, who get grabbed and pulled out of Jenin.

“Complete massacre there. The Israelis don’t want us to get in–I mean they don’t want anyone to get in. Some people tried to get into this little town, it’s Taiba. Got turned away two time by Israeli soldiers–they were just trying to get into this town and soldiers said, “well, we’re afraid that you’re actually a group of journalists.” Because they don’t want anybody to document what’s going on in there. And once you get here to Taiba you’re a little closer to Jenin, because you’re back in Palestine.

“There’s one area that’s near here that there’s a possibility of getting in but we tried it all day yesterday and it just… There’s this one little town where the soldiers set up a roadblock and so that’s where we were going to try to get in. So from there I think Jenin is 15 minutes. You can see it.

“But getting from Bethlehem to East Jerusalem, which should take maybe ten minutes or something, took at least 45 minutes because of all the checkpoints, because you have to take these crazy roundabout ways. The Israelis make it impossible for Palestinians to move from town to town.

“Nobody knows what has become of the women in Jenin. And I don’t understand why the international community isn’t all over this, except for that… Maybe because nobody can get in? Maybe people are afraid? I don’t know. But some people are thinking that the intention is to completely raze all of Jenin Refugee Camp. And so once they’ve done that then they’ll let people back in. All evidence will be destroyed. Physical evidence of torture will be gone from the bodies. Somewhat at least. Some people here are thinking they are just going to get rid of it altogether. And so there’ll be no way to even sneak in until after Sunday.

“Dan, will you tell everybody what’s going on? It’s a massacre.”

———- To arrange an interview with a New Yorker acting as an observer in Jenin, please call 011 972 2 056 622 017.

Activists with the International Solidarity Movement who are in Bethlehem’s Azzah refugee camp working in behalf of Palestinian human rights and against the Israeli occupation have released a list of relatives and loved ones in the US who can be contacted by press for interviews:

‘ Joe Gesser: parents, Kate and George Gesser, Eugene Oregon (541) 343-2920 ‘ Jake Mundy: sister, Alethea, Renton, WA (425) 917-9781 ‘ Josina Manu: father, Will Doolittle, Eugene Oregon (541) 343-0441 or (541) 484-9403; Emily Nepon, companion (215) 871-7555 ‘ Jordan Flaherty: parents, Tom and Alicia Flaherty, Amherst MA (413) 253-2783 ‘ Zaid Khalil: brother, Sam Khalil, San Francisco, (415) 637-8894

ISM also encourages journalists seeking news on the activists’ condition and on events in Bethlehem to call Steve Quester at 972-5136-3231.

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