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First hand account of Jenin

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18 June, 2002 1:20 PM local time.

Greetings from Jenin, occupied Palestine!

First, a few business items:

1) It appears that a hacker may have entered this account & sent out an opinion piece: something about terrorism, 9-11, etc. If you have received this, please know it wasn't from me.

2) The I'm getting overwhelmed with requests to join my mailing list, which is great but, being a seat of my pants activist in a warzi\one, I don't have the time to do all the administrative cutting & pasting to maintain zuch a list. If anyone with basic email skills would like to volunteer for a few hours, that would be great.

The following dispatch is public domain, please copy and forward as appropraite.

Palestine Report #6. By Dan Fortson

Jenin is a study in contradiction. Perhaps the hardest hit area in occupied Palestine, the damage is everywhere, yet the residents show an unequalled spirit of resistance & determination.

You have probably seen pictures of the destroyed homes & the huge swath cut by the bulldozers in the middle of the camp. Infrastructure, roads, & especially water have been severly disrupted. The local economy is crippled, all the schools are closed, yet people find the will to keep going.

I've heard that it was reported in Ha A'rtz, an Israeli newspaper, that the man responsible for running the bulldozer was having family problems & was drunk when he went on his 18 hour wrecking spree. Whatever the case, the damage is inexcusable.

Upon arriving here on Sunday I heard yet another tragic story of senseless waste of human life: a six year old boy was bitten by a scorpion & rushed by ambulance to the hospital. The ambulance was stopped at a checkpoint and, despite continuous pleas by the crew, was detained for more than six hours before finally being allowed to pass. The boy made it to the hospital but the poison had advanced beyond return. He died a few hours later.

Upon hearing this story, I & two colleagues from Iceland went to the Red Crescent office to offer our services as escorts & human shields. At least one of us is on duty at all times &, if needed, we hope to use our international standing to negotiate the safe passage of ambulances on critical missions as provided for by international law. It's a long shot, especially given Israel's flagrant disregard for international law, but we have to try. We owe them that much at least.

Meanwhile, Israeli aggression has changed form somewhat. Now it's mostly psychological terrorism. THey send a few tanks or helicoptors several times each day or night to fire only a few rounds, then leave. Each time though, the residents must respond as though it will be a full scale attack. Heart rates climb, business activity stops, children scream, & everyone heads for cover.

Regarding the chackpoints, my trip to palestine has exposed many myths of the illegal occupation. One of which is the myth that the hundreds of checkpoints set up by the Israeli occupational army have something to do with security. It's a lie. THey don't check identification against a database, they rarely search bags, & except for recreational harrassment, they don't even question travelers. As evidence of lax security, three friends of mine walked unchallenged into an Israeli army camp, took photos of an illegal fence under construction, met & chatted with soldiers, then left without incident. A few hours later there was a suicide bombing at a similar camp killing one soldier.

I have more work to do in the refugee camp & will keep you posted as things progress.

Best wishes,


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