Living in terror
The Israelis are stepping up the terror campaign against the Palestinians. Anne Gwynne*
from Nablus monitors the horrors from a personal perspective
Whilst we were regaled hourly with the details of the retaliation in Tel Aviv on 19 January, I couldn't help wondering where all the English-language journalists have been this year. For, since New Year's Eve in Palestine, there have been not one, but hundreds of Israeli attacks on the civilian Palestinian population. Perhaps, after reading this summary, you will understand the impulse to retaliate -- 19 January's one -- man gesture can not in any way compare with the state terror visited upon Palestine by Israel.
Since New Year's Eve the "Israeli" military, IOF, have continued with their relentless attacks on men, women and children in every refugee camp, village and city north of Ramallah and around Hebron in the south; these attacks follow more than 22,000 Israeli violations of the Sharm El-Sheikh ceasefire logged up to 31 December 2005 and more than 33,000 Israeli airborne strikes since 29 September, 2000.
In the continuing Israeli violence this month 584 innocent people have been murdered, arrested and wounded -- 19 of them killed, including a mother and son in Nablus and a small child in Jenin, adding to the 4,670 Palestinians killed by "Israelis" in this Intifada. Amongst the wounded,who include over 100 children, is a wholefamily of seven, augmenting the total of more than 50,000 Palestinians wounded since 2000. Amongst the captured, a large number of abducted children swells the prisoners' total to 9,200 Palestinians, and increases by 367; the number of children already in Israeli prisons. And, of course, this adds yet more to the 700,000-plus arrested by the IOF since the occupation in 1967. If the tiny Palestinian population is pro- rated with the large US population, the equivalent number of arrested since 1967 is 63,000,000 -- no error in the zeros. Sixty- three million, an inconceivable figure anywhere else.
Since the New Year more than 30 homes have been occupied, each by up to 30 IOF soldiers, with their occupants held hostage, as many as20-30 locked into a single room, some for the past 18 days. Assuming a family average of seven, that is 210 hostages (US pro-rate figure is 18,900 hostages).The object of this terror -- and terror it is, I can assure you for it always happens at one or two in the morning and, while it is not difficult to be brave in the daylight, your knees turn to jelly and your legs refuse to obey when you are awoken by what everyone here describes as "a savage beating" of guns on your door -- is to turn the roofs into gun emplacements and to act as billets for the marauding IOF. So I do feel that we should ask the journalists from the UK and US who live in West Jerusalem why they have not reported this.
There is more. On this violent rampage through the land since New Year's Eve, the IOF have damaged or destroyed almost 200 homes, businesses, police stations and schools, augmenting the five-year total of more than 71,470 homes, 645 public buildings and 316 schools. In the process they have stormed cities and villages on 60 occasions, under cover of air and machine-gun fire, sealing 10 of them (among them Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm, Qalqiliya) under total lockdown -- no access or exit for anyone or anything.
Since the New Year, the IOF have subjected the civilian populace to more than 100 missile strikes, F16 air-strikes and heavy machine- gunning -- a machine gun is not an M16 which is an assault rifle. A machine-gun is so heavy that it has to be mounted on armour, helicopters or gun-emplacements; its long barrel fires 50 calibre bullets, almost small missiles themselves, at great speed and pin- point accuracy. Go into any gun shop in the US and have a look at these 50 calibre bullets to see what the IOF fire at men, women and children.
The IOF were not unaided, for the so-called "settlers" (actually illegal immigrants or colonists) have continued to vent their hatred on the rightful owners of the land in an orgy of destruction, attacking Hebron city centre as well as many villages, torching and bulldozing 32 businesses, 12 greenhouses, poisoning six wells and killing 600 fruitful olive trees, adding to the total of 1,355,290 already bulldozed (this in an area the size of Rhode Island). Most of these trees are of great antiquity -- indeed they are the stock from which European and US olives are grown. A family can live on the produce of 20 olive trees, which Palestinians regard as a gift from God, and they can live very well indeed if they have 40 of them.
The denial of human Rights of all kinds this month, so widespread as to be uncountable, includes -- freedom of movement, access to medical treatment, access to education and access for ambulances (as well as attacks on them), as well as general denial of movement to the electoral candidates who encounter hourly refusals at the 750 or so IOF road blocks and checkpoints. These are the same checkpoints where people wait hours in the freezing rain just to get home, with many hundreds being forced to strip off all their clothes -- a most gratuitously cruel humiliation for anyone. All Palestinians have to cross these checkpoints to reach any location outside their immediate village.
In addition to all this destruction, since New Year the IOF and the colonists have either directly stolen (the farmers brutally dispossessed) or"confiscated" (stolen by state decree) another 4,700 dunums of fertile land, both for the construction of the apartheid wall and for colony expansion in contravention of every agreement Israel has ever signed. During the past five years colonists and the IOF have bulldozed 76,867 dunums. I don't have the figures for confiscations -- but only six per cent of "Historic Palestine" now remains while almost half a million illegals are living on, and farming, the confiscated land of 16,195 farmers.
This brief account is, I know, almost too much to comprehend -- just imagine what it is like living in this terror.
* The writer is an elected member of the International Federation of Journalists and the National Union of Journalists, Britain.