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October 2000 - Return to Complete Index      MiddleEast.Org         10/12/00
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MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 10/12 - 8:30 AM:

Israeli tanks, artillery, and gunships are preparing at this time to seige the major Palestinian city of Ramallah, just north of Jerusalem.  Pleas are coming from Palestinians by email and phone to do something to prevent what they fear will be a massacre.  The following brief comments explain the use of Israeli "Death Squads", further explaining Palestinian attitudes toward the captured Israeli soldiers.  The other articles that follow give the context of what has been happening to the Palestinians and why tensions are so extraordinary high.


"The continuos human rights violations  of the belligerent Israeli
Occupation Forces proves that they persist to continue their aggressive
attacks against the Palestinian civilians. They, as well as the Jewish
settlers, continue to shoot at the Palestinian civilians. In this
context, the Undercover Units of the Israeli Occupation Forces have been
involved heavily in the recent wave of the Israeli aggression against
the Palestinians. The Undercover Units were formed, for the first time,
during the Intifada (1987-1994). These Units constitute the (Death
Squads) of the Israeli army. They disguise themselves as Palestinians
and enter Palestinian areas to kill Palestinians.

Today, a group of the Israeli Undercover Units/ Death Squads entered
the city of Ramallah in the West Bank to kill Palestinians. Two of
them were killed in the city. The circumstances of the incidence are
not clear yet. In such a situation, there is a very high possibility
that the Israelis, either soldiers or settlers or both, will try to
take revenge, which can take the form of massive massacres."

                                   A FIRSTHAND ACCOUNT

                                                By Samah Jabr
October 11:
 Because of the conflict in Palestine, my family and I, living within the area Israelis deem
 Jerusalem's environs, are under imposed curfew. We cannot leave the house at night and in
 some curfews, not in the day either. Even if one of us becomes violently ill, we cannot go out
 to summon a physician or go to a hospital. If we need milk from the store, we have to wait.
 Jerusalem is as silent at night as the famous Christmas song, "Silent Night, Holy Night."
 Only in our case, the holy part is somehow missing.

 A few days ago, everyone in my family was immersed in work: Dad and my sister were
 reading, Mother and my brother in the kitchen and I editing material I wanted to submit for
 publication. Suddenly, we heard a cry from outside. It was one of our neighbors calling out
 like a Palestinian Paul Revere, America's famous nightrider warning that the "British are
 coming." "Settlers in Dahiat Al Bareed. Citizens be careful," our neighbor shouted out in

 Settlers are as varied as people anywhere, but most believe fully in their right to be in the
 Holy Land. They have come, some tell us, in order to fulfill God's command that all the
 righteous, especially, all the righteous Jews, live in the Holy Land to prepare the way for the
 coming of God or God's acts of salvation. I have heard it said that none of us can find our
 way to the rapture of God until all the righteous have settled in and around Jerusalem. There
 are no earthly, secular laws that supercede God's injunctions. The Holy Land, say the
 Zionists, belongs to God, and they, the Jewish settlers, have come to claim what God has

 Neve Yaqoub, translated in English as Prophet Jacob, is the settlement nearest our home. The
 night of the attack was dark without shadows, but we peered into the night from our
 windows trying to see. We could only hear shooting and shouting in Hebrew: "Mavet
 Learaveem"-Death for Arabs. Mom came from the kitchen and commanded us with a calming
 voice. "Get away from the windows," she said. We dared not disobey. Instead of watching,
 we hustled around turning off our lights.

 From the nearby mosque, we heard a voice on the loud speaker. It was not the usual call to
 prayer that we are accustomed to hearing five times a day. This Arabic speaker told us to
 gather stones and glass for defense and to stay in our homes with the lights out.

 Outside our compound, we heard the rustle of kids gathering stones. A positive in this horror
 is that the kids actually cleaned up the area. Here in Jerusalem, where the Israeli municipality
 services are limited to Jewish neighborhoods, it is our custom to gather stones that clutter our
 byways and put them away. Families have been after their boys to do this for months, but
 asking our kids to clean up the streets is like asking American kids to take out the garbage.
 Somehow, the chores don't always get done. Now, like teenagers anywhere, they rise to the
 task. It is exciting; there is danger, but the youths of our village cannot imagine that anything
 will really happen to them.

 Later ignoring our mom's command, we snuck to our windows to see what was going on. An
 elderly neighbor, supposedly ill and unable to ever leave her room, was outside gathering
 stones with the kids. We nudged each other and chuckled at the sight. Mom did not think it
 was funny.

 But, our sense of humor quickly passed as the shouts and gunfire got closer and closer.
 Settlers near Bidia had killed a colleague from Al-Najah University in Nablus a few days
 earlier. We had all seen the televised report of the two-year-old Sara killed in the current
 uprising in Salfeet. Jewish settlers ransacked my grandfather's olive orchard in Kifel-Hares,
 down Beit Eil Settlement, during this current Israeli initiated conflict and many of our trees
 were burned to the ground.

 Settlers never come in the day. Like the fox to a barnyard, they sneak in at night. They come
 fully armed and often with Israeli soldiers. The noise we make sometimes seems our only
 defense. If they do not kill our people, they destroy property and terrorize our children.
 Even without Israeli imposed curfews, few Arab people leave their homes at night. People
 stop work around 3 or 4 p.m. in order to be home and in the house by dark. Towns like
 Hebron, Salfeet, Bir-Zeit, Sufat and Beit-Hanina are like ghost towns after 6 p.m. It is
 unheard of to have any kind of party at night. Social life in most of Palestine is virtually
 non-existent in the evenings. I didn't really know that until I went to America and Britain and
 experienced after-work-relaxation. Away from Palestine, I could stop at the gym and exercise
 after a day in the lab. I went to TGIF parties, "thank-God-it's-Friday" events. I attended a
 "shower," as the Americans call it, for a friend having a baby. All these events occurred at
 night in a relaxed atmosphere I had never experienced. Here, I unbend over a good dinner
 cooked by my brother, but there I could extend my life into the community and get to know
 people beyond my immediate family. Here, we all fear the night. Forty-year- old Issam
 Joudeh was kidnapped just a night or so ago from his home near Ramallah, a town 15 miles
 north of Jerusalem. Severely beaten and tortured, he was then set on fire and, finally, when
 his agony ended and he lay still, the settler-gang riddled him with bullets--an act of pure
 hatred from people who claim to be God's righteous and God's chosen people.

 During the settlers' attack on us, my father was the most distressed. Pacing, he finally took
 some analgesics and anti-hypertensive medication. Even my easy-going brother looked pale.
 To ease the tension, my sister and I began to chide him. "Go hide in the closet," said my
 sister. "No, no," I added, "you're too big for the closet. Get under the bed."

 Mother was effective. She sat with her grandchildren and, by candlelight, read them a story.
 Until the shouts came very close to our home, my nephew and niece did not know what was
 going on. We do not want them to be aware of the oppression leveled against us. Like the
 Jewish character in the recent movie, "Life is Beautiful," we try to shield our children from
 the realities of hate.

 As, the shooting and shouting came closer to our house, the streetlights went out. We then
 sat on the floor in the dark for about four hours. Some of the British I had met during my
 rotation in London had told me about their air raids during WWII and how afraid they had
 been. Now, I could apply their stories to my own situation.

 Finally, we heard one of our Christian neighbors calling out "Help," he yelled, "the settlers
 are in the mosque with their fire." Then, he began to chant our Islamic prayer, "Allahu
 Akbar," God is great. That our neighbor and friend had gone out on his roof gave us courage
 and we, like everyone in our crowded neighborhood, went to our door. Our friend's chant
 resounded and people up and down the road began to croon with him, "Allahu Akbar." As
 our chanting rose into the night, the settlers began shooting in our direction, leaving the
 mosque behind. Some of the boys threw stones into the night, but most of us went back
 inside when we thought our place of prayer was safe.

 About two a.m., the shooting and shouting stopped as suddenly as it started. Had our
 chanting and stone throwing frightened the settlers or was it finally their bedtime? Did they
 imagine that it was 1948 and that we Palestinians would flee in horror as many of our people
 did then? Were they Holocaust survivors or is the Nazi still well and alive in them?

 We went to the streets to make sure no one was hurt. A call from the mosque's loudspeaker
 reassured us that this attack was over. We went to bed wondering when such outrage would
 occur again. Such is peace among God's people in the Holy Land.

 (Samah Jabr is a freelance journalist and ,medical student living in Jerusalem.

                               JEWISH SETTLERS ACCUSED IN GRISLY

                                                 by Hisham Abdallah

 RAMALLAH, West Bank, Oct 9 (AFP) - Palestinians accused Jewish settlers Monday of
 torturing and murdering a West Bank man in the latest in a disturbing wave of attacks by Israeli
 civilians against Palestinians and other Arabs.

 Issam Joudeh Hamad, 38, was killed overnight and his body dumped near the West Bank town
 of Ramallah, becoming one more victim of more than a week of Israeli-Palestinian violence that
 has claimed the lives of almost 100 people.

 Hospital sources said Hamad had been shot, his skull and several bones smashed and his body
 scarred with cigarette burns, but earlier reports from eyewitnesses that his eyes had been ripped
 out could not be confirmed.

 A Fatah official from Hamad's village of Um Safaa, Hisham Abu Myriam, said the man was
 driving near his home when he was arrested by Israeli soldiers and then whisked away to the
 nearby settlement of Hallamish.

 His body was found the day after in a field not far from the settlement.

 The Israeli army said however that Hamad was killed in a car accident.

 Colonel Gal Hirsh, military commander for the central region that covers the West Bank, told
 AFP, "He was driving very fast and his car rolled over a few times."

 "Yesterday was Yom Kippur (the holiest day in the Jewish calendar) and my forces did not
 move at all," Hirsh said. "I condemn what the Palestinians are doing with this story, using it to
 try to set fire" to the situation.

 Palestinians say Jewish settlers have committed numerous acts of vandalism and harassment in
 parts of the West Bank and in the Arab districts of Jerusalem.

 "They are waging criminal acts against our citizens and the Israeli government must act
 immediately to bring them to an end," Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat told reporters in Gaza.

 Mustapha Bargouthi of the Palestinian Medical Relief Committee said there had been 35 attacks
 by settlers against Palestinians in the past few days, but did not elaborate.

 "We are facing a campaign by settlers in the full view and knowledge of the Israeli army and the
 government," he said.

 Palestinian human rights group LAW said settlers, often armed with firearms, had been attacking
 Palestinians and their property over the past two days.

 "This has often occurred in sight of the Israeli army," LAW said, adding that it considered the
 shooting of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers had "opened the door" for settlers to add to the

 Members of Israel's Arab population -- Palestinians who remained after the creation of the
 Jewish state in 1948 -- complain too that they are subjected to attacks by both Israeli civilians
 and police.

 Arab Israeli MP Azmi Bishara called for UN chief Kofi Annan to intervene to stem an
 "escalation of violence" against the nation's Arab minority after a rampage by a mob of young
 Jews against Arab residents of Nazareth.

 The attacks left two Arab Israelis dead and many more wounded.

 "Since the commencement of what has come to be known as the al-Aqsa intifada we have been
 living in a grave state of danger," Bishara said in a letter to Annan, due in the region later in a bid
 to quell the bloody unrest.

 "Since the Israeli authorities are unable to offer us protection, but rather are the perpetrators of
 the violence directed against us, I see no choice but to ask you to meet with us and call upon the
 international community to intervene on our behalf,' said Bishara.

 Twelve Arab Israelis have been killed, most in violent clashes with police as they demonstrated
 against the fighting in the West Bank and Gaza Strip sparked by a visit by Israeli opposition
 leader Ariel Sharon to a disputed holy site in Jerusalem.

 Israeli Jews have attacked Arab citizens, burning business establishments, descrating a mosque in
 the Galilee and stoning the home of Bishara himself in Nazareth, the MP said.

 Israeli peace group Gush Shalom charged that the two killed in the overnight attacks in Nazareth
 were victims of a "pogrom" by a mob of 1,000 Jews.

 "The police stood aside and did not interfere, but when inhabitants of Nazareth rushed to defend
 themselves the police attacked them -- first with tear gas and later with live ammunition," the
 group said in a statement.

 At the funeral of the men Monday several Arabs were injured in renewed clashes with the police.

 On Sunday, the chief rabbi of Israel's Ashkenazi Jews, Israel Lau, condemned the wave of
 attacks against the Arabs, saying: "It is impermissible for people to take justice into their own
 hands and mistreat Arabs."

                    ORDINARY MONSTERS

                          by Hani Shukrallah

Al-Ahram (Egypt) - October 11, 2000
The 20-something soldier first notices the huddled
father and child fleetingly, his attention as yet
focused on the source of intermittent rifle fire from
a handful of Palestinian security men. And as
fleetingly, an impression registers in the soldier's
mind, almost subliminally at first; he has seen the
look of terror on their faces: the child's panic,
baffled and uncomprehending -- for, like all children,
he is yet unresigned to the monstrous cruelty of which
human beings are capable. He is afraid of being hurt,
afraid of his father being hurt and knowing how
inadequate he is in providing help, afraid most of
all, perhaps, of finding himself alone in the midst of
the madness, bereft of his father's protection. A
single thought dominates the father's fear: he wants
his little boy safely home, unhurt.

The impression grows gradually in the young soldier's
mind. He takes other brief glances at the two,
recognising the desperate desire underlying their
terror, of seeing this over, of somehow coming out of
it all safe and unhurt -- each in his own mind,
wishing the two of them home, seeing them with his
mind's eye surrounded by family members, recounting
their encounter with danger -- in the past tense.

It's fun playing god, however. And as if that singular
horror was not enough, we know from eye-witness
testimony that it was not just one 20-something
soldier who was playing, but a whole bunch of them --
a regular turkey-shoot, insistently targeting an
unarmed father and his little boy. So insistent that
even the ambulance-man who tried to come to their help
is shot dead.

Which of the two did each of the young soldiers decide
to aim at first, one wonders; the father -- to see,
however briefly, helplessness and utter terror seize
the little boy in their grip? Or the son, for the
satisfaction of registering, however momentarily, the
man's unbearable grief, his loss and shame at having
failed in the prime task of a parent, to protect his
child? In short bursts, the automatic rifles unload
bloodshed. Twelve-year-old Mohamed Jamal Al-Dorra lay
dead; a new batch of nameless monsters had been born.

It couldn't have happened that way, some will no doubt
protest. It's crossfire, unintended and
unpremeditated, they will assert. Some, despite all
the evidence, will even hold on to the farcical
official Israeli claim that the fire that injured the
father and killed the son came from the Palestinian
side. Not, mind you, that Israel's much-boasted
military machine is supposed to be incapable of
hurting Palestinian children. Not even the most
zealous Israeli propagandist can make such a claim,
however much he banks on the good will of Israel's
many powerful friends in the world media. Israel's
killing of children should not be so graphically
illustrated, however. The victims should remain, as
much as possible, faceless numbers. They're Arabs,
after all, faceless numbers almost by definition.

It may not have happened exactly that way. But it damn
well could have. A few short weeks ago, a number of
Israeli soldiers were disciplined for brutally beating
three Palestinian workers as they were trying to pass
through an Israeli border checkpoint. The beatings
were totally unprovoked. The soldiers concluded their
brutal extravaganza by forcing the Palestinian workers
to lie on the ground -- all at gunpoint, naturally --
and taking snapshots of each other pressing their
boots on the prone Palestinian workers' faces. It
couldn't have happened that way? Well, it did. This
story at least was fully acknowledged by the Israeli

What does it take to transform a human being into a
monster -- not a freak, the Son of Sam or Jack the
Ripper, but an ordinary everyday monster, with family
and friends, someone who enjoys jazz, perhaps, fusses
over how he takes his coffee and likes to go dancing
on a weekend?

But then, what does it take to occupy a family's home
and land, consign its members to destitution and
humiliation in a refugee camp, and feel not a twinge
of guilt that maybe something in all of this is wrong?
What does it take to bulldoze homes, enjoy the pool
and the sprinkler-sodden yard of your settlement
house, while the people whose land this used to be
just a very short while ago go thirsty? What does it
take to break children's arms, to humiliate, abuse,
dispossess and constantly beat into the ground a whole
people for over 50 years? It takes as much as it took
for a young soldier to aim at a frightened child and,
unmoved by his terror, even thrilled by it, to pull
the trigger.

Monsters, ordinary or extraordinary, are not short on
rationalisation or self-justification: 'Given the
chance, they'd do the same to us; they want to throw
us into the sea; we've suffered the horrors of the
holocaust; this is our historic land...'

None of this provides an explanation, however, because
what it really takes is a relationship of oppression,
the arrogance of unchecked power and the profound,
dehumanising contempt in which the oppressor holds
those he oppresses. It is this that ultimately defines
and creates humanity's ordinary monsters. And,
strangely, the monsters are not beyond redemption:
they can be humanised, paradoxically, not by the
submission of the oppressed but by the growing
strength of their resistance. Look at the US's African
Americans, South Africa's blacks, Vietnam. Look at
Palestine, in a few years' time.

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