The Guardian October 4, 2000


Israeli terrorism: stop the bloodbath!

by Monica Tarazi

I wrote this last night when I got home from Jerusalem. It's neither clever 
nor analytical. But it's what I saw. And what I saw was heartbreaking.

I was with a group of Palestinians from Haifa and its surrounding area. We 
were there for a conference which was cancelled because of the "incidents" 
as the conference organisers put it with ironic understatement. We decided 
to venture into Jerusalem and go to the Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem 
to donate blood.

I bumped into L., a German girl who lives and works at the Lutheran 
hospital down the street from the Makassed.

"This has been going on all night", she told me. "They (the soldiers) came 
into the hospital last night and were shooting inside ... we had several 
boys die in here."

We finally reached the Makassed. We could hear shooting. The Israeli 
occupation forces were apparently getting bored just standing there and 
decided to take things up a notch.

More shots, and an ambulance zoomed past sirens wailing.

We were greeted at the hospital by an official looking man who guided us up 
the stairs to rooms where the injured were being treated.

A 25 year-old-man shot in the head ... another young man shot in the hand. 
The room after that housed a man who had been shot in the stomach. "It's 
not good to be shot in the stomach", said our guide.

Downstairs it was worse ... a 13-year-old girl shot in the stomach. A man 
shot in the head. Another had been shot in the heart. They didn't think he 
would last the night. I stopped listening after that.

All the while, we could hear the sirens screaming and we could still hear 
the shooting.

This time the ambulance was a white service taxi van. Out came a girl about 
14 years. I guessed she was suffering from tear gas inhalation. Then 
another, and another. Five ambulances in the 20 minutes we were there.

By this point I was shaking. Adrenalin, stimulated by horror and rage, was 
attacking my legs and arms. I felt weak. I was selfishly relieved when we 
were told that the outpouring of donations from the local community meant 
they had no room for our blood.

We talked to Dr Khalid, Director of the hospital. He smiled warmly at us 
and welcomed us warmly. It's nice to see '48 Palestinians here in the West 
Bank. No, we are not the '48 Palestinians. We have always been here. "They 
are the Jews of '48", explained one of our group.

We asked him about the casualties. "High velocity bullets", he said in 
English. He told us the Israelis have no respect for ambulances, that they 
shoot at them and won't let them help or transport people.

We finished our coffee and went outside for our bus. We watched the boys 
throwing stones and the soldiers staring back at them.

Suddenly all the Palestinians, about 200 in all, started running. We 
realised the soldiers had formed a line and were running towards us, their 
guns raised and shooting wildly in our direction.

Lots of gunfire. Terrified youths raced past us. We ducked back into the 
hospital compound. My whole body shook in fury and fear.

Half of me wanted to run for cover. The other half, the part of me that was 
furious at the brutality of the soldiers and exploding with rage at the 
injustice of the situation, wanted to go out and join the shabab, wanted to 
pick up stones and hurl them at the animals shooting at us ... shooting at 
us because Palestinian youths have the audacity to demand their freedom, 
the gall to remind the world that they are human beings too with rights and 
pride and the desperation to risk everything in the pursuit of justice.

I didn't join them though. I cowered behind the gate until it seemed calmer 
and the youths started to return. We just resumed our places when the 
soldiers started attacking again.

Our bus was outside but the gunfire was too heavy to reach it and, anyway, 
our driver was smarter than we were  he was nowhere to be found.

The youths were still there, the soldiers were still there but the shooting 
paused long enough for us to get to the bus and drive away. In three 
minutes we were at the Garden of Gethsemeny.

Tourists were giggling as they chatted to each other and marvelled at the 
buildings and the trees. I fought the urge to get out of the bus and shake 
them.

I wanted to shout: "Don't you realise that they are KILLING teenagers less 
than 1km from here? Don't you care about anything but old stones and 
buildings?

Of course I didn't say that at all. I watched silently from the bus and 
listened to the radio ... clashes in Jerusalem, Ramallah, Nablus, Hebron, 
Gaza ... an ambulance worker shot in the head  ... a child of 14 shot dead 
in front of his father as they tried in vain to shelter themselves from the 
soldier's fire ... another child killed in Gaza ... another in Nablus.

A 16-year-old in Ramallah. They were firing on demonstrators from 
helicopters and armoured tanks in Gaza ...

And then I realised that I hadn't seem a single Western journalist all day. 
I wondered where they were and cursed them for their absence. I cursed the 
soldiers for their brutality and I cursed the Israeli Government for 
putting them there and the world for not caring.

Maybe one day I will decide whether they are convinced by their own 
pathetic excuses, whether they are motivated by anything besides pure, 
unadulterated evil.

Maybe eventually I will know if Israel honestly thinks that in oppressing 
and brutalising a civilian population, a people whose gravest crime is to 
exist at all, they are serving the interests of peace. Maybe, maybe not.

This weekend is the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah. Israel brought in the 
New Year by killing Palestinians. Start as you mean to continue. And they 
call this peace.

(This eyewitness account received by email has been substantially abridged 
for reasons of space.)

Stop the blood bath

The bloodbath follows the deliberate government supported provocative 
invasion of Al-Haram Al-Sharif which houses the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome 
of the Rock  the Al-Aqsa Mosque being the third most holy Muslim 
sanctuary.

Head of the General Palestinian Delegation to Australia Ali Kazak reports 
that Prime Minister Ehud Barak sent in 3000 heavily-armed soldiers with 
Likud opposition leader Ariel Sharon into the Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, 
"despite his full awareness of the dangerous consequences of this 
provocation and the Palestinian leadership's warning and call on Barak not 
to support and encourage Jewish extremism and the escalation of the 
conflict which would have devastating results for everyone".

In its aggression against unarmed civilians, Israel is using helicopters, 
tanks, 500mm machine guns which are normally used against armoured 
vehicles, "Lao" rockets, live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets and 
the internationally-prohibited dumdum bullets which explode after entering 
the body.

A statement issued by the Israeli Communist Forum "demands that the Israeli 
Government immediately stop the bloodbath [in which] dozens of Palestinians 
have been killed and hundreds wounded, among them a 12-year-old boy, who 
was cold-bloodedly murdered by bullets shot by Israeli occupation forces.

"We demand that the government immediately stop the killings and murders 
which are the most severe ones in the occupied territories for years.

"We express our deepest sympathy to the heroic Palestinian people in face 
of the murderous onslaught of the Israeli occupation authorities. We 
condemn also the US administration which did not use its influence in order 
to put an end to the bloodbath.

"The sole way to end the bloody vicious circle is, first of all, to stop 
the murderous onslaught upon the Palestinian people and to go for a truly 
just peace, based upon withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Palestinian 
territories, including from Eastern Jerusalem, and the establishment of an 
independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, including Eastern Jerusalem 
and the Gaza strip alongside Israel in its pre-1967 borders."

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