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Amid Israeli attack, tales of abuse

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General Kitrey says Palestinian militants "have chosen deliberately the environment of civilian neighborhoods" to conduct their battles against Israeli soldiers. But civilians who have fled the camp say it is Israel that has moved beyond the pale in prosecuting what its leaders describe as a war on terror.

There is no way to corroborate the accounts now emerging from the Jenin refugee camp, in part because Israel continues to bar foreign journalists from the area, as well as from many other parts of the West Bank. Yesterday scores of reporters and television crews sought entry to Jenin, only to be turned away at Israeli checkpoints ringing the area.

Difficult to observe

Some who made it into the town were detained, and others found it nearly impossible to work in a situation where they feared arrest or worse. Michael Keating, a UN official who entered the town and was denied entry to the refugee camp, said by telephone that Jenin "is pretty smashed up – it's much worse than Ramallah."

That city, the cultural and economic hub of the West Bank, has been occupied by Israel soldiers since March 29. Israeli forces control most of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat's Ramallah headquarters.

Mr. Keating said UN and other humanitarian organizations were hearing reports of "a very traumatized population" in the Jenin refugee camp. That term aptly describes Ms. Nijmi, who fled the camp Wednesday afternoon and came to stay in Burqin.

Nijmi said the Palestinian cause had suffered another 200 "martyrs" in the camp. Israel estimates the Palestinian death toll at about 100.

In Israel's reckoning, the Palestinian dead are terrorists who have been killed resisting the advance of Israeli troops. Nijmi couldn't account for the 200, but said she and other bystanders witnessed Israeli troops executing five unarmed young men on Wednesday morning.

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