Dorothy Online Newsletter


Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem
Chair of West Midland PSC

Dear All,

Tonight’s message contains 7 items, one of which (6) is quite long but is required reading to put into perspective 7.  Will explain as we come to them.

Item 1 is interesting news, and would seem to suggest that internationally Israel has lost much of its former charm.  A poll rates Israel down at near bottom of countries that are viewed positively.  In other words, Israel is today one of the most negatively viewed countries in the world.  Read on—the data about how Americans conceive Israel is most important.  It gives some glimmer of hope.

Item 3 informs us that the Israel will demolish 6 ‘illegal’ outposts.  The report however is slanted.  It informs us that there have been many more demolitions of illegal settler homes than of illegal Palestinian ones, but neglects to mention that Palestinians do not receive building permits.  They therefore have the choice to never add a room, porch, and any other part to their home or to add and risk having it demolished.  For young couples it means deciding never to build a home or building one and having it demolished.  Many Palestinian villagers’ homes are threatened with demolition.  The residents have been informed.  The bulldozers could come at any time of the day or night.  The fact that the demolitions do not immediately occur after notification does not mean that some day they won’t occur.

Item 3 tells us about a new nonviolent initiative born in Facebook of how to spread the “free Palestine” motto.

Item 4 is one last word to McEwan, and item 5 is a final note on Roger Waters, including a link to his interview on Al Jazeera—about 25 minutes, worth listening to if you have time.

Item 6 is a copy of a report that appeared in the Independent on April 22, 2002, written about Jenin following the IOF departure from Jenin.  It is an important document, even an essential one, in order to realize how wrong are the 5 soldiers who claim that Mohammad Bakri in his movie ‘Jenin Jenin’ misrepresented what occurred.  As I have recently said, I was there a week after the army pulled out.  It was one of the most traumatic experiences that I have had.  Item 6 helps explain why.

After you read the Independent’s report, then you are better prepared to read the report on the trial.  The movie is not about the soldiers.  It is about the impact on individuals of the refugee camp of what happened to them and how life looks to them—a husband who lost his wife, a 10 year old girl, and so on.  There is even some humor in it, when people laugh at themselves.  A lie, it is not!



1.  Haaretz,

March 07, 2011

Israel grouped with Iran, North Korea as world’s least popular countries

BBC poll surveying 27 countries shows that Israel is viewed as having a negative influence in the world; negative opinions in U.S. and U.K. increased over past year.

By Haaretz Service

Tags: Israel news

A poll conducted by the BBC revealed Tuesday that Israel is one of the most negatively viewed countries in the world, ranking at the bottom of the chart along with Iran, North Korea and Pakistan.

In 2011, 22 out of 27 countries leaned toward a negative view of Israel, headed by Egypt, Turkey, and Indonesia. The countries which had the most positive view of Israel were the United States, Russia, Ghana, and China.

Participants were asked in a questionnaire, “Please tell me if you think each of the following countries is having a mainly positive or mainly negative influence in the world,” giving the options “mainly positive, mainly negative, depends” and “neutral.”

The order of popularity of the 16 countries, based on 27 countries that were surveyed, was Germany, UK, Japan, Canada, France, U.S., Brazil, China, South Africa, India, South Korea, Russia, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea, and Iran.

Despite Israel’s extremely low ranking, it has actually made a slight improvement in its world standing since 2010, and a more significant improvement since 2007. According to the poll, positive views of Israel increased by 2% while negative views remained mostly same as in 2010.

However, while positive ratings by the U.S. have remained stable in the poll since 2010 at about 43%, many more Americans chose to rate Israel negatively in 2011, marking an increase of 10% since 2010.

Moreover, negative perceptions of Israel grew stronger in Britain, Canada, Indonesia, Australia, Portugal, Spain, and Kenya.


2.    Ynetnews,

March 07, 2011

Illegal outpost Photo: Dudi Vaaknin

State: Only 30% of illegal settlement structures razed

In response to Peace Now petition, State Prosecutor’s Office tells High Court it will work to demolish illegal West Bank structures built on private land by end of the year,7340,L-4038892,00.html

Aviad Glickman

The State Prosecutor’s Office on Monday filed its response to a Peace Now petition to the High Court of Justice, which demands the razing of six structures in West Bank settlements.

The state’s response to Peace Now says it has given orders “to remove illegal structures built on private land by the end of the year”.

Just 30% of the 1,569 illegal structures that have been built in Jewish settlements and outposts over the past three years have been destroyed, the state’s response says, while less than 13% have been razed in Palestinian villages.

The prosecution stressed in its response that construction and destruction in the West Bank are controversial issues and that the government must weigh all relevant considerations when it implements its policy.

This policy affects priorities in law enforcement in the region, it stated, adding that structures are razed according to the order devised by Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

First to be implemented are demolition orders based on court decisions, second are orders for construction still in its initial phases, third are structures on land owned privately by Palestinians, and fourth are structures built on land whose status is unclear.

The prosecution said a significant part of the Civil Administration’s activity in the West Bank is geared towards thwarting attempts to set up new outposts.

In its response, the state said demolition orders implemented in the West Bank over the past two years indicate that the rate of illegal construction in the Palestinian sector is significantly higher than in the Israeli sector.

According to the state, last month Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Barak and a number of other cabinet members decided that illegal structures built on private land would be removed.

As for structures mentioned in the petition which were not built on private land, the state said they would be discussed at a later date.


3.  Ynet,

March 07, 2011

Facebook protest: ‘Free Palestine’ on NIS

Facebook group calls on members to promote peaceful protest by writing ‘Free Palestine’ on all forms of Israeli currency. Founders hope Netanyahu ‘gets the message’,7340,L-4038561,00.html

Elior Levy

Will new form of protest promote Palestinian state? A new group was recently created on Facebook calling for the independence of the Palestinian people using an original concept – writing the words ‘Free Palestine’ on Israeli currency notes. The New Israeli Shekel (NIS) is the official currency in the Palestinian Authority and it circulates between Israel and the PA.

Talking to Ynet, group founder Salah Barghouti discussed the initiative. “We were sitting and thinking of how we can voice our protest in a non-violent way and then the idea came up to write a clear short message on the notes.”

The notes – getting support from India and Finland

He stressed that the protest was only to be carried out by way of peaceful means. “Our goal is that these currency notes reach Israeli politicians and even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, so that they get the message.”

Barghouti noted that they were looking for a short phrase that wouldn’t sound extreme. Yet he still doubts whether the Bank of Israel would be pleased to hear about the initiative.

Barghouti and his friend Amad Abu-Sumeia claim that this is a simple, creative, innovative and non-violent method of spreading Palestinian protest. They are pleading with people who have joined the group on Facebook to protest actively.

The group received an overwhelming response on Facebook. Most of the comments are supportive of the idea and people have promised to implement it.

A group member from India said that if he found any Shekels he would write the message on them. While a group member from Finland commented that the idea was excellent but it was a shame that there weren’t any Shekels to be found in his country.


4.  HomeAbout.omaralqattan

Otherwise Occupied

March 6, 2011 by omaralqattan

Otherwise Occupied (Guardian Review, March 5 2011)

Ian McEwan (“In place of concrete”, 26 February) seems to suggest that we should give Israel star points for moral questioning, even while it continues to commit war crimes. He refers to the Jerusalem prize, which he accepted despite the pleas of his admirers and colleagues, as a “tribute to a precious tradition of democracy of ideas in Israel”, giving the example of a novella about the destruction of a Palestinian village that was required reading in Israeli schools. He fails to mention, however, that while this precious tradition was maintained, so were the expulsions, military rule, house demolitions, confiscation of land and homes, bombing of refugee camps and so on. He then conjures the amazing number of patents Israel registers and its scientific breakthroughs, but seems unaware that this is no miracle at all. It is the least one would expect from 3 billion dollars in US military aid every year; hundreds of Soviet-trained scientists, privileged access to the west’s university research communities and venture capital funds . . . This is no “tradition” – it is the result of a highly rational colonial project. McEwan should at least have had the decency to compare the astonishing achievements of Palestinian artists who have moved the world with their work, with a fraction of the support available to their Israeli counterparts.

Above all, though, McEwan makes a very lame argument about the struggle of (mostly Israeli) creativity with “nihilism”. It seems that this nihilism is something both Hamas and Israel are guilty of, though we are not really sure what it entails. And here is the fundamental problem: Hamas may indeed be guilty of rash and “nihilistic” behaviour so common among the weak and oppressed (which I utterly condemn), but can the extraordinarily well planned, funded and defended Israeli plans to colonise what remains of historic Palestine be described as nihilistic? Illegal, criminal, the last gasp of a colonial overreach yes, but surely not nihilistic. If only McEwan had the intellectual honesty not to tiptoe around the issue and called a spade a spade, then perhaps he could have made a little difference in the fight against the Israeli occupation, the only cause of this conflict, rather than contributing to the Israeli establishment’s illusions about itself, writers, scientists, generals et al.

Omar Al-Qattan

(This is McEwan’s original piece, published in last week’s review: )


5.  Ynet,

March 07, 2011

Waters. ‘Really concerned’ Photo: Merav Yudilovitch

Roger Waters: Join Israel boycott,7340,L-4038466,00.html

(Video) In al-Jazeera interview, Pink Floyd frontman slams Jewish state for ‘paying lip service to the idea that they want to make peace while throwing people out of their homes and quietly annexing the land’

News agencies

Speaking in an interview to al-Jazeera’s Riz Kahn, Waters revealed that he had written an op-ed piece on the situation in the Middle East, which would be published “in either the New York Times or the Guardian, and it’s actually me calling upon my fellow musicians and artists to join the BDS campaign against Israel because I’ve finally just decided to put my head above the parapet and say enough is enough.”

[Roger Water’s full interview with Riz Khan about 25 minutes.  Worth your time if you have some. Dorothy]

He said the Israelis “pay lip service to the idea that they want to make peace with the Palestinians, and they sort of talk around the possibility of a two-state solution, but in the meantime they’re throwing people out of their homes in the Negev, in east Jerusalem. They’re annexing huge parts of the West Bank. So all this talk is they’re quietly getting on with taking over the whole of the land, and what happens then to the Palestinians?

“And I’m really concerned about that, as was my father, interestingly enough. My father taught at St. George’s School in Jerusalem from 1936 to 1938 and was very concerned even then, before the war, before the Holocaust, before all of that, about what was going on in Palestine. He died fighting the Germans in 1944.”


6.  The Independent

25 April 2002

Once Upon a Time in Jenin [a copy of the article in the Independent]

What really happened when Israeli forces went into Jenin?

Just as the world is giving up hope of learning the truth,

Justin Huggler and Phil Reeves of the UK’s The Independent

have unearthed compelling evidence of an atrocity.

The thought was as unshakable as the stench wafting from the ruins. Was this really about counterterrorism? Was it revenge? Or was it an episode — the nastiest so far — in a long war by Ariel Sharon, the staunch opponent of the Oslo accords, to establish Israel’s presence in the West Bank as permanent, and force the Palestinians into final submission?

A neighbourhood had been reduced to a moonscape, pulverised under the tracks of bulldozers and tanks. A maze of cinder-block houses, home to about 800 Palestinian families, had disappeared. What was left — the piles of broken concrete and scattered belongings — reeked.

The rubble in Jenin reeked, literally, of rotting human corpses, buried underneath. But it also gave off the whiff of wrongdoing, of an army and a government that had lost its bearings. “This is horrifying beyond belief,” said the United Nations’ Middle East envoy, Terje Roed-Larsen, as he gazed at the scene. He called it a “blot that will forever live on the history of the state of Israel” — a remark for which he was to be vilified by Israelis. Even the painstakingly careful United States envoy, William Burns, was unusually outspoken as he trudged across the ruins. “It’s obvious that what happened in Jenin refugee camp has caused enormous suffering for thousands of innocent Palestinian civilians,” he said.

The Israeli army insists that its devastating invasion of the refugee camp in Jenin earlier this month was intended to root out the infrastructure of the Palestinian militias, particularly the authors of an increasingly vicious series of suicide attacks on Israelis. It now says the dead were mostly fighters. And, as always — although its daily behaviour in the occupied territories contradicts this claim — it insists that it did everything possible to protect civilians.

But The Independent has unearthed a different story. We have found that, while the Israeli operation clearly dealt a devastating blow to the militant organisations in the short term, at least — nearly half of the Palestinian dead who have been identified so far were civilians, including women, children and the elderly. They died amid a ruthless and brutal Israeli operation, in which many individual atrocities occurred, and which Israel is seeking to hide by launching a massive propaganda drive.

The assault on Jenin refugee camp by Israel’s armed forces began early on 3 April. One week earlier, 30 miles to the west in the Israeli coastal town of Netanya, a Hamas suicide bomber had walked into a hotel and blown up a roomful of people as they were sitting down to celebrate the Passover feast. This horrific slaughter on one of the holiest days in the Jewish calendar killed 28 people, young and old, making it the worst Palestinian attack of the intifada, a singularly evil moment even by the standards of the long conflict between the two peoples.

Ariel Sharon, Israel’s premier, and his ministers responded by activating a plan that had long lain on his desk. Operation Defensive Shield was to become the largest military offensive by Israel since the 1967 war. Jenin refugee camp was high on the list of targets. Home to about 13,000 people, it was the heartland of violent resistance to Israel’s 35-year occupation.

The graffiti-covered walls bellowed the slogans of Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad; radical Islamists and secular nationalists worked side by side, burying differences in the name of the intifada. According to Israel, 23 suicide bombers had come out of the camp, which was a centre for bomb-making. Yet there were also many, many civilians. People such as Atiya Rumeleh, Afaf Desuqi and Ahmad Hamduni.

The army was expecting a swift victory. It had overwhelming superiority of arms — 1,000 infantrymen, mostly reservists, accompanied by Merkava tanks, armoured vehicles, bulldozers and Cobra helicopters, armed with missiles and heavy machine guns. Ranged against this force were about 200 Palestinians, with members of the militias Hamas, al-Aqsa brigades and Islamic Jihad — fighting alongside Yasser Arafat’s security forces, mostly armed with Kalashnikovs and explosives.

The fight put up by the Palestinians shocked the soldiers. Eight days after entering, the Israeli army finally prevailed, but at a heavy price. Twenty-three soldiers were killed, 13 of them wiped out by an ambush, and an unknown number of Palestinians died. And a large residential area — 400m by 500m lay utterly devastated; scenes that the Israeli authorities knew at once would outrage the world as soon as they hit the TV screens. “We were not expecting them to fight so well,” said one exhausted-looking Israeli reservist as he packed up to head home. Journalists and humanitarian workers were kept away for five more days while the Israeli army cleaned up the area, after the serious fighting ended on 10 April.

The Independent spent five days conducting long, detailed interviews of survivors among the ruins of the refugee camp, accompanied by Peter Bouckaert, a senior researcher for the Human Rights Watch organisation. Many of the interviews were conducted in buildings that were on the verge of collapse, in living rooms where one entire wall had been ripped off by the bulldozers and that were open to the street.

An alarming picture has emerged of what took place. So far, 50 of the dead have been identified. The Independent has a list of names. Palestinians were happy, even proud, to tell us which of the dead were fighters for Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aqsa brigades; which belonged to their security forces; and which were civilians. They identified nearly half as civilians.

Not all the civilians were cut down in crossfire. Some, according to eyewitness accounts, were deliberately targeted by Israeli forces. Sami Abu Sba’a told us how his 65-year-old father, Mohammed Abu Sba’a, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers after he warned the driver of an approaching bulldozer that his house was packed with families sheltering from the fighting. The bulldozer turned back, said Mr Abu Sba’a — but his father was almost immediately shot in the chest where he stood.

Israeli troops also shot dead a Palestinian nurse as she tried to help a wounded man. Hani Rumeleh, a 19-year-old civilian, had been shot as he tried to look out of his front door. Fadwa Jamma, a nurse staying with her sister in a house nearby, heard Hani’s screaming and came to help. Her sister, Rufaida Damaj, who also ran to help, was wounded but survived. From her bed in Jenin hospital, she told us what happened.

“We were woken at 3.30 in the morning by a big explosion,” she said. “I heard that one guy was wounded outside our house. So my sister and I went to do our duty and to help the guy and give him first aid. There were some guys from the resistance outside and we had to ask them before we moved anywhere. I told them that my sister was a nurse, I asked them to let us go to the wounded.

“Before I had finished talking to the guys the Israelis started shooting. I got a bullet in my leg and I fell down and broke my knee. My sister tried to come and help me. I told her, ‘I’m wounded.’ She said, ‘I’m wounded too.’ She had been shot in the side of her abdomen. Then they shot her again in the heart. I asked where she was wounded but she didn’t answer, she made a terrible sound and tried to breathe three times.”

Ms Jamma was wearing a white nurse’s uniform clearly marked with a red crescent, the emblem of Palestinian medical workers, when the soldiers shot her. Ms Damaj said the soldiers could clearly see the women because they were standing under a bright light, and could hear their cries for help because they were “very near”. As Ms Damaj shouted to the Palestinian fighters to get help, the Israeli soldiers fired again: a second bullet went up through her leg into her chest.

Eventually an ambulance was allowed through to rescue Ms Damaj. Her sister was already dead. It was to be one of the last times an ambulance was allowed near the wounded in Jenin camp until after the battle ended. Hani Rumeleh was taken to hospital, but he was dead. For his stepmother, however, the tragedy had only just begun; the next day, her 44-year-old husband Atiya, also a civilian, was killed.

As she told his story, her orphaned children clung to her side. “There was shooting all around the house. At about 5pm I went to check the building. I told my husband two bombs had come into the house. He went to check. After two minutes he called me to come, but he was having difficulty calling. I went with the children. He was still standing. In my life I’ve never seen the way he looked at me. He said, ‘I’m wounded’, and started bleeding from his mouth and nose. The children started crying, and he fell down. I asked him what happened but he couldn’t talk.

“His eyes went to the children. He looked at them one by one. Then he looked at me. Then all his body was shaking. When I looked, there was a bullet in his head. I tried to call an ambulance, I was screaming for anybody to call an ambulance. One came but it was sent back by the Israelis.”

It was Thursday 4 April, and the blockade against recovering the wounded had begun. With the fighting raging outside, Ms Rumeleh could not go out of the house to fetch help. Eventually she made a rope out of headscarves and lowered her seven-year-old son Mohammed out of the back window to go and seek help. The family, fearful of being shot if they ventured out, were trapped indoors with the body for a week.

A few doors away, we heard the story of Afaf Desuqi. Her sister, Aysha, told us how the 52-year-old woman was killed when the Israeli soldiers detonated a mine to blow the door of her house open. Ms Desuqi had heard the soldiers coming and gone to open the door. She showed us the remains of the mine, a large metal cylinder. The family screamed for an ambulance, but none was allowed through.

Ismehan Murad, another neighbour, told us the soldiers had been using her as a human shield when they blew the front door off the Desuqi house. They came to the young woman’s house first, and ordered her to go ahead of them, so that they would not be fired on.

Jamal Feyed died after being buried alive in the rubble. His uncle, Saeb Feyed, told us that 37-year-old Jamal was mentally and physically disabled, and could not walk. The family had already moved him from house to house to avoid the fighting. When Mr Feyed saw an Israeli bulldozer approaching the house where his nephew was, he ran to warn the driver. But the bulldozer ploughed into the wall of the house, which collapsed on Jamal.

Although they evacuated significant numbers of civilians, the Israelis made use of others as human shields. Rajeh Tawafshi, a 72-year-old man, told us that the soldiers tied his hands and made him walk in front of them as they searched house to house. Moments before, they had shot dead Ahmad Hamduni, a man in his eighties, before Mr Tawafshi’s eyes. Mr Hamduni had sought shelter in Mr Tawafshi’s house, but the Israeli soldiers had blown the door open. Part of the metal door landed next to the two men. Mr Hamduni was hunched with age, and Mr Tawafshi thinks the soldiers may have mistakenly thought he was wearing a suicide-bomb belt. They shot him on sight.

Even children were not immune from the Israeli onslaught. Faris Zeben, a 14-year-old boy, was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in cold blood. There was not even any fighting at the time. The curfew on Jenin had been lifted for a few hours and the boy went to buy groceries. This was on Thursday 11 April. Faris’s eight-year-old brother, Abdel Rahman, was with him when he died. Nervously picking at his cardigan, his eyes on the ground, the child told us what happened.

“It was me and Faris and one other boy, and some women I didn’t know. Faris told me to go home but I refused. We were going in front of the tank. Then we saw the front of the tank move towards us and I was scared. Faris told me to go home but I refused. The tank started shooting and Faris and the other boy ran away. I fell down. I saw Faris fall down, I thought he just fell. Then I saw blood on the ground so I went to Faris. Then two of the women came and put Faris in a car.”

Abdel Rahman showed us where it happened. We paced it out: the tank had been about 80m away. He said there was only one burst of machine-gun fire. He imitated the sound it made. The soldiers in the tank gave no warning, he said. And after they shot Faris they did nothing.

Fifteen-year-old Mohammed Hawashin was shot dead as he tried to walk through the camp. Aliya Zubeidi told us how she was on her way to the hospital to see the body of her son Ziad, a militant from the Al-Aqsa brigades, who had been killed in the fighting. Mohammed accompanied her. “I heard shooting,” said Ms Zubeidi. “The boy was sitting in the door. I thought he was hiding from the bullets. Then he said, ‘Help.’ We couldn’t do anything for him. He had been shot in the face.”

In a deserted road by the periphery of the refugee camp, we found the flattened remains of a wheelchair. It had been utterly crushed, ironed flat as if in a cartoon. In the middle of the debris lay a broken white flag. Durar Hassan told us how his friend, Kemal Zughayer, was shot dead as he tried to wheel himself up the road. The Israeli tanks must have driven over the body, because when Mr Hassan found it, one leg and both arms were missing, and the face, he said, had been ripped in two.

Mr Zughayer, who was 58, had been shot and wounded in the first Palestinian intifada. He could not walk, and had no work. Mr Hassan showed us the pitiful single room where his friend lived, the only furnishing a filthy mattress on the floor. Mr Zughayer used to wheel himself to the petrol station where Mr Hassan worked every day, because he was lonely. Mr Hassan did his washing; it was he who put the white flag on Mr Zughayer’s wheelchair.

“After 4pm I pushed him up to the street as usual,” said Mr Hassan. “Then I heard the tanks coming, there were four or five. I heard shooting, and I thought they were just firing warning shots to tell him to move out of the middle of the road.” It was not until the next morning that Mr Hassan went to check what had happened. He found the flattened wheelchair in the road, and Mr Zughayer’s mangled body some distance away, in the grass.

The Independent has more such accounts. There simply is not enough space to print them all. Mr Bouckaert, the Human Rights Watch researcher, who is preparing a report, said the sheer number of these accounts was convincing.

“We’ve carried out extensive interviews in the camp, and the testimonies of dozens of witnesses are entirely consistent with each other about the extent and the types of abuses that were carried out in the camp,” said Mr Bouckaert, who has investigated human-rights abuses in a dozen war zones, including Rwanda, Kosovo and Chechnya. “Over and over again witnesses have been giving similar accounts of atrocities that were committed. Many of the people who were killed were young children or elderly people. Even in the cases of young men; in Palestinian society, relatives are quite forthcoming when young men are fighters. They take pride that their young men are so-called ‘martyrs’. When Palestinian families claim their killed relatives were civilians we give a high degree of credibility to that.”

The events at Jenin — which have passed almost unquestioned inside Israel — have created a crisis in Israel’s relations with the outside world. Questions are now being asked increasingly in Europe over whether Ariel Sharon is, ultimately, fighting a “war on terror”, or whether he is trying to inflict a defeat that will end all chance of a Palestinian state. These suspicions grew still stronger this week as pictures emerged of the damage inflicted by the Israeli army elsewhere in the West Bank during the operation: the soldiers deliberately trashed institutions of Palestinian statehood, such as the ministries of health and education.

To counter the international backlash, the Israeli government has launched an enormous public-relations drive to justify the operation in Jenin. Their efforts have been greatly helped by the Palestinian leadership, who instantly, and without proof, declared that a massacre had occurred in which as many as 500 died. Palestinian human-rights groups made matters worse by churning out wild, and clearly untrue, stories.

No holds are barred in the Israeli PR counterattack. The army — realising that many journalists will not bother, or are unable, to go to Jenin — has even made an Orwellian attempt to alter the hard, physical facts on the ground. It has announced that the published reports of the devastated area are exaggerated, declaring it to be a mere 100m square — about one-twentieth of its true area.

One spokesman, Major Rafi Lederman, a brigade chief of staff, told a press conference on Saturday that the Israeli armed forces did not fire missiles from its Cobra helicopters — a claim dismissed by a Western military expert who has toured the wrecked camp with one word: “Bollocks.” There were, said the major, “almost no innocent civilians” — also untrue.

The chief aim of the PR campaign has been to redirect the blame elsewhere. Israeli officials accuse UNWRA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, for allowing a “terrorist infrastructure” to evolve in a camp under its administration without raising the alarm. UNWRA officials wearily point out that it does not administer the camp; it provides services, mainly schools and clinics.

The Israeli army has lashed out at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Palestinian Red Crescent, whose ambulances were barred from entering the camp for six days, from 9 to 15 April. It has accused them of refusing to allow the army to search their vehicles, and of smuggling out Palestinians posing as wounded. The ICRC has dismissed all these claims as nonsense, describing the ban — which violates the Geneva Convention — as “unacceptable”.

The Israeli army says it bulldozed buildings after the battle ended, partly because they were heavily booby trapped but also because there was a danger of them collapsing on to its soldiers or Palestinian civilians. But after the army bulldozers withdrew, The Independent found many families, including children, living in badly damaged homes that were in severe danger of collapse.

The thrust of Israel’s PR drive is to argue that the Palestinians blew up the neighbourhood, compelling the army to knock it down. It is true that there were a significant number of Palestinian booby traps around the camp, but how many is far from clear. Booby traps are a device typically used by a retreating force against an advancing one. Here, the Palestinian fighters had nowhere to go.

What is beyond dispute is that the misery of Jenin is not over. There are Palestinians still searching for missing people, although it is not clear whether they are in Israeli detention, buried deep under the rubble, or in graves elsewhere.

Suspicions abound among the Palestinians that bodies have been removed by the Israeli army. They cite the Israeli army’s differing statements about the death toll during the Jenin operation — first it said it thought that there were around 100 Palestinian dead; then it said hundreds of dead and wounded; and, finally, only dozens. More disturbingly, Israeli military sources originally said there was a plan to move bodies out of the camp and bury them in a “special cemetery”. They now say that the plan was shelved after human-rights activists challenged it successfully at the Israeli supreme court.

Each day, as we interviewed the survivors, there were several explosions as people trod on unexploded bombs and rockets that littered the ruined camp. One hour after Fadl Musharqa, 42, had spoken with us about the death of his brother, he was rushed to the hospital, his foot shattered after he stepped on an explosive.

A man came up to us in the hospital holding out something in the palm of his hand. They were little, brown, fleshy stumps: the freshly severed toes of his 10-year-old son, who had stepped on some explosives. The boy lost both legs and an arm. The explosives that were left behind were both the Palestinians’ crude pipe bombs and the Israelis’ state-of-the-art explosives: the bombs and mines with which they blew open doors, the helicopter rockets they fired into civilian homes.

These are the facts that the Israeli government does not want the world to know. To them should be added the preliminary conclusion of Amnesty International, which has found evidence of severe abuses of human rights — including extra-judicial executions — and has called for a war crimes inquiry.

At the time of writing, Israel has withdrawn its co-operation from a fact-finding mission dispatched by the UN Security Council to find out what happened in Jenin. This is, given what we now know about the crimes committed there, hardly surprising.


7.  Ynet,

March 07, 2011

Bakri: Not sorry for anything Photo: Gil Yohanan

Arab director calls troops ‘dogs’ in court

Supreme Court hears soldiers’ appeal against Mohammad Bakri, director of film ‘Jenin Jenin’. ‘You describe us as Nazis,’ say plaintiffs, who demand apology. Bakri says he’s not sorry, being persecuted by IDF, Shin Bet,7340,L-4038674,00.html

Aviad Glickman

The Supreme Court heard Saturday testimonies by reserve soldiers who appealed against Arab actor and director Mohammad Bakri, claiming that his film ‘Jenin Jenin’ is libelous.

The court debate saw accusations tossed between the attorney representing the soldiers, Yisrael Kaspi, who said Bakri was being paid by Israel’s enemy. “You are wandering dogs,” Bakri yelled at the soldiers. Security guards were forced to intervene to prevent clashes.

Justice Miriam Naor suggested at first that the defendant apologize to the plaintiffs, telling Attorney Avigdor Feldman to “check with Bakri if he is willing to say that he made a film which is not a documentary and, in light of the court’s findings, apologize before the plaintiffs”.

The soldiers, however, refused to accept the judge’s suggestion. “We were harmed very badly and the mark of Cain branded on our foreheads. We were described as murderers and Nazis and this trial cannot end with an apology and not compensation,” Kaspi said. He accused Bakri of colluding with Israel’s enemies.

“You describe us as Nazis. Until you apologize and ask for our forgiveness you have no place here,” the attorney for the prosecution said, nearly causing a brawl which security guards were forced to prevent.

“I am not sorry for anything,” Bakri asserted as the hearing began. “This is my belief, this is what I saw, and I have no regrets. Those who should have regrets are the IDF, the Shin Bet, and the prime minister, who are persecuting me.”

The director said he had spent a few peaceful days among the Jewish community in Rome, where he was treated better then in Israel. “I showed parts of the film there. The responses were warm,” he said, adding that he had received funding from the Palestinian Authority upon completing the film.

MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) came to support Bakri in court, and said that there was “a crusade” against the director in Israel.

“The problem is that the focus of what is happening in Jenin should be on the victims – the civilians who were killed – and not the film. These are difficulties caused by the soldiers and all artists should be free to represent them as he sees fit,” Tibi said.

Bakri heads to court for hearing (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

‘Blood libels must be punishable’

The unit’s doctor, David Tzangen, told Ynet before the hearing that he expects the court to support him and his colleagues. “Our soldiers should not be walking around with knives in their backs as murderers or war criminals,” he said, adding that judges should prevent soldiers from being branded with “blood libels”.

“People who spread blood libels must be punishable, and when a man fires in your direction and the direction of your state you must defend yourself and fire back,” Dr. Tzangen said.

Bakri’s film has been under the public eye since 2002, when it was supposed to be released. It relates the story of residents of Jenin just days after a lethal battle in the West Bank town, which was part of the army’s Operation Defensive Shield.

The film, which Bakri contends is a documentary, was at first censored but then released publicly by order of the High Court of Justice, after a public battle that lasted two years.

But in February of 2003 five reserve soldiers who took part in the battle sued Bakri, as well as theaters in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, for libel. The plaintiffs are seeking NIS 2.5 million ($690,000).

Though their suit was rejected in 2008, the soldiers received backing from former Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and decided to appeal to the Supreme Court. Mazuz said he would not indict Bakri, but that he would support the soldiers in their legal battle.

In their suit, the soldiers claim that the film “poses as a documentary presenting alleged testimonies and facts” such as soldiers firing unlawfully, harming children, and trampling corpses – things they claim never happened.

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