Urgent Call for Support Issued by BADIL Resource Center, Bethlehem
As Israel’s assault on the Palestinian population in the 1967 occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip continues unabated for the fifth consecutive day in the districts of Bethlehem, Ramallah, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, and Nablus, both Palestinian survival and the survival of a viable political option for peace in the region depend on the immediate and determined intervention by the international community to stop the Sharon government. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, 160 Palestinians have been injured and 26 killed in the current Israeli assault between 18 – 21 October, i.e. a death toll which equals half of the number of Palestinians killed during the whole month of September.
In the Bethlehem area, 14 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli armed forces between Thursday, 18 October and Sunday, 21 October by shelling from tanks and gunship helicopters and by snipers shooting from Israeli army positions set up on the tops of Palestinian homes. The refugee camps of Aida and Beit Jibrin/Azza remain sieged by army tanks, UNRWA has been prevented access, and food supplies in the camps are running short. King Hussein Hospital in Beit Jala was attacked by heavy tank shelling twice on Sunday night, resulting in the death of one person and the injury of one of its physicians. All Palestinian institutions in the area, including BADIL Resource Center, have been unable to operate, as movement in the streets has become a matter of life and death.
List of Palestinian victims of the Israeli assault (Bethlehem area, 18-21 October):
Atef Abayat, assassinated by car bomb, Beit Sahour, Thursday, 18-10-2001;
Issa Abayat, assassinated by car bomb, Beit Sahour, Thursday, 18-10-2001;
Jamal Abedallah, assassinated by car bomb, Beit Sahour, Thursday, 18-10-2001;
Musa George Abu Eid, shot inside his home in Beit Jala, Friday 19-10-2001;
Abed Abdelqader Abu Srour, shot next to his home, Aida camp, Friday, 19-10-2001;
Mariam Subaih, shot next to her home in El-Khader village by tank shells, Friday, 19-10-2001;
Rihab Nofal, a pregnant woman from Husan village; she was stopped at the Israeli checkpoint until she died, Friday, 19-10-2001;
Rania Kharoufa, shot in a shop while trying to hide from bullets shot from an Apache helicopter, Beit Jala, Friday, 19-10-2001;
Aysha Odeh, shot inside her home, Aida refugee camp, Friday, 19-10-2001;
Joni Yousif Thaljiya, shot while waking on the Nativity Square, Bethlehem, Saturday, 20-10-2001;
Yousif Mohammad Abayat, 15 years, killed during shelling, Bethlehem, Saturday, 20-10-2001;
Muhammad Sulaiman Baraq’a, disabled deaf father of five, shot in his home, Azza/Beit Jibrin camp, Sunday, 21-10-2001;
Nahed Hussain Aljuju, officer in the Palestinian National Forces, shot in fighting, Sunday, 21-10-2001;
Issa Fouzi Abu Hlayel, killed by a shell in front of Al-Hussein Hospital, Beit Jala, Sunday, 21-10-2001;
PLEASE SEND URGENT CALLS FOR INTERVENTION to your government and press. Below is a sample letter prepared by Ali Abunimah, Palestine Right-to-Return Coalition, which we recommend to use for guidance.
The situation in the West Bank and Gaza is urgent and critical.
DEMAND THE UNITED STATES TAKE A STAND AND STOP ISRAEL'S AGGRETION IMMEDIATELY!
CALL, EMAIL, AND FAX LETTERS LIKE THE ONE BELOW TO:
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Phone: (202) 456-1414
Fax: (202) 456-2461
Secretary of State Colin Powell
Phone: (202) 647-4000 (202-647-5150) Bureau of Near East Affairs
Fax: (202) 261-8577
Subject: Stop Israel's Rampage
October 20, 2001
Dear Secretary of State Powell,
I am writing to urge you immediately to intervene to stop Israel's murderous rampage against Palestinians in the occupied territories. Israeli attacks are escalating and the death toll is mounting despite strong statements from the United States that these attacks should be halted. It is clear that words alone do not stop Israel's government, and it is now time for the United States to take a stand.
The United States cannot be both for a Palestinian State, as the President has recently affirmed it is, and also for allowing Israel to rampage freely and indefinitely through the occupied territories murdering people, destroying property, building settlements and besieging and impoverishing the entire population. The United States cannot both be for peace and negotiations and at the same time unconditionally supply the very weapons with which Israel makes war against a defenseless civilian population under occupation.
The United States cannot be for law and order and at the same time do nothing to oppose Israel's use of death squads armed with American weapons to carry out extrajudicial executions. Indeed I wonder how it is that at the same time as the United States demands that the Palestinians arrest and try people responsible for violence against Israelis, the United States welcomes in Washington those who plan it and carry it out on a massive scale against Palestinian civilians and leaders.
Since October 18 at least 20 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli occupation forces who have now taken over parts of six Palestinian cities. Dozens of Israeli tanks now control Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Ramallah and Al-Bireh and their residents are under constant bombardment. As I write today, eight people have been killed.
Women and children are the most conspicuous victims of the ongoing Israeli attacks. Today, 23 year old Rania Kharufa died after being hit by shrapnel from a tank shell which exploded near her house in Beit Jala.
Aisha Abu Odeh, a mother of eight was mowed down by Israeli machine gun fire at the at the door of her home in Aida refugee camp near Bethlehem and witnesses said tank fire killed 17-year-old Yusef Abayat on the street. Yesterday, 35-year-old Mariam Sbeh was killed according to media reports.
According to human rights organizations, Basil Saleem Mohammed Al-Mubasher, 14 years old from Khan Yunis, was killed by an Israeli tank-shell that landed near his house following Israeli shelling of residential areas during the night of 18 October. Basil discovered the unexploded shell the following morning and was killed when it exploded.
On 18 October 2001, 10-year old Riham Nabeel Ward was killed by live ammunition to the chest while attending school in the German Area, Jenin. Riham and other students of the Shahidayn Al Ibrahmiyyeh Basic Girls School arrived for class in the morning and found Israeli tanks and soldiers positioned near the school following an Israeli incursion into the area the previous night. Israeli soldiers opened fire while the students were attempting to take cover on the floor of one of the classrooms. Riham died in her older sister's arms while five other students and a teacher were also injured. Dozens of others have been injured.
Like tens of millions of people, I have witnessed these things on the television thanks to Al-Jazira and when I see the injustice of them they make me outraged and angry.
If the United States does not take active steps, beyond mere words, to prevent Israel from using US aid to continue its grave violations of the Fourth Geneva Conventions, then how can anyone conclude that the United States is not aiding, abetting and fully supporting Israel's criminal actions? You cannot have it both ways.
Time is short Mr. Secretary and enough lives have been lost. In the interests of everyone, in the interests of peace, I hope the United States will act now.