Update: Bethlehem, 3 April 2002
Thanks to the compliance and support provided by the governments of the United States and Europe, and in the absence of effective political opposition in Israel, Ariel Sharon has proceeded unhindered in the gradual implementation of his strategic plan since he took office as prime minister in February 2001. Unrestricted by the red lines commonly applicable to governments in the 21st century - whether international law and UN resolutions, or perceived political interests of the powerful states Ariel Sharons current military campaign continues to crush Palestinian resistance to the military occupation and the quest for freedom, sovereignty, and a just peace. Death and destruction incurred to the Palestinian people in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Qalqilya, Tulkarem, Jenin and elsewhere by the superior Israeli military power since Friday, 29 March, will not bring about the desired surrender of the Palestinian people, neither will the liquidation and deportation of the Palestinian leadership. As the current Israeli military campaign is about to lay in shambles the infrastructure of Palestinian civilian and political life, it is also laying the seeds of a prolonged and even more violent conflict in the Middle East.
Other than previous Israeli military assaults and incursions into areas administered by the Palestinian National Authority (areas A), and in line with Sharons plans, the current Israeli military campaign has effectively stopped the functioning of Palestinian public services, institutions and infrastructure. The immediate result of this step is a dramatic humanitarian crisis in the occupied West Bank. The question whether the destroyed and paralyzed Palestinian civilian infrastructure is to be rebuilt and re-activated after weeks or months of Israeli assault has not yet been answered by the Sharon government.
Friday, 5 April: DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
As foreign governments and the United Nations are apparently prepared to stand by and watch until they might again be called upon in the role of donors for emergency relief and re-construction, the Emergency Committee of Palestinian National and Islamic Forces calls upon the international solidarity movement to maintain the pressure on political decision makers worldwide.
*Join us on Friday, 5 April, in a worldwide Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People;
*Demonstrate and lobby for the immediate halt of the Israeli military assault against the Palestinian people and its leadership, international protection for the Palestinian people, the end of Israels military occupation and the right of return of Palestinian refugees;
*Help us prevent a repetition of the 1948 Nakba of the Palestinian people!
REPORT FROM BETHLEHEM, 3 April 2002:
In the absence of a functioning civilian infrastructure, accurate cross-regional information about loss of life, injuries and damages caused by the Israeli military assault are no longer available. In Bethlehem, shut-down and invaded by some 200 Israeli tanks, military machinery and large forces of soldiers since the night of Friday, 29 March, the situation by 3 April is as following:
*The Israeli occupation army took over the municipality building located on Manger square in the morning hours of 3 April. A special civil operations room and local press services set up at the municipality, in order to organize and inform the public about health and emergency services was rampaged, and all Palestinian staff (approximately 20 municipal employees and journalists) were arrested. Electricity and phone services are available partially only. Schools and banks were forced to close down, and it is not known when they will be able to reopen.
*An unknown number of civilians and resistance fighters have taken shelter in several churches of Bethlehem. They are surrounded by Israeli armed forces and lack access to water and food supplies.
*Urgently needed medical care is not available. Dead and injured have remained in the streets or in private homes, as ambulances are prevented from taking them to the local hospitals. Families have been unable to bury their dead as the Israeli army has not allowed funerals:
*At least 20 persons have been injured, and twelve Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, have been killed:
oYussef Aboud (60), Bethlehem; he was shot on 2 April, while in his place of work as a janitor of a residential building in Bethlehem;
oFather Jack Assad (St. Marys Church); early reports that Father Jack had been killed on 2 April during an Israeli military assault against the church proved to be incorrect;
oSumaya Abdeh (65), killed on 2 April, when her home in the center of Bethlehem was attacked with explosives;
oKhaled Abdeh (35), killed on 2 April in his home together with his mother Sumaya;
oMassir Khaled Al-Atrash, a new-born baby who died on 2 April, when his mother was forced to deliver at the Israeli army checkpoint separating al-Walajeh village from the town of Bethlehem;
oAnnan Tayseer Jawarish (20), a resistance fighter from Beit Jala;
oMahmoud Salah (30), a resistance fighter from Al-Khader village;
oYahya Daamseh (45), resistance fighter from Deheishe refugee camp;
oIssa Muhammad Daboub (15), shot while walking in the streets of Bethlehem;
oOmar Shehadeh Salahat (40), shot on 3 April while walking on Manger Square;
oAwwad Moussa Awwad (20), resistance fighter shot on 3 April in St. Marys Church;
oIzzat Youssef Shahin, found dead in on 3 April in the Omar Ibn Khatab mosque which was set on fire the night before.
Bethlehems historical old town has been the major site of fighting between the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli occupation army. Shelling of heavy ammunition from Israeli tanks and helicopters has inflicted sever damages to historical buildings, streets, churches and mosques only recently repaired in the framework of the international Bethlehem 2000 Project. Among the targets of Israeli shelling were St. Marys Church, the Lutheran church compound, and the Omar Ibn Khatab Mosque on Manger Square, which was partially destroyed by fire last night.