- The last group of hardcore Palestinian militants
in Jenin's refugee camp yesterday, but Israeli troops continued their
efforts to prevent independent witnesses entering the bloodiest battlefield
of their two-week-old anti-terrorist offensive.
- With Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, arriving
in Jerusalem last night the soldiers blocked the United Nations, the Red
Cross and the media from entering the "closed military area"
where scores of Palestinians, as well as 22 Israeli soldiers, have been
killed in ferocious close-quarter fighting.
- Some journalists were detained. One had his press card
ripped up. Footage filmed by a television cameraman was confiscated. The
few pictures that did emerge from the camp showed scenes of
- Refugees leaving the northern West Bank city talked of
misery, horror and death inside the camp which formerly housed 13,000
They spoke of "countless dead bodies" and men being executed
at close range.
- An Israeli soldier insisted: "It was hard, it was
tough, but it was not bad. If you kill terrorists it's not
- The Israeli Army said that about 100 Palestinians had
been killed, and army bulldozers were demolishing wrecked buildings. The
dead reportedly included Sheik Ali Sfuri, who is accused of masterminding
a series of terrorist attacks on Israeli targets. Saeb Erekat, a
cabinet minister, put the toll at 500.
- An international group representing the UN, the Red Cross
and the Norwegian Government, who were given assurances by the Israeli
Defence Force that they would be allowed inside the camp, were turned away.
Their cars were illegally searched and their cameras confiscated.
- "There are extremely worrying reports, but as there
are no witnesses, we cannot verify them," one member of the group
- "I asked one commander what exactly it is that they
want to hide as I have never known of UN people not being allowed in
There are still several thousand people inside the camp, with no
with the outside world.
- Latest reports from refugees include stories of
of civilians and bulldozers piling dead bodies into a pit. The city is
destroyed, damaged even more than other West Bank cities that have
Israeli incursions, and there is no water inside the camp.
- Refugees speak of bodies piled on the road decomposing
in the heat, and the soldiers are allowing very few ambulances into the
- "There are worrying reports that there are appalling
things happening," one international worker said. Amal Mahmoud Hamid
Ruq, a 22-year-old refugee from the camp, wept as she told of being forced
to leave her home and her city, and the fear she had that her younger
who has disappeared, has been murdered.
- Human rights workers have expressed concern about the
separation of families. In a white villa in Yaomu, a village outside of
Jenin, hundreds of refugees have arrived in the past few days, white-faced,
tearful, and clutching cheap plastic suitcases. Inside are remnants of
their pitiful lives.
- Most of the residents of Jenin camp are children and
grandchildren of those Palestinians who lost their properties after the
war of independence and as a result, they know no other way of life than
the squalor and poverty of a refugee camp. Now they are refugees once
this time from the teeming camp that they call home.
- Beya, a 10-year-old with long plaits, sits with her
Abla, and her three other siblings and describes the bulldozers, the
the demolished houses.
- Her grandmother, who holds a baby with chickenpox in
her arms, says that she has lost her son and his wife and is left with
the children. "We got separated and after days of not having water
and running out of bread, I took the children and left," she
- Sitting next to her on the floor is Mervet Hamet Mustafa,
22, who has three children with her, including a baby, who is also
from chickenpox. She stops herself talking several times to put her head
in her hands to cry. "I am so worried about my children," she
wails while her friend, Amal Mahmoud Ruq, leans against a wall and
- "I must find my brother," she says. "I
think they have killed him." Her friends try to comfort her, but it
seems pointless. She points to a small blue suitcase stuffed with a few
blouses and a hairbrush she hurriedly packed when she left. "This
is all I have now," she said.