- In a few weeks - when the Israeli army is out of there
for a while, and all this horror is documented by the 'mainstream media'
when they are allowed back in to Ramallah etc. - don't say you didn't know
what was going on. Do something NOW! Forward this to all your friends
and associates. Email or fax copies to your politicians, your local and
national media. Please help stop this senseless war against a people.
Read on. . . . .
- From email@example.com
- On April 8th, 2002 at 1p.m., the curfew was lifted in
Ramallah for the second time in 11 days, and for a period of 4 hours.
It gave some a chance to hunt for bread and eggs, and others to quickly
survey the damage to their institutions, since in the previous lifting
of the curfew people could barely concentrate on hunting for but not finding
bread. But once locked up again, a slow realization came about... wonder
what they did inside the buildings they broke into.
- With gradual reports of plunder, stealing and breaking
emerging, you can imagine that many began to worry, then fear a much worse
realization: destruction of the institutional and cultural infrastructure
of Palestinian life. This realization, alas, is now being confirmed. For
many, much of their laborious work in institution building has been ruined.
- Although we do not know the level and extent of this
type of destruction, eyewitness reports indicate that it is all- encompassing.
No doubt, it will take months to assess the extent of this damage, once
we emerge out of the current circumstances. And clearly, being under curfew
and with mere phone contacts, we only know of some cases, those that we
happen to have access to or pertain to people we know. Here is what we
know so far:
- 1. Radio and television stations: Not only did the Israeli
army occupy most of the local radio and television stations early on,
but they used one of the stations at least, WATAN, to air pornographic
films. That day, probably on the second day of this onslaught, I turned
on the television to see Watan Television Station's couragous reporting
of what is happening around us. I was shocked by a pornographic film instead.
Called everybody and everyone, as did everybody else who saw that. And
it took I think two days for this to stop...just think of children watching
in the midst of all that is happening around them. And then we began to
hear reports of what has taken place at al-Quds University's Educational
Television, which normally broadcasts educational materials, but since
the beginning of this state of affairs, had begun airing cartoons for
children and short films on first aid and trauma management, as well as
phone numbers and addresses to use for emergency purposes in these trying
- According to the technical director of this station and
another filmmaker friend, the army occupied the station and held two staff
operators for many hours before they were released. When the curfew was
lifted on April 5th, he tried his best to get into the station, but was
not allowed in by the army. On the way back, his worst fears were magnified:
al-Nasr TV, Manara, Ajyal, and Angham radio station owners all reported
the same horror. They were able to get into their stations and found all
the equipment on the floor, totally and irreparably damaged. Microphones,
tapes, CD's, monitors, mixers etc. all spread and smashed into shambles.
Even Radio Love and Peace studios, ironically, were found totally destroyed,
apparently using highly effective sledgehammers or something of this sort!
- 2. Non-governmental organizations working on economic
and social development research, policy and human rights
- a. Al-Haq, HDIP and MATTIN: these are three non-governmental
organizations specializing in human rights, health research and policy
and economic research development respectively. They are situated in one
building. The first report I received was from al-Haq, indicating that
they had stormed their office as well as that of HDIP, and that they had
arrested one of their workers. Later on, we realized via MATTIN researchers
that all three institutions were opened up, forming a big dormitory, and
that the army was using the entire area as a barracks. On the second curfew
lifting I went downtown and peeped through streets and building to see,
as you cannot get close, only to realize that the building is surrounded
with barbed wires and tanks, totally inaccessible even for people to inspect
the damage in there, and leaving you with a horrific imagination of what
could have happened inside, as the Israeli army is still using the offices
as a downtown station. We suspect that the damage must be great, or total,
based on reports of what happened in radio and television stations as
well as people's homes when they are stormed.
- b. UPMRC . First, the Youth Center, housing a computer
laboratory as well as other equipment and materials that are intended
to help youth in these trying times. On Sunday the 31st of March the Israeli
army stormed the center. They detonated the door and went in. They broke
all the internal doors, and destroyed some of the computers, we do not
know how many. We have no idea to date if they stole anything or not.
- Then, the UPMRC Optometry Center: the centre was stormed
probably also on the same day. Again the door was detonated, and even
the internal walls were destroyed, and everything was broken, computers,
microscopes, and all of the diagnostic equipment was smashed and on the
floor. The Israeli army also took with them the main records computer.
There is nothing there that is operational.
- And, the UPMRC Technical Aids for the Disabled Centre:
stormed on the first of April. Stormed by exploding one of the walls,
as they could not open the main door, tried to detonate the door but did
not succeed. All computers were broken and down on the floor, glass broken,
even parts of walls were down.
- And finally, UPMRC'c main emergency medical center,
first shelled by tanks, with shells landing inside one of rooms, carving
out the first wall into the second room, and then again the second wall
into the third room. Then they stormed the building and destroyed all
the equipment there, computers, photocopier etc. The Israeli army also
detonated the doors of other NGO's located in the building, such as the
Mandela Institute, as well a private dental clinic and computer company
located in the same building. One office, belonging to a private lawyer
was partially burned down. All equipment in these offices were destroyed.
- c. Al-Mawrid Teacher Development Center in the Arizona
Building in the heart of downtown Ramallah: this center was directly hit
by a missile or bomb, which landed in through the window and caused a
fire, which has led to the total destruction of the premises.
- d. Muwatin, the Palestinian Institute for the Study
of Democracy, located on Irsal Street, was not spared either. Apparently,
the neighbor first reported that the army stormed into these offices and
stayed there for about three hours. One door was completely blown off,
and the other badly damaged. By the second curfew lifting, on April 9th,
a quick visit revealed destruction, and paper everywhere on floors, books
on floors. There was no time however to assess whether anything was stolen
nor the extent of the damage.
- We also hear that PARC ( Palestinian Agricultural Relief
Committee) and the Hydrology Group offices were also stormed but I do
not yet know the details.
- 3. Public Institutions: we have not begun to realize
the extent of the damage in this sector , but some reports are indicative.
On April 4th, the Ministry of Education issued an appeal to the world
community indicating that on April 3rd, more than 30 Israeli tanks made
a forceful entry into the Ministry headquarters in Ramallah , demolishing
the main gate and the main doors, although employees there were willing
to give them the keys to open the doors instead. The employees were then
captured and forced to sit under heavy rain for six hours, then released.
When the soldiers left at around 9 p.m that evening, the employees went
back to horrifying damage: the Ministry's computer net servers were stolen,
along with many floppy disks, CD's, files, dossiers, and all sorts of
other documents. In the finance office, the main coffer lock was detonated,
damaging all papers, including vouchers, promissory notes, cash and check
box. The general examination central office doors were all detonated and
destroyed, all iron cupboards as well, many of which containing very important
educational documents. All records were taken or destroyed, even records
of official transcripts that have been laboriously developed over years,
and making it impossible now to issue or certify student documents and
transcripts. Even the storage rooms were invaded, with computers, televisions
and video sets and other valuable teaching aids taken away, all with worth
estimated as in millions of dollars. Apparently, the piles of rubble on
the floor made for a terrifying scene.
- This list is by no means exhaustive, and has been compiled
from reports I have received from friends and colleagues in the institutions
concerned. The whole truth will take some time to emerge.
- This unbelievable destruction can only indicate that
this unilateral war is not merely about security, but is mainly directed
against annihilating everything Palestinian.