World Finally Gets Glimpse
Of Jenin Camp Devastation

By Justin Huggler
outside Jenin Indymedia, Israel

The world finally got to see what Israel has done in the Jenin refugee camp yesterday. Piles of rubble where homes once stood. Gaping holes rent in the sides of buildings. Electricity wires torn down and strewn amid the wreckage. Water flooding out of broken mains and running down the broken streets.
This was our first glimpse of what is left of the packed warren of narrow lanes that became the scene of the worst fighting of Israel's onslaught in the West Bank. These are scenes of devastation that will haunt the mission of Colin Powell, who flew in yesterday.
This is the wreckage where hundreds of terrified civilians were trapped inside their homes as Israeli helicopters poured rockets all around them, ambulances not allowed to treat the wounded as they bled, where Palestinians captured by the Israelis say they were forces to strip in front of their families, where Palestinian fighters armed only with rifles resisted the Israeli attack for nine days. This is where the Israeli army admits it killed 100 Palestinians.
For out of the misery, humiliation and death of Jenin camp, the Palestinians are already fashioning a legend. Out of the rubble staggered a 13-year-old boy yesterday.
Amazingly, he was one of the last group of fighters who held out against the helicopters and the tanks. And already the stories are being passed from Palestinian to Palestinian: how the 13-year-old fought because his father was killed fighting the last time Israeli forces moved into the camp in March; how, when they ran out of ammunition, the fighters started throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers.
"I feel very proud of what the fighters did in Jenin," Deya al-Ahmad, a Palestinian in a neighbouring village, said yesterday. "I will tell my children this story, and I hope they will tell it to their grandchildren."
The Palestinians wrested this from a battle in which those detained tell horrific tales of their treatment by the Israelis. One told us he was forced to strip naked and act as a human shield, standing with an Israeli soldier behind him resting his gun on his shoulder. Another told us when he asked for a drink the soldiers forced a stick into his mouth. Then, he said, they brought him water that tasted of urine.
The shots were still echoing over the camp yesterday, even as Israeli forces claimed the battle was all but over. A few pockets of Palestinian fighters were holding out, though they had no chance of winning.
Rashid Hassan said: "I don't believe this is a victory for Israel, because a victory would mean they had achieved their goals and solved their problem once and for all. But I think the problem is going to start again for Israel. If they killed so many people, the next generation will fight even harder."
The Israeli authorities insist their onslaught on the West Bank is the only way to stop suicide bombings.
Among the refugees who fled Jenin camp, we found a teenager who would not give his name. He had been separated from his family and could not find them. He told us he was going to be a suicide bomber.
The Palestinians are claiming that far more than 100 of their number were killed in Jenin. Many of those who fled say they saw civilians, including women, carelessly cut down. The last thing Israel wants the world to see are the bodies of women in the streets. Rumours abound that the bodies are being hidden, taken away in trucks and buried by Israeli soldiers.
But local Palestinians say they are not going to allow the Israelis to hide the evidence. They have painstakingly documented the stories of those who have fled the camp. They claim their notes account for about 200 dead. The Independent has seen the detailed handwritten notes.
That means that it should be possible to find the bodies at specific addresses. Bodies such as that of Mufid Ahmad's mentally disabled aunt Yusra. He says he saw her die when a helicopter round came through the wall of their house. When police captured him and took him away he says Yusra's body was still in their second-floor flat. He told us the address. It should be possible to find the block of flats if it is still standing, but many have been bulldozed by the army to make a route for tanks.
But the figure of 100 dead, from military sources, means at least 100 bodies were lying among the ruins of Jenin. Even if someone has hidden them, 100 bodies are not going to do Israel's image any good at all.
c. 2002 Indymedia Israel. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by Indymedia Israel. indymedia group - ISRAEL

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