- 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
- 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
- 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
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