Siege of Nablus
Nablus in Agony
Palestinian Medical Relief Society
From Palestine Monitor
It is now the twelfth
day since the Israeli armed forces launched a massive military operation
against the Palestinian town of Nablus, home to more than 200,000 people. So
far, Israeli troops have killed fourteen civilians and injured approximately
100. Residents are being prohibited from leaving or entering Nablus, thus
imprisoning 200,000 people. Medical rescue teams are being denied access to
provide basic emergency and humanitarian care, causing a shortage of food
and medical supplies. Media representatives have also been denied entry to
ensure that there is no one present to witness the horrific crimes being
Thursday, January 8th, 2004
Mahmoud Aloul, the Governor of Nablus and Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi President of Palestinian Medical Relief, gave a joint press conference along with Palestinian Ministry Forensic Doctor, Sameer Abu Zarour in the temporary premises of the governorate in Nablus.
The press conference was called to bring media attention to the recent Israeli incursions and continuing curfews in the city, which until today have been largely un-reported. The governor Mahmoud Aloul explained how efforts to contact both embassies and press offices had been unsuccessful during this campaign of great escalation on Sharon's behalf which resulted in 18 Palestinian deaths and over 250 injured.
The governor attributed this lack of media attention to a focused Israeli policy to carry out such attacks not only during the Christian holidays but also at a time when world attention was focused elsewhere, on the earthquake in Iran and the Egyptian plane crash for instance. Addressing Israeli justifications for the invasions Aloul described Israeli claims as propaganda, a "campaign of misinformation". He explained how Israel's attempts to connect these operations to the December 24th suicide bombing in Tel Aviv were completely inaccurate, the invasions of Nablus having begun a full week before the Tel Aviv bombing.
The governor went on to describe the events of the last few weeks, the killings of innocent civilians during the 12 days the town was held under virtually uninterrupted curfew, the demolition of houses in the Balata Refugee Camp, in Beit Foreek and in the old town. He emphasized the disproportionate force used against a civilian population and expressed outrage at the damage done to the historic sites of the city, the aqueducts and tunnels dating back to Roman times.
Before introducing Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, the Governor summed up by pointing out that the people of Nablus asked only for freedom, for independence and an end to the occupation. He stressed that what they were asking for was peace, a hope which can be realistic with the many political movements and initiatives taking place. Yet, he continued, it seems that each time peace appears a reality, Sharon raises the level of tension to place obstacles before such initiatives.
Describing the Nablus invasions as an Israeli 'unilateral military campaign' Dr. Barghouthi echoed the governor's sentiments that this had been a military campaign carried out against a civilian population, interpretable as nothing other than an act of collective punishment.
The large number of civilian deaths must be attributed to the un-relentless curfew placed upon the town. The deaths of so many civilians came as Israeli forces rampaged through the city in a manner akin to that of death squads. Dr. Barghouthi spoke specifically of yesterday's executions and the killing of Rbed Al Afu Al Khasass who was executed after being used by Israeli soldiers as a human shield. He also recounted the story of two martyrs from the same Al- Masri family, one killed while carrying the body at the funeral of the other.
Informing the assembled journalists of the latest statistics of Palestinians killed in the last three years (2782) Dr. Barghouthi talked of an apparent belief of impunity amongst the Israeli army who view themselves as standing above international laws and unaccountable when it comes to violations of human rights laws.
Dr. Barghouthi went on to point out three apparent trends being systematically carried out by the state of Israel and its armed forces. Firstly, the horrific campaigns of invasions and killings as seen in Jenin, Rafah, Tulkarem, and Qalqilya as well as Nablus in the past month alone.
Secondly, the continued construction of the apartheid wall,
And thirdly, the continuing maintenance and implementation of checkpoints and closures throughout the West Bank and Gaza, which now number some 757 according to the UN's OCHA.
Dr. Barghouthi urged the journalists present to confront the issue of narrative. Not only to disregard Israel's depiction of an equally balanced war between two armies but to seek and disseminate the truth. Faced with the superior capabilities of the massive Israeli propaganda machine and the wealth and resources of the various pro-Israel lobbies we must, he stressed, maintain a belief in the power of the truth.
Dr. Barghouthi concluded by commending the level of solidarity shown in the city amidst its tribulations. The city supported itself he said, while many failed to do so.
Along with Dr. Barghouthi, Dr. Sameer Abu Zarour, forensic doctor of Nablus Raffidiya hospital then presented various x-ray pictures portraying the aggressive methods with which Israeli soldiers have been attacking Palestinian civilians. One example showed an x-ray picture of the head of Muhammad al-Masri. He had been killed during the funeral of his cousin Amjad Bilal. The x-ray showed how a bullet had struck Muhammad in the top of his head, causing extensive damage to his skull and his brain. The angle from which the bullet entered the skull showed how Muhammad can only have been shot from an angle above.
Like the majority of those killed in this latest Israeli incursion, Muhammad had been killed by one bullet to the head from a sniper above him - to whom at no time could he have possibly been conceived as presenting any danger. The Israeli forces withdrew from Nablus yesterday empty handed. This violent and unnecessary incursion had led to the discovery of nothing that could possibly support the Israeli pretexts for invading.