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The West Bank
In Nablus, further evidence of the sheer brutality of the army and police was seen. Youngsters who had been shot were horribly mutilated and disfigured: the fact that the injuries were concentrated in the chest, back and abdomen clearly demonstrated that the soldiers were not merely firing warning shots or trying to simply incapacitate the Palestinians - they were shooting to kill. The delegation also came across a victim of "Israeli settlers" for the first time; a man who on his journey back from work had been dragged from his car (which was then set alight) and severely beaten.
Nablus also provided the introduction to life in the concentration camps which are home thousands of Palestinians who were made homeless by the Zionist takeover of their houses and land in 1948. These over - crowded camps are, in many cases, totally unfit for human habitation and yet, in houses once built to accommodate two or three persons, there are actually two or three generations of families living there!
In the Beit al Maa Camp, the results of the terrorist tactics used by the Israelis trying to demoralise the local population were shown. Houses are entered, by force, and everything possible is smashed by the batons and rifle - butts of the soldiers; windows are broken indiscriminately by patrols as they pass by in the narrow alleyways. The latter often occurs at night - imagine yourself lying asleep when, suddenly, all of your windows come crashing in around you!
After prayers in the local Mosque, the delegation listened to a local man recount his experiences as a prisoner in Atilit Prison near Haifa (inside "Israel") where, following his detention without reason, he was forced to strip, ducked in scalding water immediately followed by cold water, hung by the wrists, sat on a chair - still naked - in the pouring rain for two hours after which he was interrogated. On their way to prison, the persons arrested were ordered to drink a mixture of urine and coca-cola, and if any refused to drink this 'cocktail', tear-gas was thrown into the bus where they were left without ventilation. In prison, 'their' meals consisted of four olives for every three men.
At the Masjid Balata Al - Balad, the damage caused to the masjid during congregational Asr prayer by five settlers from the nearby Alon settlement was shown to the delegation.
In Balata Camp itself, the horrors of an army totally out of control were evident. Young girls had been shot and killed while trying to carrying the wounded away. One family still mourned their 60 year old mother who was shot in the heart on her own doorstep and two children were seen who had been shot by rubber bullets inside their homes! It was in this camp that the delegation was shot at by some Israeli soldiers who were taking random pot - shots at the people, provoking them to come out onto the streets, thus providing the soldiers with the ideal excuse to "quell a riot". Minutes after the delegation were the targets for this outrageous behaviour, an army patrol appeared on the scene.
In nearby Salim village, one of the victims of the Israelis who was buried alive was met, and he told of the horror of that day when he and three friends were severely beaten and then covered with wet earth by an army bulldozer.
Whilst driving to Al Khalil (Hebron), the delegation passed the concentration camps in Bethlehem. High fences and barricades erected by the army invite comparison with the tactics used by the nazis in the 30's and 40's against, the self-same people who are now using them against the people of Palestine. The jackpot is obviously now on the other foot.
In Al Khalil, the delegation visited orphanages and schools closed down by the military authorities as well as a clinic struggling to provide an adequate service whilst being forbidden from collecting funds to carry out its work. Ambulances and medicines are urgently needed. The Masjid Ibrahim dominates the old town and it was virtually taken over by the Jews for use as a synagogue in 1969 and is now guarded by soldiers who harass the few Muslims who still continue to pray there.
The delegation saw one of the worst cases of Israeli "justice" in this town: Because one ember of a family was suspected of being involved in the killing of a JEw - and that person had already been in prison for two months - 500 soldiers came at two o' clock in the morning, evicted the extended family of 22 and blew up their house with dynamite. The local military commander has forbidden the rebuilding of the house and so now the whole family live in tents behind the rubble of their former home.
The town of Idna, west of Al Khalil, was cut off from the outside world by an army - imposed curfew enforced by 500 soldiers lasting for ten days. As a protest against this, the townsfolk tried to prevent the army from entering the town by blocking the roads with boulders. This, the army decided, was inflammatory and so a force of 2000 soldiers descended on the town one night, shooting wildly and throwing tear - gas bombs from helicopters. Bulldozers were used to demolish many buildings, including the mosque, and the cemetery. Young people were arrested and severely beaten and women complained of looting and robbery by the soldiers. When leaving the town, the army destroyed the main electricity generator for the area. The reason for this collective punishment? A Jew was killed in a grenade attack not far from Idna; the army blamed the Palestinians who in turn claim that that it was an army patrol which panicked and killed one of their own men with a wild grenade. Whatever the reason, can such collective guilt and punishment be acceptable in a supposedly civilised society?