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The massacre Israel denies
Slaughter in Jenin

By Alan Maass | April 19, 2002 | Page 16

"IT IS the end of life." That's how one dazed man described the carnage and destruction as he fled from the Jenin refugee camp that Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers turned into a slaughterhouse.

Hundreds of Palestinians are dead. Some were executed by the IDF in groups of a half dozen or so, according to several accounts from refugees. Whole families died in the rubble of collapsed buildings, flattened without warning by Israeli bulldozers. Still others were wounded by Israeli gunfire and might have survived if an ambulance could have reached them.

But the IDF barred ambulances from Jenin. So people like 17-year-old Munir Washai suffered in agony for hours--until they bled to death.

Estimates of the deaths range as high as 500--but no one will ever know for sure. That's because Israeli forces began burying some of the victims in mass graves and transporting other corpses into Israel to disposed of them.

After first issuing an injunction to stop this blatant cover-up, Israel's Supreme Court ruled over the weekend that the IDF could do whatever it wanted with the bodies of its victims--in order to guarantee sanitary conditions in the wrecked refugee camp.

Meanwhile, for those who survived, any meaningful life that they had in Jenin has been ended, too. Much of the refugee camp--a half-square-mile area that was home to 15,000 people--has been reduced to heaps of twisted metal and broken concrete.

The assault on Jenin began with missile strikes--fired from U.S.-supplied Apache helicopter gunships. Then the tanks and bulldozers moved in, crashing down narrow streets and alleyways and crushing anything in their paths.

Israeli forces destroyed basic services, like sewage and electricity. As a result, doctors reported last weekend a new and ghastly surge of cases of intestinal diseases in newborns--because mothers were forced to feed their babies with powdered milk mixed with sewage from the streets, after the water was cut off.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces rounded up hundreds, if not thousands, of Palestinians for "questioning." The standard procedure was to force the detained to strip to their underwear at gunpoint, handcuff and blindfold them and savagely beat them.

Israeli forces kept Jenin sealed off for close to two weeks as they carried out their slaughter, then tried to hide the evidence. And no wonder. As one Israeli officer told Israel's mainstream Ha'aretz newspaper, "When the world sees the pictures of what we have done there, it will do us immense damage."

But not when it comes to Israel's best friend--the U.S. government. On the first day of his "peace" mission, Secretary of State Colin Powell traveled by helicopter to view the destruction caused by a Palestinian suicide bombing in Jerusalem--but didn't ask his hosts to show him the far greater destruction 50 miles to the north in Jenin.

And even as reports of the Jenin slaughter were emerging, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer declared: "The president believes that Ariel Sharon is a man of peace." Tens of thousands of Palestinians from Jenin and many more throughout the Occupied Territories know the truth--that Sharon is a war criminal.

But they won't surrender. They have shown that they will keep resisting Israel's terror, no matter what the cost. As Reuven Pedatzur, a defense analyst for Ha'aretz, warned: "For [Palestinians], what happened in Jenin will be a historic turning point--and this was our doing, not theirs."

We can't leave Palestinians to fight alone. We have to build the struggle in this country to cut off the economic, military and political support that the U.S. government gives to Israel.

We want justice for Palestine!

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