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Vancouver, March 6, 2003
Old city of Nablus under seige in Occupied Palestine
ISM-Vancouver activists document the Israeli Occupation Army terrorising
of civilian population
NABLUS – In
the early hours of March 6, 2003, hundreds of Israeli troops reoccupied
the old city of Nablus using tanks, armoured personnel carriers (APCs),
and tactics of inhuman brutality report ISM-Vancouver’s Carel
less than 48 hours since arriving in Nablus, we have seen Israeli
soldiers kidnap and beat civilians and medical personnel, as well
as the deliberate destruction of personal property including blasting
large holes in walls between houses and the gutting of entire homes,”
is no military resistance in the city reports Carel, the
only attacks on the soldiers have been from children throwing stones.
“The operation seems designed to terrorise and traumatise
the entire civilian population of Nablus.”
the most shocking incident, Israeli soldiers kidnapped five Palestinian
medical volunteers wearing clearly marked uniforms from the Palestinian
Red Crescent (Cross) and Union of Health Care Committees (UHCC)
and forced them to stand for an hour in a line stretching across
a narrow street leading from Arayoun Square. “One soldier
used them as a human shield as he sighted his automatic weapon down
the street between their heads,” Gordon stated.
Israeli soldier also kicked the medical volunteers, hit them with
his rifle butt and verbally abused them. One of the youngest volunteers
was singled out and interrogated at gunpoint. The soldier ripped
the boy’s knapsack off his shoulders, tore it open and dumped
the contents on to the street. “The obvious intent was to
humiliate and intimidate Palestinian medical workers, and the civilian
population in general,” explained Gordon.
another corner of Arayoun Square, a platoon of 25 Israeli Occupation
Forces (IOF) was searching several houses. “When we arrived,
the soldiers had ten men lined-up against a wall in plastic handcuffs,”
said Carel, “They forced them to stand outside for
five hours, including one man who required crutches.”
volunteers and Palestinian medical volunteers tried to negotiate
with the IOF to release the man on crutches, to allow the men to
sit down or to have food. The soldiers refused these requests.
watched and photographed as the soldiers forced a family from another
home, including two women, a baby, a toddler, and an elderly man
who had to be helped out the door,” reported Gordon. “They
all had to stand outside against a wall in a bitterly cold wind.”
Several explosions and loud crashes were audible as the soldiers
searched the house.
paramedics called to the scene explained to the IOF soldiers that
the elderly man was being treated for a serious heart condition.
ISM volunteers and the paramedics attempted to negotiate with the
soldiers to let the sick man go to the hospital and to let the women
and infants go to a neighbour’s house to get out of the cold.
The soldiers refused to negotiate.
Israeli soldiers then took the father of the children aside to interrogate
him out of the view of ISM internationals and Palestinian medical
staff – but in full view of his family who were extremely
traumatised. “We heard the soldiers yelling at him, some kicks
and thuds and suddenly the man was on the ground screaming almost
uncontrollably,” Carel recalled.
soldiers finally allowed the man to be attended by a Red Crescent
doctor, who administered a sedative and treated his wounds. “She
later told us the man had been ‘beaten very badly’ by
the soldiers and had suffered a seizure,” said Gordon. Negotiations
continued but the soldiers would not allow the man they had beaten,
nor his father with the heart condition, to be taken to hospital.
an hour of negotiations and several phone calls to human rights
groups and IOF District Command Office, the soldiers allowed the
entire family to return to their ransacked house. When the soldiers
left the area two hours later, Palestinian medical personnel were
able to attend to the sick men properly. The ten handcuffed men
have been taken into detention.
Gordon and Carel are available for interview by email.
Their email is email@example.com. Digital photos are available
is the commercial hub and largest city in the Occupied West Bank
with a population of more than 200,000. The ongoing military operation
began more than a week ago when Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF)
started occupying, searching and ransacking homes in the old city
enter a house by force, confine all the family members into one
room or force them onto the street while they “search”
the house, destroying much of the contents in the process. The Israeli
soldiers claim to be searching for specific wanted men but have
mostly resorted to mass arrests of all adult males in a household,
presumably to cover-up their inability to find any wanted men.
than one hundred houses have been ransacked or completely demolished
in the last ten days. “We’ve seen bullet holes shot
into fridges, smashed television sets and furniture, and trampled
family photos, which are especially heartbreaking,” Carel
soldiers “occupy” the house for hours or even days while
the family is kept hostage in one room, often with no food or water.
“ISM activists have been working very hard to identify the
occupied houses and to get food, medicine and water to the kidnapped
families,” Gordon noted.
the soldiers move to the next house they often blast a large hole
through the connecting wall or blow the front door off the hinges.
The soldiers routinely won’t check if they can enter a house
without force, or even if there is a house next door. “We
saw a hole 1.5 metres in diameter blown into a children's bedroom
wall and another through the wall of St. Dimitrios Orthodox Church,”
we arrived in Nablus on Tuesday night, only an occupation by ISM
volunteers was preventing the IOF from blasting a hole through the
wall of the Red Crescent Medical Clinic in the old city,”
Carel stated. After eight tense hours of negotiations and
intervention by Israeli human rights groups, the IOF finally agreed
to search the clinic using the front door, which is kept open 24
hours a day. One activist jokingly called it ISM’s “Use
the Door” campaign.
March 5, 2003 the IOF did withdraw from Nablus for one day and a
semblance of normal life returned to the once vibrant streets of
the old city. Coincidentally, a delegation from the European Union
arrived the same day to investigate reports of the military operation
from European ISM activists. The respite was sweet but short, as
the IOF returned with greater numbers and even more aggressive tactics
the next morning.
more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Reem, Coordinator of ISM-Vancouver by email at