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I Was Shot While Escorting Jenin's School Children

shocking to read this . . .

CounterPunch, November 23, 2002

I Was Shot While Escorting Jenin's School Children


(Interviewed by Annie Higgins)

In today's reinvasion of Jenin Refugee Camp, the Israeli Occupation Forces made the bottom section of the camp into a closed military zone in the morning, using about twelve tanks, ten jeeps, and at

least two Apache helicopter gunships. I had been trying to get between the unarmed children and the tanks, when I received a call from a friend who wanted me to evacuate her sick daughter as the Army would not let any ambulances through. I went with a friend who is a Palestinian journalist, and we were immediately arrested, along with another international volunteer, and taken to a place where about twenty Palestinian men were being held. They were blindfolded, handcuffed, stripped to their trousers or underwear, and beaten severely. After I was detained for two hours and interrogated briefly, the Israeli soldiers said that I was free to go. I asked permission to remain with the men, hoping to minimise the violence, but the soldiers refused, saying it was not allowed. When I refused

to leave, I was forcibly dragged away, pulled down the road, and told that if I returned to the area I would be shot.

I went back the way I had come, past the United Nations compound.

There I spoke briefly with Iain Hook, Project Manager of UNRWA

[United Nations Relief Works Agency] in Jenin, who said he was

trying to negotiate with the soldiers for women and children to go

home. He came out of the UN compound waving a blue UN flag,

and the soldiers' only response was to broadcast with their

microphone in English, "We don't care if you are the United Nations

or who you are. Fuck off and go home!" They were trying to go

home. Iain said that things were not going well. He insisted that he

wanted to provide safe passage for his forty Palestinian workers and

himself using legal means, i.e., official coordination with the Ar


Some worried parents had begun to knock a hole in the wall at the

back of the compound to evacuate children who were there for a

vaccination programme. We accompanied some of the children


After this, I headed again to the sick girl's house. On the way I met a

group of children who told me that a ten-year-old friend of mine,

Muhammad Bilalo, had been killed and three children had been

wounded by tank fire, one of whom sustained brain damage. So I

went to where the children were gathered, and the tanks were firing

on them erratically. I walked down the road between the children

and the tanks until I was fifty meters from the tank, where I tried to

dialogue with the soldiers. I implored them not to shoot live

ammunition at unarmed children. At that point, they stopped their

shooting. A few moments later, an APC drove up to the tank [an

armed personnel carrier, like a tank with all the armour except a

cannon]. I could see their faces very clearly and I imagine they could

see mine also. I had seen both of these tanks earlier in the day. A

soldier raised his upper body and his gun out of the hatch of the

second vehicle and began shooting. At first he shot into the air, and

most of the children dispersed, running into an alley on the left side

of the street. About three small children remained, however, and I

tried physically to get them to the alley, dragging and pushing them.

I looked back over my shoulder and could see the soldier in the

APC pointing his gun at me from about one hundred meters. Near

the entrance to the alley, I was shot in the thigh. When I fell they

continued shooting in my direction. I crawled part of the way up the

alley, and then some of the youngsters dragged me up the rest of

the way. No ambulances were allowed into the camp, so I was

carried on a makeshift stretcher to where a Red Crescent

ambulance could reach me near the entrance of the camp. While I

was in the Emergency Room of Jenin Hospital, Iain Hook of

UNRWA was brought in. He died a few minut

es later.

We have been told that when he was shot, the Israeli Army

prohibited a clearly marked UN ambulance from evacuating him and

transporting him for nearly an hour, during which time he lost much

blood. Finally the ambulance crew evacuated him by taking him out

by the back wall that employees had broken down earlier.

Having been present in the Camp all morning, I can testify that any

Palestinian fighters had stopped shooting a good two hours before

either of us was wounded. When I passed the UN compound in the

morning, it was surrounded by Israeli Army snipers and soldiers who

were shooting erratically into the Camp. Two people were killed and

six wounded. All but one were shot by tank fire outside what the

Army deemed a closed military zone. I was not caught up in any

kind of crossfire as the Israeli Occupation Forces are falsely stating,

and I don't believe that Iain was either.

The massacre has not stopped. Human rights violations and war

crimes seen so blatantly across the world in April of this year

continue on a daily basis in Jenin. Yesterday, with the casual killings

that marked it, was not an unusual day in Jenin. It has become a

potentially suicidal act to engage in the most basic acts of survival.

The Israeli Occupation Forces engage again and again in a shoot-

to-kill policy without regard as to whether its targets are civilians or

armed fighters. Israelis have been shown in April that they can get

away with a massacre, and that all the international condemnation

in the world cannot get one ambulance in to evacuate a wounded


Thus the lack of accountability on Israel's part has become bolder

as the events witnessed yesterday become almost standard. These

are not military campaigns. They are acts of terror designed to

humiliate, brutalise, and bully Palestinians into subjugation. They

are being denied not only the right to resist, but to exist.

Annie Higgins in Jenin (tel: + 972-67-540-298)



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