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Rooftop view of Bab Al-Saha square, the memorial clock tower in memory of Sultan Abdul Hamid and the Al-Nasir Mosque in the old city Nablus.

News from Nablus


Monday, January 12, 2004

Hi All, It has been a few days since I last wrote a report but that unfortunately does not mean that the Army has given up the operation here in Nablus. On the contrary the violence has continued daily, earlier in the week the Israeli army said that it had not finished its operation in Nablus and it would continue.
So every day the army has entered the city distributing leaflets calling for the wanted men to give themselves up, people have been shot and killed each time.These leaflets sound reasonable but do not resemble reality. Last week 19 people were killed, one was a 15-year-old called Amjad who was killed while throwing stones. That same afternoon, soldiers shot and killed his 18-year-old cousin Mohammed as he carried Amjad to his grave.
Arabic leaflet distributed by the IDF during the invasion of Nablus. Translation of Arabic leaflet

To the people of Nablus

The [Israeli]* Defence Force is continuing its operations in Nablus against the degenerate terrorists who are not concerned about your lives or your livelihoods or your families.

The [Israeli]* Defence Force does not want to harm the innocent. But it will spare no effort to use all the means available to it to hit the terrorists and to inflict damage on them and on those who assist them and on the their infrastructure.

The majority of Palestinian citizens wish to see an end to violence. But the terrorists have one goal and that is to create anarchy and to destroy any hope of building a Palestinian society that serves the citizens and future generations.

Do not assist terrorism which in the end damages the Palestinian society and leads you to paths with no exits and stops your return to live your lives in a natural and secure manner and to make an honourable living.

Leadership of the [Israeli]* Defense Force

*This bracketed word [Israeli] is not in the original text

Nothing could be seen from the market street, it was too dangerous to approach the tank through the smoke.
Three days ago a jeep suddenly arrived at our end of Balata camp as we were about to leave for Nablus, it just parked in the road doing nothing. At the other end of the camp I could see lots of smoke in the sky. Two of us decided to stay and watch the jeep and Erik and myself went to investigate the smoke.
When we arrived we could see that a tank was pouring out smoke and covering the Mosque in a dense cloud of evil smelling smoke. From where we were we could not tell what was happening so we moved through the back alleys and came out above the tank. As far as we could tell there was nothing going on and although the tank was supported by jeeps they did not seem to be deploying troops.
From near Jacobs Well we could make out the tank through the smoke.

Eventually we made our way up on to the roof of a house to see if we could see if there were more tanks on Jerusalem Road as people had said there were. There was only one solitary jeep. We then returned to our house to find that the jeep was now right outside surrounded by black engine oil. At first I assumed that it had been thrown at the jeep by the children, the jeeps engine sounded very rough and was making a lot of noise. When it finally tried to drive away, the engine stalled and would not restart! All the engine oil had run out. They were in need of rescue and obviously feeling very vulnerable as they started shooting with live ammunition wounding two people; one in the leg and one in the shoulder. Another jeep arrived and laid down a smoke screen. When it cleared we could see that the jeep had inadvertently been towed into an open manhole and was now tilted over at a considerable angle and well stuck! A Hummer now appeared and another smoke screen was set up. When it finally cleared the army was gone and an ambulance came and took the wounded to hospital.
That morning I had done my laundry which now stank of tear gas and smoke!
The UPMRC ambulance once more picks up the casualties as the army disappears.
Yesterday while I was in Nablus we had word that the army was in Askar so we made our way there.
It was late afternoon and they had occupied a house during the previous night but we only became aware of the fact after lunch. It was decided that two of us would go and try and talk to the soldiers so Samantha and I approached the house and started to call out to the soldiers. We had wanted some of the Palestinians to come and control the children but they did not think it was necessary. As soon as we arrived children also arrived making things difficult but eventually we managed to speak with the soldiers and they agreed that if we brought food they would let us in to see the family.

When we returned with the food, the children also followed us. When the soldiers came to open the door, they realized that the children were there and someone up in the house threw down a sound bomb which frightened the hell out of us but did manage to get rid of the children!

The soldiers had now changed their mind about letting us in and we were only allowed to hand in the food to two very nervous gun toting soldiers. Later that night they left and today when we talked to the family we learnt that two families totaling 14 people had been held in one room for 15 hours. The soldiers had delivered our food to them but not told them who it was from. The house had been occupied on the same date last year for some reason and when told this by the family the soldiers had said that next year they would drink coffee with them in Jerusalem! Not sure what was meant by that.

Today we saw two men arrested: the first was a taxi driver who was dragged out of the taxi and taken away leaving the taxi in the middle of the road without keys. Erik and I helped to bump it to the side of the road, no one knew why this had happened just another random piece of harassment? The second man was at Azmut checkpoint where Erik and I were doing checkpoint watch, when the man asked the soldiers why he was not being allowed through. They started pushing him and he pushed back. Any sort of resistance is not tolerated and he was handcuffed and eventually taken away.

I'm not sure how many more people have been killed since my last report but at least two that I have heard of. Also two UPMRC ambulance drivers have been injured by the soldiers at checkpoints around Nablus; one was from Jenin who was beaten up. The other was my friend Firaz who had his leg badly crushed at the Beit Furik checkpoint by the gate being forcibly pushed against him. He is unable to walk at the moment and is in considerable pain but the leg is not broken and he hopes to be back at work in a couple of weeks. We also started removing a road block which we hope to complete once we are able to remove the large concrete blocks that are part of it. Yesterday we could not budge them due to their weight, we are now working on that problem.

Hope to be a bit more punctual and regular getting out reports, in Peace Dave.

This roadblock was preventing access to the Balata cemetery.

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