Silent Voices



Jerusalem – In the West Bank, stories of pain and sounds of desperation flood the ears and minds of the local residents in the aftermath of the latest Israeli incursions. Not one soul has been left untouched with his or her own personal affliction. Voices cry into the night and day for the world to hear but it seems that the Western world will not listen.

Christian mothers in Bethlehem cannot understand how other Christians around the world can close their eyes and hearts to the cries of their brothers and sisters in the city of the birthplace of Jesus Christ, their Lord and Savior. The Nativity church has been desecrated and vandalized for 26 days without much International intervention. Rumors fly through the news media regarding the situation that is occurring inside of the holy place yet no one knows the truth of the matter. On April 24th, 3 monks were able to leave the church while holding a sign in big red lettering that said, “Please Help”. A press conference was called after the immediate release of the monks but later canceled by the IDF. The IDF spokesperson said, “They are eating and resting.” He also stated that he could only tell us that there are “35-40 terrorist inside.” His concern is to “save the children” that are in the basement of the church. Negations are under way for the third day for the closure of the conflict.

On Thursday, US Agency for International Development (USAID) through UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) attempted to deliver toys to the children in Jenin that were manufactured in Israel with Hebrew written on the tags. The boxes were labeled as “a gift from the United States.” During the process of unloading the trucks a Jenin resident saw the remains of two Apache helicopter missiles that were clearly marked “Made in the U.S.A.” and said that those were the “biggest gifts from America.” The a small riot followed with the residents throwing the toys back to the aid workers telling them that they didn’t want the aid. The workers re-loaded the trucks and quickly left the area and unloaded the goods at the local UNRWA school outside of the camp. The voice of the residents came loud and clear that they did not want any aid from the United States.

Reports of sewer lines backing up in Bethlehem are creating contamination from overflow from the broken sewer lines. Palestinians need to start repairing the damaged infrastructure but the workers report either being arrested or shot at by the IDF. Mark Zeitoun, an international aid worker and water engineer estimates that “50,000 people have been continuously without access to water.”

In Jenin, the residents are suffering from severe dehydration from the lack of running water. Aid agencies continue to convene convoys of aid delivery into Jenin and Nablus in attempts to distribute crucial supplies. On Tuesday a convoy entered into Nablus and waited at the checkpoint for 8 hours before being allowed to enter. The aid that is delivered is considered to be only a drop in the bucket of what is needed inside these demolished and closed areas.

Families continue to search for their lost loved ones while digging with their bare hands through the rubble in Jenin. Local residents attempted to bring in bulldozers to help clear the area but were turned back by the IDF. A German international group of earthquake specialist attempted to enter the area to survey the damage but was turned away by the IDF stating, “they will use their own team to survey the damage.” One International aid worker who walked in with little aid stated that, “She can tell the difference in smells between a rotting corpse and animal.”

In response Amnesty International has declared April 27th and 28th International Days of Mourning to mourn all victims of the human rights abuses committed in the region since the start of the second Intifada and to demand justice and respect for human rights. Thousands of people in over 20 countries will be marking the International days of Mourning that include black flags, candles lighting and silent demonstrations. Irene Khan says, “It is time to stop playing politics using human beings as pawns.”

Susan Brannon (a.k.a Amanda White) is an American Freelance Photojournalist and MMN’s correspondent in Jerusalem.