The ongoing bloodbath: Not just Jenin

It is strange -to say the least- to view the war of words that evolved about what happened in the Jenin refugee camp in particular, and other Palestinian areas, most notably Nablus, in general.

Strange for a number of reasons, particularly because it cannot be described in any term other than massacre, because Jenin was only one of many massacres that took place, because these massacres were and still are ongoing, throughout this Palestinian Intifada.

It cannot be described in any other term, because a massacre is not defined by a certain number of people getting killed, but by the acts of the perpetrators. Is it no longer a massacre when the wanton killings are 50 as opposed to 100 ? Or 20 as opposed to 200 ?

Fifteen thousand people were besieged in a refugee camp, and shot at indiscriminately with guns, tanks and helicopter missiles, with homes bulldozed and leveled on top of the inhabitants inside, without any regard for human life. That is the massacre, that is the crime.

Ambulances and rescue workers were not allowed in to evacuate the dead, and those wounded were left to bleed to death, or die slowly underneath the rubble. That is the massacre, that is the crime.

Witnesses from inside the camp spoke of the horrors, of the bodies that were bulldozed away into mass graves, or driven off in truckloads. [1]

No journalists were allowed in or close to the camp throughout the siege, and after all was said and done, the UN inquiry team was blocked against the will of the international community, in an attempt to hide this massacre further. 

That is the massacre, that is the crime.

Ongoing simultaneously, and in no less horrific conditions, was the slaughter of civilians in Nablus, which has been overlooked by the tragic murders of their brethren in Jenin. The reports from Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights groups alike, of indiscriminate killings, use of people as human shields, bombings, medical prevention to the dying and wounded, and other types of atrocious behavior, prove the extent of war crimes committed there too. Actually, one need not look any farther that the posters of Palestine’s martyred children on the walls of Nablus and other West Bank towns.[2]

The other issue that has to be noted, and constantly revived till the world puts a stop to these crimes, is that these massacres are parts of a continuous onslaught to shed more Palestinian blood. In the last 20 months of the current Al-Aqsa Intifada against Israeli occupation, 1570 Palestinians have been killed, and 19,297 injured. (These are likely underestimates due to the difficulty in  accessing many areas, and the rapid rise in deaths following the Israeli invasions starting March 29th.) These have resulted from atrocities on a large scale such as the Jabalya massacre, or those that are just as heart-wrenching and less noticed in the international media, such as the murder of 5 schoolboys on November 22, 2001, by an Israeli ordnance.[3]

The ongoing slaughter of defenceless Palestinians in Jenin, Nablus and throughout the West Bank towns and Gaza Strip, has now been added to the long list of dark Israeli chapters in history : Deir Yassin and Dawayma in 1948, Qibya in 1953, Gaza in 1971, Sabra & Shatilla in 1982, Al-Aqsa Mosque Massacre in 1990, The Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre in 1994, Jenin & Nablus in 2002.

The souls and memories of those killed must be kept alive, through the collective efforts of human conscience worldwide, working together to fight this deafening silence, and end this tragedy once and for all, lest they have died in vain.

May they rest in peace.


[1] See report in Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz dated April 12, 2002 by Anat Cygielman, Amos Harel and Amira Hass: IDF Bulldozers Buried Jenin Dead Palestinians Say.

[2] See report in Newsday dated May 12, 2002 by Matthew McAllester : Palestinian Town’s Untold Devastation.

[3] See, Jabalya: 22 Palestinians killed in refugee camp, and  Report of Defence for Children International/ Palestine Section, dated Nov. 23, 2001.