21 October 2001
It is difficult to describe what is going on at present in the Palestinian occupied territories in view of the Israeli occupation army’s invasion of six cities in the West Bank -- Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqilya, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem-Beit Jala. For three consecutive days the Israeli army has been continuously bombarding and attempting to reoccupy Palestinian cities. With its tanks, attack helicopters, and heavy artillery, the Israeli army is leaving a trail of death, injury, fear, and destruction.
This invasion followed the assassination of three young men from the Palestinian resistance movement in an explosion of their booby-trapped car in Beit Sahour. During this brief three-day period, ten people have been killed and dozens injured. Half of those killed were civilians shot by Israeli snipers. Most of the injured are civilians. The Aida and Azza refugee camps in Bethlehem are suffering the most. Heavy machine guns are shooting at all that moves. Even Manger Square, in the center of Bethlehem, has not been spared the presence of Israeli snipers. Yesterday, nineteen-year-old John Thaljiyeh was shot in the chest while standing in Manger Square. He was brought to our clinic in Beit Sahour and declared dead on arrival.
The hospital in Bethlehem is running out of medical supplies and blood as the Israeli tanks in the surroundings of the hospital are making it nearly impossible to reach the hospital.
Employees from our center in Beit Sahour, as well as many volunteers from the local community have begun to donate blood. To date, 32 units of blood have been sent to the hospital in a Red Crescent ambulance. Bethlehem and Beit Jala are being attacked from the north, west, and south. Only the exit to Beit Sahour is still open and most probably, it is only a matter of time before Beit Sahour is also invaded.
In order to deal with the crisis in the Bethlehem area, as well as throughout the West Bank, all medical facilities of the Health Work Committees are remaining open twenty-four hours a day.
It is unlikely that the Palestinian people who are outnumbered, less-equipped, and lacking proper infrastructure, will give up their right to fight for freedom and independence. It is more likely that the Palestinians will still have to pay a much higher price.
The loss of vision of Sharon’s government has caused widespread apprehension. If the Palestinian people want freedom and independence, what do Sharon and his government want? Security and military occupation are mutually exclusive. This bloodshed must stop. The Israeli occupation must be ended. The loss of even one life is one life too much.
Dr. Majed Nassar
Deputy Director, HWC
Health Work Committees/Beit Sahour Medical Center
POB 44, Beit Sahour, Palestine