Situation in the Holy Land by East Jerusalem YMCA
March 12, 2002

Dear friends and partners,

Since more than two weeks till now, the Israeli occupation is waging a complete destructive war against us. Their violations of our basic human rights and provisions of both the 4th Geneva Convention and other International Covenants on Human Rights, as documented by Amnesty and other International Human Rights organizations, were in its peak.

Attacking and re-occupying our cities, villages and the refugee camps is a clear declaration of war against the whole Palestinian nation and not only its Authority. It is especially cruel to do this to refugee camps after ethnically cleansing people from their lands.

The Israeli occupation army has invented a special method for its house-to-house searches by walking and driving through the walls to protect its soldiers from the Palestinian freedom fighters. The military attacks continued throughout day and night , while Red Crescent and UN ambulances have been prevented from reaching the wounded and are being shot at. Many doctors and Medical Aids were killed or injured due to this barbarian acts. Eye witnesses reported that many injured were left on the streets, some of them were left in front of their children,  bleeding till they die. The 11 year old kid who was left bleeding till his death at Qalandia check point is a clear evident on such brutal treatment. The Israeli  tanks supported by Apache helicopters and F-16's warplanes attacked various areas in Palestine killing and injuring many people, destroying their homes and residences, destroying buildings, offices, police stations and other infra structures. Sharon's army has reached its lowest morals, converting Palestinian schools into torture and interrogating chambers to question the thousands of Palestinians who were arrested during these raids. Cutting the electricity, the telephone lines and the water supplies on thousands of people is a clear act of Collective Punishment. Bulldozing vast agricultural lands demolishing homes for no reason is another war crime which needs to be addressed.  The tight siege, the blockades, digging the streets and putting cement blocks and sands forbid people from going to work and from reaching hospitals for medical treatment. In many areas especially in the refugee camps there is a shortage of food, water and milk for the infants. The Israeli forces prevented the surrounding areas from helping the camps by providing them with the necessary food supply. There is a threat of starvation in some villages and in all refuge camps.

Who would believe that at this very moment the same US government which is waging a global campaign against terrorism,  is supporting and funding the Israeli state terrorism with about $5 billion per year which is about $14 million per day. It is really hard to imagine that such crimes are permitted by the international community in the year 2002.

We in the East Jerusalem YMCA were badly effected by these measures. Many of our staff is locked inside the areas under total curfews. Most of our activities are frozen. The staff can't reach their offices and their clients to provide them with the needed support. Many of our staffs' homes were hit and shelled.  The car of one of our staff in Bethlehem was damaged. We fear that some of our staff was arrested but we don't have concrete information yet.  Our offices in Tulkarem  and Jenin were hit and the entrance doors were destroyed and removed. The soldiers entered the two offices and we don't have information on what was taken from the offices. We, in the management team, are not able to meet or even to communicate regularly with each other and with our staff.

Beside this, the entire organization is passing through a very difficult financial crises which forbid us from giving our staff their salaries for the last month. This add to the difficulty of our staff maintain their and their families lives. We are not sure whether we will be able to give them salaries for this month too.

Many people are looking at the YMCA in this difficult time for help and support but we are ourselves at stake.

We appeal to you with anger, frustration but also with hope to stop this massacre against us. It is impossible for the entire world to keep silent when it comes to Israel.  We urge you to write to your governments, parliamentarians asking them to interfere. We urge you to write to President Bush to include Israel and Zionism in his war against terrorism. We urge you to write Sharon and his embassies to stop this war against the whole Palestinian nation.

Albert Einstein wrote once that "The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

Till then we remain,

Rifat Odeh Kassis
East Jerusalem YMCA
29 Nablus Road, P.O.Box 19023 East Jerusalem
tel: +972-2-6286888 fax:+972-2-6276301
mobile: 052-561393
telefax: +972-2-2775641