Press Release from Dheisheh Refugee Camp

Thursday, 23 March 2000
From Muna Muhaisen, Bethlehem

For Immediate Release
Dheisheh Refugee Camp
Confrontations in Dheisheh Refugee Camp Following Popeís Visit

Following the Pope's historic visit to Dheisheh Refugee Camp on
Wednesday 22 March 2000, and the truly remarkable reception organized
by the various organizations and local activists in the camp with the
participation of thousands of guests from the District of Bethlehem
and other Palestinian districts, a fight erupted between a camp
resident and a Palestinian policeman. All the national activists in
Dheisheh immediately intervened to contain the incident.

Yet the chief of police in the District of Bethlehem issued orders to
forcibly storm the camp. The fact that the police attacked houses
inside the camp, smashing windows and severely beating tens of
residents prompted a crowd of young men from the camp to assemble in
order to defend themselves and their homes. Nearly 50 people were
injured and the police attack then extended to the local hospital
where those injured were being treated.

The ensuing events following the Popeís departure from the camp had
nothing whatsoever to do with his holinessís visit, and we thank the
Holy See for making this historic visit to our refugee camp. It was
solely the action taken by the chief of police in Bethlehem which led
to the spread of confrontations.

We, in Dheisheh Refugee Camp strongly deplore the actions of the
police. We emphatically hold the chief of police in the District of
Bethlehem fully responsible for the events. We further announce the
establishment of a committee to follow up this issue and clarify the
events which took place. The follow-up committee will coordinate its
efforts with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority and the
national activists in the other refugee camps as well as in the
District of Bethlehem, in order to: Contain the events; hold those
responsible accountable; and make the results public.
For further Information, please contact:
Follow-up Committee
Dheisheh Refugee Camp