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Israeli Terror in Al Ama'ari Camp

by Tamara Rettino/ISM Monday, Jul. 08, 2002 at 1:12 PM

I wanted to get this story out earlier but didn't have a chance...horror in Al Amari on June 39.

You should have seen her face today. Little Sarai, desperatly trying

to explain to me what was going on. We are crammed into the tiny

walking space between dwellings in the Al Ama'ari Refugee Camp in

Ramallah,surrounded by dozens of children shouting to us "Yahoud!

Yahoud!(the arabic word for Jew)" and showing us with their hands

what looked like an explosion.They warn us to cover our ears.They

have been through this before. What is shocking to us has become

routine for them. Suddenly the air is shattered with the sound of

the Isreali army blowing up a small fruit and vegetable store.We are

horrified, and quite trapped where we are. The soldiers are


Today I witnessed what creates suicide bombings, and I can assure

you without doubt it is a direct result of the Isreali's illegal

occupation of Palestine.

We walked into the Ama'ari camp upon hearing

the news that the army was invading the homes of the residents and

removing all men and boys 15-40.Immediatly we saw

soldiers filing into Pa;estinian homes, we questioned their presence and

purpose and informed them that we were international human rights

workers and that according to international law they were

performing an illegal military operation and we wanted to assure the

humane treatment of the innocent civilians they were rounding up. As

they exited each home, with young men tied and guns to their heads,

they spray painted the outside with a symbol to mark that they had

been there. We left two members of our group with a family that was

asking for protection and proceeded through the camp.What we came

upon was horrorifying. It was liking looking at pictures of nazi

camps only this wasn't a picture. 200 hundred men were seated in

groups behind barbed wire, hands tied. Again, we informed the

officers that their activities were illegal and we wanted to insure

the safe treatment of the "prisioners." After much persuasion they

allowed Louis, a 77 year old Canadian man to enter the detainment

area. He reported back that there was a little food and water and

that at least while we were watching they were not being beaten. We

wanted to continue to observe, but one commander became very angry

and told us he would drive us out of Ramallah and detain us. We

tried to negotiate the situation, but they refused to let us leave.

We were all very very calm, but suddenly the officer fired a shot

above our heads. Somehow we convinced him to let us leave the camp.

A hundred yards ahead we were stopped again by a tank. We would have

left, but we still had two members of our group inside the camp and

we wanted to check on the safety of the Palestinians remaining in

the camp. I was elected to negotiate with the soldiers.I tried to

remain as sweet and calm as possible."Please," I asked."Please, we

would like to leave, but we left our friends inside the camp and we

have to get them out.We'll come right out. We just need to get our

friends."Etc. Eventually he caved and we re-entered the camp,

reclaimed our friends (we felt horrible leaving the people

alone,they were begging us to stay and thanking us for being there,

but we had already done what we could...they military knew they were

being watched our continued presence would have resulted in either

an escalation of the situation or our arrest) and tried to exit the

camp. At which point the children spilled around the corner warning

us about the bomb. It took several negotations with soldiers,(I can

now add international military negotiator to my resume) but we

eventually made it out of the camp. While trying to meet up with two

other groups we observed more arrests on the edge of the camp...all

with guns aimed at the head and hands tied.

We spoke with a soldier outside the camp, who begged us to

leave. "Do you realize you are scaring these children? That you are

endangering not helping Israel by acting this way?" Huwaida asked.He

answered that he did not like hurting innocent people and scaring

children but these were his orders. She told him that if enough

people refused to serve in Palestine the violence would end. He told

us he had friends who had resisted. He begged us to be

careful. "There are stupid people in there who do stupid things." He

told us. He was not talking about the Palestinians.

We got safely out and instead of continuing on to Gaza as planned

(it was too late) we are now in Jerusalem for the night and will

leave for Gaza(everything could change of course at a moments

notice) in the morning. I have lots of excellent pictures, but I

just realized that I left the CD ROM for the camera in Huwaida and

Adam's computer in Ramallah. I cannot express how insane it is here.

The occupation is brutal. We met with people in a Rehab Center

yesterday. A beautiful 13 year old boy, paralyzed by the soldiers

who were using him as target practice (no joke). A young man

paralyzed in Jenin while he was driving his friend (shot in the leg)

to the hospital( he was shot in the neck). THIS IS A HOLOCAUST. You must fight please. You must

get the media to tell the truth. (I am exhausted, writing without even reading what I write, short of time and spell check, but I wanted to get the story out nonetheless.)FREE PALESTINE


Tamara Rettino

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