In the early hours of March 6 hundreds of Israeli troops
reoccupied the old city of Nablus using tanks, APCs, and tactics of inhuman
brutality report ISM-Vancouver’s Carel Moieiwitsch and Gordon Murray. "In
less than 48 hours since arriving in Nablus, we have seen Israeli soldiers
kidnap and beat civilians and medical personnel, as well as the deliberate
destruction of personal property including blasting large holes in walls between
houses and the gutting of entire homes,” said Murray. (Getty Images)...
Old City of Nablus Under Seige in Occupied Palestine
Sunday, March 09 2003 @ 10:18 AM GMT ISM-
Vancouver Activists Document the Israeli Occupation Army
Terrorising of Civilian Population
In the early hours of March 6, 2003, hundreds of Israeli troops reoccupied
the old city of Nablus using tanks, armoured personnel carriers APCs), and
tactics of inhuman brutality report ISM-Vancouver’s Carel Moieiwitsch
and Gordon Murray.
“In less than 48 hours since arriving in Nablus, we have seen Israeli
soldiers kidnap and beat civilians and medical personnel, as well as the
deliberate destruction of personal property including blasting large holes
in walls between houses and the gutting of entire homes,” said Murray.
There is no military resistance in the city reports Moiseiwitsch, the only
attacks on the soldiers have been from children throwing stones. “The
operation seems designed to terrorise and traumatise the entire civilian
population of Nablus.”
In the most shocking incident, Israeli soldiers kidnapped five Palestinian
Medical volunteers wearing clearly marked uniforms from the Palestinian
Red-Crescent (Cross) and Union of Health Care Committees (UHCC) and forced
them to stand for an hour in a line stretching across a narrow street
leading from Arayoun Square. “One soldier used them as a human shield as
he sighted his automatic weapon down the street between their heads,”
The Israeli soldier also kicked the medical volunteers, hit them with his
rifle butt and verbally abused them. One of the youngest volunteers was
singled out and interrogated at gunpoint. The soldier ripped the boy’s
knapsack off his shoulders, tore it open and dumped the contents on to the
streets “The obvious intent was to humiliate and intimidate Palestinian
medical-workers, and the civilian population in general,” explained
In another corner of Arayoun Square, a platoon of 25 Israeli Occupation
Forces (IOF) was searching several houses. “When we arrived, the
soldiers had ten men lined-up against a wall in plastic handcuffs,” said
Moiseiwitsch, “They forced them to stand outside for five hours,
including one man who required crutches.”
ISM volunteers and Palestinian medical volunteers tried to negotiate with
the IOF to release the man on crutches, to allow the men to sit down or to
have food. The soldiers refused these requests.
“We watched and photographed as the soldiers forced a family from
another home, including two women, a baby, a toddler, and an elderly man
who had to be helped out the door,” reported Murray. “They all had to
stand outside against a wall in a bitterly cold wind.” Several
explosions and loud crashes were audible as the soldiers searched the
Palestinian paramedics called to the scene explained to the IOF soldiers
that the elderly man was being treated for a serious heart condition. ISM
volunteers and the paramedics attempted to negotiate with the soldiers to
let the sick man go to the hospital and to let the women and infants go to
a neighbour’s house to get out of the cold. The soldiers refused to
The Israeli soldiers then took the father of the children aside to
interrogate him out of the view of ISM internationals and Palestinian
medical staff – but in full view of his family who were extremely
traumatised. “We heard the soldiers yelling at him, some kicks and thuds
and suddenly the man was on the ground screaming almost uncontrollably,”
The soldiers finally allowed the man to be attended by a Red Crescent
doctor, who administered a sedative and treated his wounds. “She later
told us the man had been ‘beaten very badly’ by the soldiers and had
suffered a seizure,” said Murray. Negotiations continued but the
soldiers would not allow the man they had beaten, nor his father with the
heart condition, to be taken to hospital.
After an hour of negotiations and several phone calls to human rights
groups and IOF District Command Office, the soldiers allowed the entire
family to return to their ransacked house. When the soldiers left the area
two hours later, Palestinian medical personnel were able to attend to the
sick men properly. The ten handcuffed men have been taken into detention.
Nablus is the commercial hub and largest city in the Occupied West Bank
with a population of more than 200,000. The ongoing military operation
began more than a week ago when Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) started
occupying, searching and ransacking homes in the old city of Nablus.
Troops enter a house by force, confine all the family members into one
room or force them onto the street while they “search” the house,
destroying much of the contents in the process. The Israeli soldiers claim
to be searching for specific wanted men but have mostly resorted to mass
arrests of all adult males in a household, presumably to cover-up their
inability to find any wanted men.
More than one hundred houses have been ransacked or completely demolished
in the last ten days. “We’ve seen bullet holes shot into fridges,
smashed television sets and furniture, and trampled family photos, which
are especially heartbreaking,” Moiseiwitsch said.
The soldiers “occupy” the house for hours or even days while the
family is kept hostage in one room, often with no food or water. “ISM
activists have been working very hard to identify the occupied houses and
to get food, medicine and water to the kidnapped families,” Murray
When the soldiers move to the next house they often blast a large hole
through the connecting wall or blow the front door off the hinges. The
soldiers routinely won’t check if they can enter a house without force,
or even if there is a house next door. “We saw a hole 1.5 metres in
diameter blown into a children's bedroom wall and another through the wall
of St. Dimitrios Orthodox Church,” said Murray.
“When we arrived in Nablus on Tuesday night, only an occupation by ISM
volunteers was preventing the IOF from blasting a hole through the wall of
the Red Crescent Medical Clinic in the old city,” Moiseiwitsch stated.
After eight tense hours of negotiations and intervention by Israeli human
rights groups, the IOF finally agreed to search the clinic using the front
door, which is kept open 24 hours a day. One activist jokingly called it
ISM’s “Use the Door” campaign.
On March 5, 2003 the IOF did withdraw from Nablus for one day and a
semblance of normal life returned to the once vibrant streets of the old
city. Coincidentally, a delegation from the European Union arrived the
same day to investigate reports of the military operation from European
ISM activists. The respite was sweet but short, as the IOF returned with
greater numbers and even more aggressive tactics the next morning.
For more information about ISM-Vancouver visit our website at contact
the ISM-Vancouver coordinator, Reem Alnueri by email at .
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