Prepared by: Members of the International Solidarity Movement in Al-Fara’ Refugee Camp.
Town of Ak-Kaaba: Masri Home
Ezzeddine Masri was a member of Hamas who made an operation killing himself and 22 israelis at the Sbarro restraunt in West Jerusalem on August 9th 2001. His action was in retaliation to an attack on a Hamas Office in Nablus on August 1, 2001. The public office was exploded by apache missiles. 8 people, 2 Hamas leaders, 4 office staff and 2 children (ages 6 and 8)walking by on the street, were killed.
The Israeli Occupation Forces arrived at the Masri home at 2am on Sunday, August 4th 2002, nearly 1 year after the operation in West Jerusalem. Their force consisted of 2 tanks, 8 jeeps and more than 200 soldiers. The soldiers kicked in the door to the house awaking Ezzeddine’s parents and 4 children (each under 4 years). They asked a neighbor to knock on the door of the adjacent house. The Occupation Forces arrested Ezzeddine’s father and three brothers. The family had 20 minutes to leave the house and the soldiers asked all of the neighbors to leave the area.
The house was exploded at about 5am. 4 neighboring houses were damaged by pieces of the house and by the concussion from the explosion itself. A large piece of the roof from the house flew over 50 meters, landing on the roof of a neighboring house and smashing a large hole in the roof. Doors were shaken from their frames, a car was destroyed, windows were shattered and there were holes in the exteriors of the neighboring houses. The stable of the Masri house was also completely destroyed leaving 20 sheep dead.
“What is our crime?” Ezzeddine’s uncle asked.
The Red cross visited the house and promised a tent which has yet to arrive.
The father and three brothers were released after 4 days of detention in Ofr detention camp, a newly established prison camp that consists of large tents. They were beaten and interrogated. One of the brothers, who showed us marks from beatings and lacerations from handcuffs, estimated that there were about 7000 palestinians held in Ofr currently.
Town of Tubas: Fukha Home
Mazen Fukha, 28, a member of Hamas was arested by the isreali occupation forces on Tuesday, August 6th 2002 under the auspices that he was suspected of helping bombers. His family has not been in contact with him and does not know where he is being held until the date of this report.
36 hours after Mazen was arrested, 4am on Thursday, 8th August 2002, the Israeli Occupation Forces came to the Fukha Home, owned by Mazen’s father. They arrived with 16 jeeps and more than 200 soldiers. They told the 9 people in the house (Mazen’s father, mother, sister, wife, brother and 4 children) to exit the house immediately. The people refused because some of the women were without proper clothes. The soldiers entered the house and told the family that they had 20 minutes to leave the house.
As they tried to save some things from the house, neighbors offered to help, but were scared away by shots fired in the air. Both Mazen’s father, Muhammad Sulieman, and his 18 year old brother, Ma’an, were arrested. The women of the family and many of the neighbors were told to go to the municipality building 500 meters up the road.
At 5:45 am, the army exploded the house with dynamite. Rubble from the house landed hundreds of yards from the house. All of the glass in the neighbors houses shattered and many of their door frames were broken from the blast.
Some neighbors were still in their homes and a man who did not understand what was happening approached the house after the soldier had left. He was knocked to the ground by the blast but did not sustain serious injuries.
The family was surprised by the operation because their son has not even had a trial following his arrest. He has not been convicted of anything let alone his entire family.
Mazens mother said: “I was born here and my grandfather and his grandfather. Why do the people from Europe and Russia have the right to live here and we do not? How does someone from Russia have the right to explode my house?”
The Red Cross visited the house and gave the family a small tent. The family does not know where either Mazen, his father, or his brother are being held.
Colm Breathnach, Dublin, Ireland
Matt Horton, Los Angeles, USA
David Jarmula, Brooklyn, USA
After staying in the camp for a week without incident, we were called back to Jerusalem for assessment and planning. It was painful and caused us to question our usefulness as internationals. We cant be with a community forever, so are we only delaying the inevitable? Is it even worth it to begin with? If anything, i guess we made beautiful friends, learned a lot and at least our Irish comrade got the issue into his country’s media.
We left the camp at 5am this morning through Tubas and down to Muasker Tiaseer (Tiaseer Army Base) where we parked in a line of cars to wait for the road to open at 5:30am. When the time came around, we were searched, questioned, passed and continued down the mountains toward Jerhico en route to Jerusalem. From the Tubas region down to the Jordan border there was nothing but military bases, beduin camps and settlements. When we reached the border, i was surprised that it was not heavily fortified (at least compared to the San Diego-Tijuana border i am used to) and i guess it is naive, but that we were close enough to see jordanian villages from the highway.
We passed two checkpoints on the highway to Jerhico where we pulled to the side to allow cars with yellow ‘israeli’ license plates to pass freely while we, with white plates, waited inspection and questioning. After turning on to the road to Jerusalem (al-Quds), we were stopped by a police jeep who also searched and questioned us.
The taxi took us to Qalandia checkpoint, between al-Quds and Ramallah, where we got another taxi to take us into Al-Quds. When we reached the checkpoint into the city, the soldiers looked at us internationals, checked our passports, didnt check any of the palestinians, and turned us around. 20 creative minutes later through residential streets, we arrived at the old city.
I am not sure how long i will be here or where i will go, but i will keep yall posted when i have the chance. Thank you for all of your letters and i hope you are all well. If you cant reach me by email, feel free to call: 011-972-6-734-9442