A follow-up report from our original press release about the attack. By Michael.
Today, two ISM activists visited the site of the demolished Muqata in Nablus. Last week, from July 19th until July 21st Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) laid siege to the building, home to the Palestinian government. The two ISMers visited the site to document and observe the damage to the building following the three day offensive. The site of the building is almost completely demolished. The main building is completely leveled, and the peripheral buildings are missing most of their walls. The smaller buildings are also almost entirely destroyed, and deep tank tread marks scar the streets around. The scene at the site is solemn as some Palestinians scavenge for valuable metal, and others pick through the remains gathering what is left of the building’s records and paperwork.
Some have already begun to rebuild and clean up. The observers witnessed a man beginning to rebuild a wall, and a small tractor was moving rubble.
The siege in Nablus marks an escalation in the IOF’s attacks in the region. During the incursion, not only was the government building destroyed, but the IOF arrested many Palestinian police. During this offensive, the nearby Balata refugee camp was also invaded, and here the IOF killed 3. At the end of the attack, 9 Palestinians were killed, including 3 children, and over 80 were injured.
Also damaged in the attack was the office of the Palestinian Red Crescent, the national affiliate of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The IOF occupied the premises, actively blocking ambulances from driving into or out of the building to care for the wounded. During this time, the IOF stole three bodies from Red Crescent ambulances, saying the dead men were wanted. The army also shot tear gas into the neighborhood next to the Red Crescent, and used the facility’s lot as a staging and firing area for tanks and other military equipment.
The Red Crescent building is atop a hill that overlooks the Muqata so after documenting the Muqata, ISM activists visited with the Red Crescent and spoke with a worker. He showed the damage to the observers who photographed and recorded. During the blasting of the Muqata, doors, windows and window frames were destroyed scattering glass and metal across areas where patients were being cared for. The room that was most directly facing the blasts, normally used as a rehabilitation center for disabled children, was heavily damaged, but luckily no children were present at the time. In most of the rooms facing the blast, all of the windows were destroyed.
The ISM condemns these attacks on the democratically elected Palestinian government and on the civilian institutions providing much needed medical relief.
For more information on the attacks, please read these reports:
Ma’an News: “Israel delivers remains of three killed in Nablus Wednesday, continues siege of Al Muqata’ah“, 20th July 2006
IMEMC: “Israeli military pulls out of Nablus after 4-day siege, leaving P.A. government complex destroyed“, 23rd July 2006
The Corner Report blog: “9/11 in Nablus“, 22nd July 2006
PCHR: “IOF Attack El-Maghazi Refugee Camp in Gaza and Raid Nablus“, 19th July 2006
PRCS: “PRCS condemns attacks on health organizations and PRCS staff“, 19th July 2006