By Suleiman Bisharaat
|Islam Online, March 15, 2011
“The children are out of bread and milk…even the water is almost gone. Electricity has been cut off from several homes…ambulances and medical staff are denied entrance into the village”; a cry for help reported by Salah Awad from the village of Awarta, east of Nablus in the West Bank, that suffers, for the fourth consecutive day, a curfew imposed upon them by the occupation, resulting from the death of five settlers in the settlement areas surrounding the village.
With words that carry with them great anguish, Awad sends out a plea through Islam Online to all human rights institutions, and the National Red Cross to interfere in the situation as soon as possible before a humanitarian crisis takes place in the anguished village. This is in addition to the raids and searching of homes carried out by the occupation forces, as well as the detention of dozens of civilians.
The five settlers were killed at dawn on Saturday March 12th, after their settlement area, “Itamar” was raided. Due to the incident, the occupation forces established the siege on the area. Settler groups also began to target Palestinian vehicles and homes in nearby cities.
Awad describes in a statement to Islam Online that what is happening within the village: “the occupation today is exercising collective punishment against children, women, and the elderly. No one, since Saturday, is allowed to enter or leave the village. Even the ambulances and the Palestinian Red Crescent were not allowed to come near the village.”
Awad continued by saying: “the village’s only bakery has been closed for the past four days. The civilians are almost out of bread, and there is no other way to get it. All stores are closed as well; therefore, basic groceries are also running out.”
According to Awad, the suffering is not only limited to adults, but children as well, are experiencing a shortage in milk that became almost nonexistent in village homes. The residents did not have the chance to replenish their food storage, because they were oblivious to the fact that the village may be under siege.
Awad sends out a plea to all international organizations, especially the International Red Cross committee, to interfere and to provide basic food supplies to the village residents, especially milk for the children and medical supplies. According to him, the longer the siege takes, the more anguish the villagers will suffer.
Awad points out, that roughly one thousand soldiers are deployed throughout the village, where they seized several homes and transformed them into military barracks, detaining the original residents of the homes to a single room, not allowing them to leave or providing them with basic needs such as food or water.
The population of Awarta is roughly 7,000 people, where its residents depend mainly on agriculture. Due to this, not only is the siege implicating their daily living, but the settlement of “Itamar” already took up about 3,000 acres of their farmlands.
Arrests and detentions
On his said, Qais Awad, President of the village council, said that the occupation forces announced that all residents between the ages of 15-40 must report to the village’s girls’ high school.
He explained that the soldiers told the residents that the police will come to take their finger prints. He said that the soldiers physically abused those who do not act as they are told, while they detained 5 residents and declared Awarta and close military area.
Qais described the situation as tragic, pointing out that the residents are experiencing a shortage of bread, and milk for the children, along with several basic food supplies. He stated that the occupation forces also deny the residents access to healthcare facilities in nearby cities, such as Nablus.
The settlers’ actions
On the other hand, vigilante settler groups conducted a series of operations targeting Palestinian villages. Since the morning of March 14th, several Palestinian cars have been reported burnt, as well several resident homes that have been raided and vandalized.
In the village of Jinsafut, in the Qalqilya governorate, the settler group raided the village and burnt two cars, as well as hurling stones at a resident’s home and then retreated without harming any residents.
In the governorate of Ramallah, the settlers of Beit El burnt two cars in the agricultural area of Al-Dahieh in the village of Dura Al-Qar’.
The settler groups also closed the roads surrounding and leading to the governorate of Hebron and vandalized the residents’ vehicles with stones. At the same instance, armed settlers raided the home of one of the residents, harming him, as well as a number of surrounding homes.
The ousted Palestinian government in Gaza warned from the Israelis exploiting the death of the settlers to justify “acts of aggression” against Gaza, at a time when the occupation decided to build 500 settlement areas in the West Bank.
The government stated in a press conference that it is “closely following the Israeli escalation against the our Palestinian people and their push to raid Gaza as a result of the killing that occurred in the Itamar settlement as a means to justify aggression acts against Gaza.”
It added that “the Palestinian opposition and Hamas denied any involvement with the Itamar incident, and we do not underestimate that there might be a criminal background to this incident.”
On his side, Mahmoud Abbas described the incident as “inhumane, immoral, and must be punished.”
Abbas also said in an interview conducted by the Israeli radio Monday morning: “no human can commit such an act. I cannot see a four-month-old infant killed. No human can see such a thing without feeling sorrow for what they see.”
He clarified that “the Palestinian authority would have prevented such an aggression if it had previous knowledge,” pointing out that he agreed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with regards to an investigation of the incident.
No Palestinian group took responsibility for the incident so far, while others believed the likelihood of the incident having a criminal background.
:: Article nr. 75895 sent on 16-mar-2011 04:42 ECT