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Israeli forces commit massacre in Jenin refugee camp

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Israeli forces, comprising of more than 150 tanks, armored personnel carriers and artillery, backed by F-16 fighter jets, continue to attack Jenin refugee camp, home to 15,000 Palestinian refugees, living on one square kilometer. Since April 3, Israeli forces have shelled the refugee camp, with various heavy weaponry, including missiles, artillery, and other heavy ammunition.
Water and electricity networks have been destroyed. Food and medicine supplies are prevented from reaching the refugee camp. Dozens of residents have been killed and injured. Many bodies are left under the rubble of demolished shelters and in the streets and alleyways of the camp.

According to information gathered by LAW from various official medical sources and eye-witnesses in Jenin and the refugee camp, the number of casualties and wounded, including women, children and the aged, is increasing at a frightening rate. Each hour tens of casualties and wounded civilians are reported. Ambulances and medical personnel are not allowed access to the refugee camp and are prevented from evacuating the dead and the wounded. All sources confirmed that for the past four days no corpse or wounded has reached any hospital or medical center in Jenin. Paramedics have been unable to provide any medical aid, as they are prevented by the Israeli forces by force.

Since Sunday (April 7, 2002) evening 8 o'clock until this moment, tens of Israeli tanks and seven Israeli attack helicopters have continued to shell the refugee camp with heavy artillery and missiles. In the past 16 hours, more than two hundred missiles and artillery shells have been fired on the refugee camp, killing at least 50 residents. More than 100 residents have been killed in the past three days. Sources have failed to document the exact number of those killed, injured, and missing. Bodies are left in the alleyways and tens of injured have been left bleeding without any medical aid.

Calls received by LAW confirm that throughout yesterday and day, the smell of dead bodies is spreading across the refugee camp. Each minute an injured dies due to the lack of medical attention. Sources confirmed that, since the past 24 hours, the refugee camp has run out of key supplies, including water, food and medical supplies. Sources from the refugee camp have stated that despite calls they have been forced to drink waste water. Quite apart from the food and water crisis, sources, including Jenin hospital, confirmed that the camp suffers a health crisis. The director of the hospital stated that the capacity of Jenin hospital has been crippled due to the destruction of a number of its services and the continuation of Israeli shelling.

According to LAW, since early morning, tens of Israeli bulldozers are randomly demolishing refugee shelters to make room for Israeli tanks and armored personnel carriers to the camp. This has been accompanied by air and surface shelling. Omar Steiti, who works at Jenin hospital and who witnessed the situation in the refugee camp stated that "a massacre or genocide is now taking place in the camp."

LAW condemns these mass killings and attacks on civilians, which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, clearly violating the Fourth Geneva Convention, and potentially the Genocide Convention (1948). LAW calls on immediate intervention to end these war crimes.

LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment is a non-governmental organisation dedicated to preserving human rights through legal advocacy. LAW is affiliate to the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Federation Internationale des Ligues de Droits de l'Homme (FIDH) and the World Organisation Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

LAW - The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment, PO Box 20873, Jerusalem, tel. +972-2-5833530, fax. +972-2- 5833317, email: law@lawsociety.org.