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the reoccupation:

Bethlehem Update / Come to Demonstrate Today & Tomorrow!

Marina Barham reports from Bethlehm five days after the invasion

Shirabe Yamada, Marina Barham

14 Mar. 2002

Dear Friends,

Below is a letter from Marina Barham in Beit Jala, a town next to Bethlehem. She runs a children's theater called "Inad Theater" which has been shelled numerous times since Intifada began.

If you are in NY area, please come to the demonstration in front of US Mission to UN, today and tomorrow.



EMERGENCY PROTEST outside the US Mission to the UN This Thursday and Friday (3/15 + 3/16) 8:30am - 5:30 pm (45th Street & 1st Avenue)

We must maintain a constant presence in front of the US mission to let them know we are here and we demand action now!

The US continues to veto UN resolutions calling for international protection for Palestinian civilians. Palestinians have been calling for international protection since the beginning of the Intifada.


Dear Friends,

The fifth day has passed on the third invasion of our town Beit Jala, Bethlehem, AL-Douhah, AL-Khader, Irtas villages and Dheisheh, Aida and Azza refugee camps. After the humiliation that the men ages 14-50 years old went through yesterday, Dheisheh refugee camp was left fully destroyed. Homes of tens of families, roads, the whole infrastructure of the camp destroyed by the Israeli tanks and bulldozers. While all the men were gathered together to be arrested, hundreds of houses were searched leaving them either demolished or totally dismantled. Children and women terrorized. The children in Annoud drama group, Tamara 14, and Hanin 12 years, were terrified seeing their fathers, relatives and neighbors brutalized. Many of our friends at Ibdaa Children center were also arrested. Dheisheh still surrounded by Israeli tanks until this moment.
I got a message on my mobile today at about 8:00pm from my friend and colleague Mohammed Awwad asking me to pray for them, because their building is being shelled by Israeli tanks. I could not believe the
message; I called Mohammed who sounded terrified. He said that a tank drove towards their building and started shelling. He said that his mother and two sisters are lying on the floor trying to keep safe from the shells. His neighbors were in more danger because their flat faced the front of the tank. I kept calling Mohammed to make sure he was safe with his family. Mohammed said that the building was badly damaged, but they were very lucky to be alive. The tanks stopped the shelling and they withdrew from their neighborhood.

Mervat my cousin, who lives in Aida refugee camp has been stuck under the staircase of her house with her five daughters, the last one is one month old. Mervat has been for the last five days alone with her daughters and her mother-in-law with a broken hip, because her husband Munther could not get back home from work on the day they invaded Bethlehem area. Munther has been stuck in Augusta Victoria Hospital where he works in painting walls. Munther and Mervat have been going through hell, during the last five days, because the tanks did not stop shelling the camp or the surrounding parts of Beit Jala. Imagine five girls ages between 9 years-one month old going through this nightmare and terror. We have been calling Mervat daily to make sure she is well.

Linda Massou, a young widow with two boys, lives in Beit Jala. After her husband's death, Linda worked so hard to have a home for her and her two boys. Two days ago Linda went to her parents' house next door, when a tank shelled her house causing a huge fire, eating up all her house contents. Linda lost all her furniture, clothes, and all the content or her house, including her children's books. Now Linda is at a relative's house with her boys. Linda and her family are one out of thousands of Palestinian families who lost all their houses and belongings.

We try to condole these families by telling them they were lucky to be alive and well. I do not know who we joke them or ourselves.

This afternoon Khaled my colleague suddenly showed at my doorstep. I was shocked to see him. Khaled looked terrified, and was looking for the phone. Khaled told me his daughter Daniella had very high fever for the last two nights and that he managed to take her to the doctor in my neighbourhood. But he said that now he cannot go home, because whoever was breaking the curfew was shot at in Beit Jala. Khaled called his family and tried to calm them down. I tried to calm him down, but he wanted to go home. I discovered that his wife and baby were still in the car with his brother. I asked them to stay at my home until he can go home, but he really wanted to go. I asked them to be careful and he managed to get home safely, after avoiding the military jeeps and tanks. Thinking of how terrifying everything is makes me want to cry and scream for all my people.

Last night within half an hour 20 Palestinians were killed in Jabalia camp. Can you imagine how cheap human life is becoming. These days human life is not worth anything for the Israelis.

More than ten huge tanks just passed by my house. I do not know what else can happen tonight, but believe me that the Israeli soldiers do not have any sense of humanity in them anymore.

Pray hard, for us... Scream if you can at people in power... Keep wishing for peace on the most Holy Land in the world....

Love to you all.

Marina Barham


Human rights worker Shirabe Yamada is part of the Middle East Children's Alliance.