This is a humanitarian crisis without precedent in its destructive impact on the Palestinian people and its institutions,” Joint statement on the humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Territories, from United Nations organizations, including UNDP, UNFPA, World Health Organization, UN High Commission for Refugees, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent and UNWRA, among others. Rome, 10 April 2002**
This is a very preliminary inventory of damage done to Palestinian public institutions by the Israeli army in the course of its invasion of Palestinian cities and villages that began March 29th. The information will undoubtedly be augmented by reports from throughout the West Bank once more on-the-ground investigations are possible and when communication systems are working again. Indeed, this report overwhelmingly focuses on institutions in Ramallah, due to the fact that temporary lifting of the ongoing curfew have allowed individuals to make preliminary inspections of institutions once they are no longer occupied by IDF forces. The main focus here is particularly on ministries and other institutions of the Palestinian Authority, while ongoing information is being collected on non-governmental organizations, and the media. However, even the initial findings indicate several disturbing patterns with very grave consequences. In particular, institutions of the Palestinian Authority have been subjected to a consistent pattern of incursions which focus on seizure of records and financial resources and destruction of technical infrastructure. There has been a consistent pattern of seizure of documents, hard disk from computers, paper files as well as widespread vandalism. In addition, is what we have called- “sanctioned theft” é seizing of equipment which has no informational or intelligence value, as well as some theft of money. The private media has also been subject to extensive and systematic destruction of its technical facilities. The evidence suggests a policy of de-institutionalizing all Palestinian media é and not just that of the PNA but Palestine’s vibrant independent TV and radio sector, as well. The limited data on destruction and theft of non-governmental organizations, is also reported. Due to the limited data available, it is less clear if the organizations themselves are specific targets or whether they are primarily victims of general searches, IDF occupation of buildings for barracks, sniper positions, or lookouts.
The interim agreements between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the fragile, if flawed, peace that ensued, ushered in a period of Palestinian institution-building that was unprecedented in scale, although drawing on the rich experience of developing local institutions, particularly non-governmental organizations, during the period of direct Israeli military occupation. While the Palestinian Authority admittedly had very limited sovereignty, powers and territory, for the first time a Palestinian government authority directed Palestinian education, health, civil affairs and social services, among other functions and responsibilities, and began to plan for economic and social development. Elections were held in January 1996 for the first elected Palestinian parliament which brought into being the 88-member Palestinian Legislative Council and elected Yasser Arafat as President. When Israeli policy and military action is directed at “dismantling” the Palestinian Authority, it not only targets political leaders and institutions of self-rule, but it also targets vital services for the survival of Palestinian society, un-doing developmental projects and initiatives crucial to a stable and democratic Palestinian future. Palestinian institution-building was strongly supported by the international community; donor funds to Palestinian governmental and non-governmental institutions in the 1995-2000 period amounted to 3,313,719,000 USD of which 933,411USD went for social spending, particularly education and health. Up until October 2000, the Authority also steadily increased its own revenue collection. Even in the difficult conditions of siege and closure of the second intifada and the refusal of the Israeli government to transfer owed revenue clearances to the Authority (its most important source of revenues), it is vital, as the World Bank and UNSCO state, “to recognize the essential functions and achievements of the Palestinian Authority in providing basic essential services under very adverse conditions during the past five months” (World Bank and UNSCO 4 April 2002). The incursions into the Ministries of Education, Finances and Civil Affairs, as well as the municipalities, noted below, certainly threaten these services and should be of great concern.
The report is based on phone interviews with individuals who were able to make on-site visits as well as reports issued by institutions that were able to make preliminary inspections themselves. It includes only those institutions that could be physically surveyed for damage. Institutions that are still occupied by Israeli military forces (as stated in the report), are included only if the external assessment gives some indication of the extent of probable damage. The ongoing curfew in all of the towns invaded by the IDF has been the main obstacle to collecting information.
The detailed report contains the following:
Ramallah PNA institutions Ministry of Civil Affairs The Legislative Council (PLC) Ministry of Education Central Bureau of Statistics Ministry of Finance Ramallah/ El Bireh Local Government Municipality of Ramallah Municipality of al Bireh Al Bireh Municipal Library Ramallah District Chamber of Commerce
Ramallah Non-governmental Institutions 1. Human Rights Organizations: al Haq, Mattin Group and Mandela Institute 2.Development and Relief Organizations: HDIP and Union of Medical Relief Committees, Ramallah branch of the YMCA, 3. Private Radio and Television Stations: al Quds University Educational T.V. and Radio and others in Ramallah
Other Towns: Bethlehem Municipality, Anabta Municipality and two community organizations Tulkarm General Union of Palestinian Women Office
At this time there is no further information available on the fate of other occupied or invaded Ministries in Ramallah which include: Ministry of Culture (IDF continues to occupy it since Friday March 29) Ministry of Information (IDF continues to occupy it since Friday March 29) Ministry of Interior (Inside Presidents Compound: shelled — amount of destruction unknown) Ministry of Agriculture (occupied by IDF April 12th exited April 13) Ministry of Social Affairs (occupied by IDF today April 13) Health Secretariat (occupied and exited by IDF April 13th) General Personnel Office (occupied and exited by IDF April 13)
At this time there is no further information on reported damage or IDF occupation of the following Ramallah-based NGOs: al Damir, prisoners rights organization; al Mawarid Educational resource Center; Law human rights organization, Sakakini Cultural Center (invaded April 13th); The Young Scientists Club, The Agricultural Relief Committees.
The following NGOs have been invaded by IDF (and visited by staff when curfew lifted) but have only suffered mild damage from searches includes: MUWATEN, Birzeit Continuing Education Program, Birzeit Institute of Music.
Report Compiled By: Dr. Rema Hammami, Birzeit University Dr. Sari Hanafi, Shaml (Refugee and Diaspora Research Center) Dr. Elizabeth Taylor
RAMALLAH: I. NATIONAL GOVERNMENT (PNA) INSTITUTIONS: This preliminary report only covers civil institutions of government and has not attempted to deal with the widespread destruction of Palestinian Police stations and other security force installations.
RAMALLAH 1. Ministry of Civil Affairs Location: Um al Sharayat
The Ministry of Civil Affairs is headed by Minister Jamil al Tarifi. It is the main address for Palestinians living outside the occupied territories who want to apply for visitor permits, family re-unification and residency permits. It also handles the customs and other administrative details for Palestinian returnees. As such, most of its work is done in liason with Israeli officials who vet every application. The Ministry is housed in a five story building and divided into six departments.
Damage: Extensive vandalism, some confiscation of materials and some theft.
From a preliminary on-sight report by Ministry employees the following description was provided. The main doors to the Ministry were blown open (evidence of a blast), inside the main entrance reception area were the remains of a large pile of burnt documents. Equipment: Inside the two sections that were visited thus far (there are six sections altogether), destroyed Xerox copiers (seem to be sledge hammered) as well as destroyed computers and printers. The central phone exchange taken as well as a digital receiver in the Ministers office. Confiscation of Records: Thus far some missing hard drives, but stolen papers from especially the Ministers office (neighbors told the employee they saw soldiers carrying out what seemed to be boxes of papers). Many destroyed documents.
Theft: Door to Minister’s office blown open, the safe inside also blown open and its contents including documents and Ministry finances missing. Petty cash of 6,000 shekels taken from the finance department.
Other: The employee stated that the entrance and offices she entered were in complete disarray and severely vandalized. Besides broken equipment, broken filing cabinets and papers strewn everywhere — many internal windows were smashed as well. Additionally, pictures on walls (especially with Palestinian themes) were found on the floor smashed. Also graffiti sprayed on walls. The employee stated that she was so horrified at the extent of the damage and vandalism that she was unable to visit more of the building and left in tears.
2. MINISTRY OF EDUCATION Location: Ramallah / Masyun district The Ministry serves about one million children, i.e. a third of the total Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza. It is the main address for the overall administration of all government primary and secondary schools, their faculties, as well as archiving of student transcripts. On April 3rd at approximately 4:00 p.m. 30 APC’s and tanks carrying approximately 150 soldiers broke down the ministry’s main gates. Four employees in the Ministry were taken to open doors, in some cases when they had no keys doors were exploded open or broken open. Reports suggest that at other times even when staff offered to open doors they were ignored while soldiers forcibly broke in. Staff were made to stand outside in the cold for more than six hours while soldiers were inside the building. Damage: Extensive vandalism, theft and confiscation External Damage: IDF tanks demolished the main gate to the building and the main doors of the premises were forced open.
Internal Damage: The IDF forces vandalized the Ministry’s offices, confiscating computers and educational aids and removing or destroying vital records and documents. Although it has not been possible for the Ministry to assess the full damage and destruction wrought, the following specific damage was noted by Ministry employees who were able to make a brief room by room survey of the damage when the curfew was lifted for a few hours.
General: the Ministry’s computer net servers were removed financial office: the main safe was blown open damaging its contents, including dossiers, promissory notes, cash, check books and vouchers -central office: the Israeli forces blew up metal filing cabinets destroying vital documents. – all offices: files have been torn up, and left in huge piles on the floor – Storage room: the IDF confiscated computers, overhead projectors, video sets, and other valuable educational equipment – Central office: The Israeli forces blew up and destroyed all main doors. They took away or destroyed records and references that are highly important for official transcripts. – Remaining offices in the Ministry: The forces seem to have confiscated many floppy disks, CDs, files, dossiers and documents but more time will be needed to more accurately assess.
Impact The Ministry’s records, which were confiscated or destroyed, have been built up over many years. The Ministry hopes it will be able to re-construct destroyed records for the issuing and certifying of students’ transcripts from regional MOE offices. The MOE is unable to gain full and clear access to the premises in order to make a comprehensive and detailed assessment of the damage and losses at this point. However, it estimates the financial loss merely of equipment, such as computers, videos, TV sets and overhead projectors, to reach millions of dollars. Most of this equipment was financed by donor countries and organizations. The main and direct impact of this destruction, however, is on the one million Palestinian children who are enrolled in the school system and who constitute the main resource of Palestinian society in the future.
This data is based on a fuller report undertaken by the Ministry itself. For the full text please contact Acting Minister of Education Dr. Naim Abu Hommos, Email [email protected] Fax + 970 298 3222
3. Palestinian Legislative Council (al-Bireh and Ramallah) The Palestinian Legislative Council (or parliament) has two main buildings within el-Bireh/ Ramallah. The al-Bireh building is the main administrative office of the PLC while the Assembly Chambers are based in Ramallah in the Ministry of Education.
A. Main Administrative Building in al- Bireh Damage: Vandalism, Confiscation and Sanctioned Theft Based on an on-site visit by the PLC director general, and two PLC staff, as well as witnesses in the neighborhood, the following preliminary report can be made. Israeli troops broke in late Tuesday night, around 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 10.The actual break-in was witnessed by neighbors living across the street from the PLC building.
Destruction: Soldiers broke into the main entrance and subsequently the door and glass partition of the Economic Committee, the Budget Committee, the Political Committee, and the Legal Committee. Most of the damage included breaking and removal of doors and windows. Some equipment was damaged and broken.
Sanctioned Theft: A computer and many files were taken from the Speaker’s Office. A computer was also taken from the technical departments office.
Confiscation: Files and documents taken from the Speakers office and the Chief Clerks office. Hard drives taken from computers. All the computers were open in the personnel department.
Vandalism: The Library and the Public Relations Unit have suffered extensive vandalism, books and files were thrown all over the floor. The door of the “Hansard” (sound and video equipment) office was broken, documents were thrown on the floor, but the equipment was left intact.
The IT Unit, Information Department, and Director’s General office did not sustain any damage. Cars and vehicles parked on the streets were damaged, and troops took keys of vehicles from the Technical Department. Telephones are operating at the Council, and the Council has electricity. (The above information is based on ARD report provided by Dr. Mahmoud Labadi, PLC director general, and two PLC staff Faisal Zakarneh, and Ahmad Abu Dayyeh, along with Amin Sbeih of ARD/PLC2 project)
B. Legislative Council Chambers in Ramallah Ministry of Education Building
The Chambers of the Legislative Council are where the 88 members meet when the PLC is in session. The Chamber auditorium includes not only seating for the council members, but expensive technical equipment for computerized voting, video coverage of sessions and a closed circuit communications system to link it with the administrative building in el-Bireh.
Damage: Destroyed Doors; Confiscation of Video Archive of PLC Sessions At approximately 4:00 p.m. on April 3rd, around 150 soldiers, with 30 tanks and APCs, forced their way into the Ministry of Education’s Compound. The soldiers detained four employees of the Ministry of Education’s compound, including Mr. Salah Soubani, and made them walk in front of the soldiers and open doors.
A group of about 50 soldiers forced Mr. Soubani to accompany them to the Legislative Council Chambers, next to the elementary school, on the grounds of the Ministry compound. They asked several questions about the Chambers: Who attends the meetings? What do they do in the sessions? Do people work there or live there?
Any door that could not be opened with a key, was blown up with an explosive charge. [Several people living in the neighborhood heard the explosions.] A door to the school was blown up and the door between the school and the PLC Chambers was also blown up. The soldiers looked through every room of the PLC wing. They took all of the video-cassette tapes from the lower video room, at least a hundred tapes of Council sessions, put them in plastic bags, and carried them away. As far as Mr. Soubani knows, no equipment was stolen or damaged in the raid.
The soldiers did not appear to be from a special unit. They wore basic green army fatigues. They did not use names when they talked to each other, instead they called each other by numbers, except for one soldier who was repeatedly referred to as “Sharon”. When the rooms were inspected today, April 4th, Mr. Salah Soubani confirmed that sound (Hansard) and Video equipment seemed to be in place and intact. The above report is based on ARD/PLC2 project interview with Mr. Salah Soubani, director of the Information Department at the Ministry of Education-Ramallah
4. Ministry of Finance Central Office
Location: Sateh Marhaba Area
There are three buildings of the Finance Ministry in Ramallah. The Central Office in Suteh Marhaba has been visited by Ministry employees once the curfew was lifted, the other two (one in the Industrial district and one downtown) are occupied by the IDF and cannot be visited. The Central Office houses the Ministers office as well as a number of main departments (Accounts, Payroll, General administration etcé). It was broken into by a group of soldiers on approximately the 4th day of the invasion of Ramallah according to neighbors.
Damage: Broken doors, Extensive Confiscation of Computers and Computer Hard Disks
Destruction: Broken entrance doors and many internal doors destroyed, as well as windows. Elevator badly damaged. Destroyed Computers. Destroyed furniture.
Confiscation: Computer skeletons strewn on the floor, due to many hard disk drives being taken. The most hard hit section in terms of taken computers and hard disks seems to be the Payroll department. Documents strewn on the floor suggests that paper files may have been taken but the employees did not have time to assess. Other computers were found with their screens on.
Other comments/ Impact: The general director suggested that the main destruction and loss was of the Ministry’s financial records and accounts. The Ministry is in charge of disbursing salaries, health and pension payments to all government employees including teachers, hospital workers, the police as well as government bureaucrats. The GD says that given the loss of information, public sector employees face not getting paid in the foreseeable future until the records can be re-established. In addition, files for back pay and insurance may have been lost as well.
Information based on interview with General Director Mr. Sami Ramlawi tel. 059205038
5. Palestine Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) Fieldwork Administration Section Location: Radio Road near Lions Square (al Manara)
The Central Bureau of Statistics is headed by Dr. Hasan Abu Libdeh. The main section of PCBS is in Balu’a area and is where most of the statistical data bases and reports are housed, as well as administrative records and finances. That building was invaded by IDF troops during the first re-occupation of Ramallah in October 2001. At that time soldiers confiscated hard disks and vandalized a number of the offices. As of this writing (April 13th) the Balu’a office has not been touched. However, the Fieldwork section in downtown Ramallah which serves as the administrative center for fieldwork has been invaded on four occasions. The department is located in a four-storey residential and commercial building and is composed of four apartments.
Damage: (Only covers first three invasions é as yet no confirmed information on damage wrought by April 12th break-in). Two broken doors, some broken windows — both in the course of soldiers entering into the building. Damage is relatively light and there is no extensive vandalism.
Comment: The director of the section said that that it has been entered by soldiers on four occasions; March 30th, April 3rd and April 8th and 12th. Based on visiting the site after the first three incursions he thinks the main aim was general search since the apartments they entered (two) only saw light vandalism such as broken cupboards and some strewn papers. Equipment was not damaged. However, neighbors report that on the most recent incursion into the building (April 12th) they heard explosives being used.
II. LOCAL GOVERNMENT INSTITUTIONS: We have only been able to gather preliminary information based on on-site visits about the following: Ramallah Muncipality El-Bireh Minicipality Ramallah Chamber of Commerce El-Bireh Municipal Library
1. Ramallah Municipality Damage: Extensive vandalism, potentially some confiscation and theft Ramallah Municipality is located near Clock square, it contains departments of administration, the court room, engineering, health, sanitation, archives, surveying and finance.
On the evening of Saturday, March 30, a contingent of Israeli soldiers forcibly entered the Municipality and remained inside for approximately 12 hours. The building was empty when the soldiers entered. The main door was forced open by spraying it with over fifty bullets of different calibers. The Municipality, was empty when soldiers broke in, nevertheless they remained there for approximately 12 hours.. Based on a preliminary site visit, by municipality staff once the curfew was lifted they report the following.
“Every department was vandalized,é Furniture was turned over and damaged, paper files and documents were tampered with, dispersed and thrown to the floor, surveying plans and building license files were destroyed, office doors were broken; glass windows, doors and partitions were smashed, and extensive damage was inflicted on the PCs and computer network. Many of the PCs were damaged; the CPUs and hard disks either damaged or taken by the soldiers, and so was the main server. Two steel safes were blown open which contained important documents pertaining to the work of the Municipality and some petty cash. Internal concrete block wall partitions were destroyed, and extensive damage was sustained by the heating, electrical and computer cable systems.”
The Municipality staff has not been able to make a complete assessment of the damage nor determine the extent of the missing equipment, documents and other items. The forced intrusion into the municipality was witnessed by reporters and guests staying at a nearby hotel.
2. Al-Bireh Municipality Based on data provided by municipal engineers who were able to briefly visit the building when the curfew was lifted.
Damage: Destruction of outside walls, doors, furniture, computers, municipal works jeep destroyed, some confiscation of files and hard disks, extensive vandalism, theft.
Destruction: An IDF contingent arriving in tanks broke into the building on the second day of Ramallah’s invasion (Saturday March 30th). The tanks broke down the outside walls of the municipality and crushed the municipal works jeep parked outside. Entrance and internal doors broken down. Shattered windows. Broken furniture. Five computers destroyed (some for hard disks, others just vandalized). Fax machine shattered.
Confiscation: A number of files seemed to be missing and at least two hard disks taken from computers. The municipality was unable to see what other documents were taken as yet because of the amount of papers strewn on the floor.
Sanctioned Theft: $12,000 surveying equipment missing
Vandalism: A number of offices were in complete disarray, with overturned furniture and broken file cabinets. Destroyed files. Computers, central telephone system and alarm system no longer function.
3. Al-Bireh Municipal Library Located Near al-Bireh Municipality.
The library building was visited by municipal engineers briefly when the curfew was lifted. A contingent of soldiers invaded the building on the second day of the invasion 30th March
Damage: Primarily vandalism, destruction of computers, broken doors and windows, Confiscation of books and journal
Destruction: External doors, shattered windows, 3 computers broken.
Vandalism: extensive papers and books on the floor Confiscation: One computer screen was on suggesting that its hard disk had been taken. A substantial amount of books and journals seem to be missing although exactly how many (and what type) cannot as yet be assessed.
4. Ramallah Chamber of Commerce (New Building): Location: (Nazlat Rukab’s across from Ramallah Post office) Based on on-site visit when curfew lifted by Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Salah Odeh
The Ramallah Chamber of Commerce serves the whole district of Ramallah. The Chamber of Commerce owns two attached buildings with the Chamber housed in two floors in the new main building across from the post office. In the new building a number of offices were rented out to the private sector (doctor’s clinic, a development research institute, lawyers office etcé). The private businesses only had their doors broken open and were searched. The offices of the municipality were widely vandalized. There are no working offices of the C.C. in the adjacent (old) building, which is mainly rented out to private businesses and associations. The old building suffered extensive fire damage (see below under NGOs the offices of the Palestinian Teachers Union).
Damage: External doors blasted, internal doors blasted or broken down. Smashed computers and Xerox copier, extensive vandalism
On Sunday March 31st a Contingent of soldiers broke into the Chamber of Commerce building. They blew down the main entrance to the five floor building. The front entrance was completely blackened by the blast. On the 3rd floor, where the offices of the Chamber of Commerce are located, they also blew open the door with explosives. The large brass sign at the entrance with the C.C.’s insignia was shattered completely and the stairwell blackened by explosive blasts. Inside, the first office they entered suffered the most damage. Four computers were destroyed (thrown on the ground and smashed), the Xerox copier was also thrown on the ground and broken. There was wide-scale vandalism throughout the other offices with files and papers strewn on the floor. Whether hard disks or paper files were taken cannot yet be assessed. Furniture in the president’s office was vandalized. The door to the 5th floor conference room was blown open but nothing seems to have been touched inside. Also the door to the roof was broken open but again there was no other visible damage. Electricity lines throughout the building were hanging from the ceiling, there is no electricity functioning in the building.
III. NON- GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS (RAMALLAH)
As of this writing we have been able to collect briefs on the following:
Human Rights Organizations: al Haq, Mattin Group and Mandela Institute Development and Relief Organizations: HDIP and Union of Medical Relief Committees Charitable Association: Ramallah branch of the YMCA, al Nahda Women’s Society for the Hearing Impaired Private Radio and Television Stations: al Quds University Educational T.V. and Radio and others
. The Health Development Information Policy Unit (HDIP) Location: Ramallah Main Street The Health, Development, Information and Policy Institute (HDIP) was established in 1989 by a group of experienced researchers and health practitioners committed to improving the status of health care for all Palestinians. An independent, non-profit organization, HDIP specializes in policy research and planning concerning development issues and health care in Palestine and its publications are widely used by international and local development agencies and planners. HDIP also advocates on health care issues relevant to marginalized groups like women, youth and the disabled. HDIP has served as a consultant for numerous international organizations, including the World Bank, the World Health Organization, UNDP, UNICEF and international and local NGOs. HDIP is located on Main Street, Ramallah, in the same building complex that houses the economic development and rights organzations, Mattin Group, and Al Haq, the West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists.All are currently occupied by IDF soldiers who are using the offices as a base, with tanks stationed in the Al Ahliyyeh Street crossing Main Street, and barbed wire preventing access. On the night of 30 March 2002, a staff member staying in the Al Haq office reported Israeli soldiers invading the building at 11:20PM and that both Al Haq and HDIP had been entered by Israeli troops. Damage: The extent of the damage cannot be assessed as Israeli troops are currently in control of HDIP offices and environs. Residents have reported soldiers removing cartons and other items from the building. HDIP had recently expanded its offices into a very large space below the current offices of Mattin Group which HDIP had refurbished and purchased large amounts of new computers, office equipment and furniture.
2. The Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, Ramallah Location: Ramouni Building, Ramallah off Main Street The Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees is a grassroots community-based health organization founded in 1979 by a group of Palestinian doctors and health professionals to address the problems of the decaying and inadequate health infrastructure in the West Bank and Gaza under Israeli military rule. Now one of the largest Palestinian non-governmental organization, UPMRC runs 25 permanent primary health care centers, fourteen labs and numerous mobile health units. Its approach is preventive, with an emphasis on education and participation. In February 2001, UPMRC won an award from the World Health Organization. On 1 April 2002, Israeli tanks shelled the Ramouni Building in downtown Ramallah and soldiers ordered all the inhabitants out of the building, which houses a main office and emergency medical center of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (reported on Haaretz web site of the same day) Doctors, staff and about fourteen Italian volunteers, including Member of the European Parliament Louisa Morgantini, were detained by soldiers; television footage showed some staff made to kneel in a nearby parking lot. Soldiers entered the building and searched offices. Damage: At least one shell entered the office of the UPMRC causing a wall to collapse. The Director of UPMRC, Dr. Mustapha Barghouti, reported that most equipment was destroyed, including computers and a photocopier. Access to the Ramouni Building to access damage in more detail is restricted due to continued army presence in the area. Other UPMRC facilities invaded by the IDF on 31 March 2002 were the UPMRC Youth Club, the UPMRC Optometry Center, and the UPMRC Technical Aid for the Disabled Center.
3. Mandela Institute for Political Prisoners, Ramallah Description: Mandela Institute for Political Prisoners (named for Nelson Mandela) was established in 1990 to provide assistance to political prisoners. Its activities now include the provision of legal and material aid to prisoners detained by both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities, and to their families, and the training of Palestinian police forces in human rights issues. Type of Damage: The premises of Mandela were occupied for some days by the Israeli Defense Forces. The following is reported by a member of Mandela’s Board of Directors, who was able to make one visit to the office during the lifting of curfew.
1. External damage The external metal doors to the building, in which Mandela’s offices are housed, were blown up and completely destroyed 2. Internal damage VANDALISM : The offices were completely vandalized. Computers (3 counted) were thrown on the floor, broken furniture and files from cabinets strewn across the floor. Soldiers blocked the toilets leading to sewage over-spilling and ruining fitted carpets. Soldiers defecated in a number of rooms — the offices are filthy. B. CONFISCATION: The hard drive of the main computer has been removed. Its contents include Mandela’s data base. Due to the imposition of curfew, it has not been possible to check whether other files or documents have been confiscated or destroyed. C. STRUCTURAL DAMAGE: The IDF used Mandela’s office to fire into other buildings. As a result 5 office windows were completely destroyed, including the aluminum frames. All internal doors, which were locked, were broken into and badly damaged. . Impact on work Mandela has clearly suffered considerable financial loss due to the destruction or damage to equipment, furnishings and physical structure. How much data and documentation has been confiscated or damaged is impossible to determine under the present curfew.
4. MATTIN Group (Human Rights) Location: Main Street Ramallah MATTIN Group is a voluntary partnership specializing in international human rights and humanitarian law enforcement. It was occupied on March 29th by the same armored infantry and sniper force that occupied al-Haq and HDIP, which adjoin it in the same building. The main entrance door of the office was torn down on the day after the army had occupied the premises. Neighbors reported that a large force had entered MATTIN’s premises and were both carrying in and bringing out a large quantity of unidentified objects.
During the lifting of the curfew on Tuesday, April 2, one of the senior staff members of the organization attempted to gain entry into the office, but was not permitted to do so. Based on a soldier’s statement, all internal doors, as well as the internal walls connecting MATTIN’s space with al-Haq and HDIP appear to have been broken down by the soldiers. In addition to records, computers, and office equipment, among the archives the office contains an irreplaceable collection of unpublished documents, concerning International Humanitarian Law related diplomacy and other similarly important unpublished materials accumulated over a 19-year period. On Monday, April 8, another attempt by a staff member to approach the office was rebuffed by the army. The office building is blocked by barbed wire which spans the street on which it is located, and always guarded by at least two army vehicles, including tanks and APC’s. Because nobody has been allowed inside the premises, it is still unclear just how severe the damage to the office is, and what has been vandalized, confiscated, and looted by the occupation forces.
5. AL é HAQ Human Rights Organization Location: Main Street Ramallah Description: Founded in 1979, Al -Haq was the first Palestinian human rights organization to be established in the occupied territories and is the West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists. Through activities, such as monitoring of human rights violations committed by both the Israeli and Palestinian Authorities, it has a long and internationally recognized role in promoting respect for human rights within Palestine.
Type of Damage: This report was given by a staff member of al-Haq. It is based on two quick visits he made to the offices when the curfew was lifted. External Damage: The two front doors broken open and badly damaged.
Internal Damage: VANDALISM: Furniture broken and over-turned such as couch and filing cabinets. Content of filing cabinets scattered all over the floor; drawers forced open and contents rummaged through or scattered 3 computers and one printer thrown across floor and broken. Al-Haq has not yet had the opportunity to inspect their laptops for damage
SANCTIONED THEFT: As yet, can only confirm1 lap top computer stolen
CONFISCATION: Computer hard drives removed on a number of computers as well as internal electronics likewise taken, leaving only the frame.
STRUCTURAL DAMAGE: One window smashed; 3 inner doors broken open and damaged. Ceiling in places has been smashed from inside
Impact on work Al Haq has been working for 24 years and has built up an extensive archive of documents. The full extent of the impact of this vandalism on their work depends largely on what can be salvaged from their records and documents. These are scattered across the floors of their offices. Due to the curfew on Ramallah, staff have not yet had the chance to see whether any papers or documents are missing.
6. Ramallah YMCA (Branch of East Jerusalem YMCA)
The YMCAs offices in Ramallah serve not only young people in the town but it also serves young people in the surrounding villages through its extensive field programs. It runs a number of important programs for youth, including vocational training for young women, vocational counseling for girls in schools, and the career guidance for young people going into the workplace. It also assists in constructing community youth centers in surrounding villages.
(Based on preliminary reports issued by the YMCA Main Office in East Jerusalem and based on accounts of people who either witnessed some of the destruction, and staff who visited the premises briefly during the lifting of curfew. It has been impossible to make a full assessment of the damage due to the ongoing curfew).
The YMCA’s premises in Ramallah comprise three offices.The building is designated by a large outdoor sign on the building. On 8 April 2002 a contingent of IDF forces blasted open the main entrance to YMCA building and the guard’s office. They badly destroyed the elevator and there was extensive vandalism in a number of offices including destruction of equipment (it seems computers, overheads and other training aids. Reporters for NBC television living in a neighboring building tried to prevent the destruction, by repeatedly telling the IDF forces that these were YWCA premises, funded largely by USAID. The soldiers ignored them and went on to detonated the garage, destroying also the vehicles inside: one car and one large van containing valuable educational material, which was used to tour villages for educational work.
7. Private Radio and TV Stations
The following is based on an on-site visit when the curfew lifted and interviews with station managers undertaken by technical consultant to al Quds educational Media, Wassim Abdullah and excerpted from an extensive report that he wrote which is now posted at a website along with pictures of the destruction. See www.geocities.com/wramallah
There are 5 private TV stations and 5 private radio stations in Ramallah, as well as the official Palestinian authority radio and TV stations. Most of these stations are located in and around the town center, an elevated area suitable for maximum broadcasting coverage. In the totality of the Palestinian Authority areas there are almost 50 TV and radio stations, more than in any surrounding country. This independent media was contributing to the building of civil society by fostering an appreciation of free media, training in technical skills and reporting, creating local programming, and developing an innovative sector. The stations benefited from grants and support from the international and local community.
A. Al Quds Educational Television Location: on the third floor of the College of Nursing in al-Bireh, near the entrance to Ramallah. The TV station is operated by Al Quds University and broadcasts children’s programs in addition to public service announcements, medical information and emergency services contact information. The institution was open and on air with a cartoon show when Israeli soldiers broke in. Two staff operators were held for several hours, eventually released and warned not to return. Tanks and armored carriers are still on the campus of the college, preventing anyone from entering. The station has remained off the air since the takeover.
External destruction: The 40-watt relay TV transmitter and microwave receiver atop the Bakri building in the Minara of Ramallah was destroyed.
Internal destruction: It is assumed that the state-of-the-art studio and operations center have been completely destroyed, since soldiers systematically destroyed almost all other TV stations in the Ramallah-al-Bireh area. Contents of TV studio: cold lighting, super quiet air conditioning system, cameras, audio and video mixers, players/recorders, two AVID suites, a computer lab, microwave studio link and our new 250 watt TV transmitter, a UPS, a comprehensive children, social and cultural library of films, computers for the staff complete with audio, video and data networks, office machines.
B. Al Nasr TV Total destruction of equipment/extensive vandalism: Microphones, tapes, CD’s, monitors, mixers, players/recorders, etc were found spread over the floor of the station and completely smashed by sledgehammers.
C. Manara radio station Total destruction of equipment, extensive vandalism
D. Ajyal and Angham FM radio stations Location: Bakri building, Ramallah center
The doorman of the building was forced to open the station door to soldiers who used sledgehammers to destroy the two studios, the internet streaming and editing computers, the 10 Kw and 3 Kw transmitters and the entire music and program library. Destruction was total.
E. Love and Peace FM radio station Total destruction of equipment/extensive vandalism.
F. Al Quds FM radio station The building in which it is located was bombarded and set ablaze. No one has been able to enter the building to assess damage.
Also ceased broadcasting and feared destroyed: Amwaj TV, Amwaj radio and Al-Watan TV. The buildings where they are situated are still occupied by Israeli soldiers and no one has been able to enter to assess damage.
IV. OTHER TOWNS/ VILLAGES: It has been extremely difficult to access information from most other towns since they have remained under curfew without break since they were invaded. Also, many re-occupied towns (Jenin, Tulkarim, Nablus etc..) have had no electricity or phone lines for the past week). Below is information on damages to governmental and non-governmental organizations in areas besides Ramallah. All of the following information is very preliminary given that it is based on information from people who have reached sites while the curfew is still on and thus only a very quick picture could be drawn.
1.Municipality Building Location: Manger Square This report was made by an employee in the emergency services room set up in the municipality building. He and another 15 emergency workers were in the building when it was invaded by IDF troops. They were detained for a number of hours within the building and then taken to a detention center where he and others were subsequently released. The information he was able to provide was based on his eyewitness account when the events were underway and is very preliminary. The IDF continues to occupy the Municipality building as of April 13th.
Destruction: There has been destruction of many external and internal doors, as well as many windows smashed. A number of interior walls of the building have been destroyed. Destroyed/ vandalized furniture. Approximately twenty mobile stretchers were taken from the premises; seven of them were returned severely damaged. Also destroyed were three video cameras and a cassette inside one of them was confiscated.
Anabta Village (Tulkarm District) [Employees could make only an initial assessment of damage, due to the ongoing curfew.] 1. Anabta Municipality Number of staff: 60 External destruction The entrance door was completely destroyed. Internal destruction VANDALISM: Just before the incursion, the municipality had transferred some archeological artifacts from Tulkarm fearing that they might be destroyed; half of the relocated collection was destroyed. The fire-alarm system, the central telephone system and individual telephones were destroyed. Municipal files were torn and thrown on the ground. The entire library, book shelves and books, were thrown on the floor. Some desks were damaged. SANCTIONED THEFT: Two municipal computers were taken. In the library, a computer and a camera were taken. CONFISCATION: All of the municipality’s floppy disks were removed. STRUCTURAL DAMAGE: The windows and doors were broken. (Information supplied by Mayor,Hamdallah Hamdallah; who has photos and a detailed report on the destruction.) 2. The Anabta Women’s Charitable Organization This charitable organization has a staff of 11 and offers health services and social and cultural activities for women, provides relief for the poor and outreach for the elderly, in addition to operating a preschool (230 children) and daycare (10 infants). External damage The outside wall was blown up with explosives, which also damaged the building. The gate had several bullet or shrapnel holes in it. Internal destruction VANDALISM: There was a great deal of superficial damage. All of the glass was found broken. (Information provided by Itaf Al-Qabbaji )
Tulkarim 1. General Union of Palestinian Women, Tulkarim The Tulkarim branch of the GUPW is engaged in promoting and marketing embroidery and other traditional handicrafts produced by village women in the area. External destruction The door was blown open with explosives. Internal destruction VANDALISM: All drawers were apparently searched and all files were opened. The office equipment appeared to be intact. Embroidery had been strewn all over the floor and stepped on. STRUCTURAL DAMAGE : Windows were broken. (Information supplied by Fawziyyeh Yahya Aboud)
2. Rawdat Abna’ Al-Ghad
This is a preschool with 6 employees serving 70 children. External destruction Main door destroyed. Internal destruction VANDALISM: All of the children’s the toys were thrown on the ground and many smashed. The wall-to-wall carpeting has been ripped and in some places removed, the small puppet theater was destroyed. (Information supplied by Fawziyyeh Yahya Aboud)