On the computer screen in front of me, was a picture of an ambulance with the windshield shot up and riddled with bullet holes. The title above the picture was “Stop Shooting at Ambulances and Allow Medical Treatment”.
I wasn’t looking at a UN website, or an international human rights website, I was looking at the website of B’Tselem, an Israeli Human Rights organization, protesting the practices of the Israeli army in the occupied territories.
On that same homepage, there was a report subtitle stating that “Israeli Defense Force uses Palestinians as Human Shields” , dated April 8th, 2002.
The report described how the Israeli army used civilians at gunpoint, as shields, to storm an emergency clinic made in a mosque, and the consequent harassment of the wounded.
Lists of violations like this, committed by the Israeli occupation forces, have been pouring out of the West Bank in the past few days. In a statement from the International Committee of the Red Cross : “Over the past two days, ICRC staff in Bethlehem have been threatened at gunpoint, warning shots have been fired at ICRC vehicles in Nablus and Ramallah, two ICRC vehicles have been damaged by Israeli tanks in Tulkarem and the ICRC premises in Tulkarem have been broken into” it said in a statement from Tel Aviv. (Report from Associated Press, by Alexander Higgins April 6, 2002, Group:Israel curbed our operations.)
Confirming this, a BBC News Online report, (dated April 5, 2002 titled “Israeli operations bring wanton destruction” by Tarik Kafal) the B’Tselem group says “We have confirmed reports of Red Crescent Ambulances not being allowed to pick up the wounded and of a private hospital being shelled”. The list goes on and on with people dying in the streets, homes being shelled in over inhabitants’ heads, torture of prisoners, and other outrageous acts.
It is no wonder then, that the Israeli forces have also been shooting at the media, harassing reporters, and have waged an all-out war against the reporters and journalists from around the world to prevent these truths from getting out.. Yet the question that begs itself is why are these flagrant violations of the most basic principles of international humanitarian law not reported adequately in the US media ?? It is a shame to have to resort to foreign media outlets or newswire services to obtain information on these issues. While the acts of Israeli aggression have been indiscriminate against all newscasters, why do we constantly see the attempts of European or other news organizations constantly more forthcoming in exposing these Israeli breaches of international law, and the most fundamental aspects of human dignity ?
While the work of all our journalistic people who put their lives on the line to reveal the truth, is greatly appreciated and cannot be underestimated, a conscious effort has to be made to continue to show these barbaric acts, and force our government to act against them with more than just words.