FOA Exclusive: The forgotten stories behind the Jenin Massacre

May 21, 2016 /

FOA interviews Yvonne Ridley, one of the first journalists to enter the Jenin refugee camp when the siege was lifted. Ridley describes her time in the camp after the massacre.

The Jenin refugee camp home to 15,000 Palestinian refugees living within one square kilometer of land. In 2002, from April 3rd-12th the Israeli Occupation Force launched a major military operation in the Jenin refugee camp. What resulted was a massacre.

The Jenin massacre conjures a lot of confusion because Israel deliberately prevented reporters from entering the camp. Israel blocked the media during the assault and also blocked the UN Security Council-mandated investigation to take place. Israel used similar tactics during its attack on Gaza as a way of covering up its crimes from the rest of the world.

Ms Ridley’s account is important because of the lack of international reporters on the ground. Her interview serves as a testimony of the crimes against humanity that took place in Jenin.

“One of the first things I remember quite vividly was the smell. It was a smell that was so distinctive and I had encountered this once before when I covered the Lockerbie disaster. It was the smell of death and rotting corpses…I didn’t see any bodies but most of them were buried under the rubble. That’s when I saw several women and their hands were raw like meat because they had been tearing away at the rubble to get to the bodies.”

Eyewitnesses told Ms Ridley that they only had a few minutes to evacuate when bulldozers demolished their homes and everything in the way. There was a disabled man in a wheel chair who didn’t have enough time to evacuate. The women who were tearing at the rubble were trying to find his body. They had no shovels.

After recalling several other stories Ms Ridley stated, “I couldn’t comprehend the hatred on the ground. It’s bad enough that generals plan this attack in a civilian area and demolished hundreds of homes. Every single house was scarred from some kind of armament. Even if they were in a war fighting an enemy what I couldn’t understand was the hatred from the soldiers who refused to let Palestinians take their loved ones to the hospital and refused to let ambulances enter Jenin.”

11 years later, the people of Jenin refugee camp have had no recourse to justice.

“Whenever anyone ever mentions Jenin to me it always brings tears to me, even now. That whole thing left a very deep mental scar with me. The little boy who had no hope, the Argentinian man who had so much hate, the father who watched his wife and son bleed to death. That was probably the worst 6 hours of my life. Nothing could have prepared me for that.”

Despite the repeated claims that there was no massacre, Ridley’s personal experience and eyewitness accounts speak volumes.

“Jenin was a war crime. It was a massacre.”

Jenin is an example of what happens when the world turns its back on the Palestinians.

Date uploaded: May 21, 2016