A report from Ramallah from an American nurse & humanitarian aid worker
Tuesday April 2
Bloody hell. Just got out of Ramallah yesterday, managed to catch a ride
to the checkpoint with the Associated Press in their bullet-proof vehicle,
then walked across with a few bullet-proof vested/helmeted journalists,
me in my scrubs do not know how to describe what is happening in Ramallah,
but I will try. I must I am here (Gaza, Bethlehem, Ramallah, then Lebanon)
for 6 weeks, working as a volunteer for the PCRF (Palestine Children's
Relief Fund-a non-profit, non-political, humanitarian relief organization).
Teaching NRP/NICU stuff, bringing donated supplies, and consulting for
potential future relief efforts. I had been in Ramallah since the 23rd
March. On 28th, the situation appeared to get worse, with 150 tanks surrounding
Ramallah and closures put into effects I had been staying at the hospital
since Thursday - it was safer and I was useful there; not really teaching
much anymore but instead working ER, OR, NICU, or wherever needed an extra
nurse. The staff that could make it in was working back to back shifts,
walking past tanks to get to and from work or sleeping at the hospital.
Everybody not anaemic donated blood. All supplies are running low, sometimes
there was not enough food. The ambulances are prevented from transporting
the wounded, or any other patients or staff - they were stopped and
arrested, and the ambulances were then used by the Israelis in house to
house searches and executions. The patients that were able to make it
to the hospital in time were gun shot wounds - mostly to abd. and chest,
or head. I saw many corpses with close range wounds/ execution style.
The morgue is over-full. The Israelis are lying about what is happening - i.e.
they did enter Ramallah hospital on Sunday, I was there. The press is
censured [sic] - unable to report what is occurring as they are also
prevented/detained, threatened, injured, or escorted out. I am hearing
that the news in the States is very pro-Israeli as usual. How is this
allowed? There are many major human rights issues here.
I feel helpless to do anything. I wish now that I would have stayed in
Ramallah. I am a nurse, and a human being. It was very hard to leave,
but the hospital staff advised me to go, to get out when I could. They
were very afraid about what might happen (and now is happening). I am
safe in Jerusalem now, but feel useless-unable to do anything except write
emails. And today the situation there is so much worse - the press
just told me that now snipers are firing at anyone leaving the Ramallah
hospital. In Bethlehem today the Israelis are targeting churches, have
shot and killed a priest and also shot a nun - and the situation is
the same for the hospital there, no one allowed in or out. They continue
to surround Arafat's compound, cutting off water, food, electricity, and
any contact. They shot Palestinians trying to surrender, in their underwear.
They continue to conduct house to house searches and executions, they
are casting a wide net and arresting many, many people - I saw trucks
filled with blindfolded Palestinians pass by the hospital. There were
major bombings done early this morning, many people must be hurt or dead.
I can't think of anything else to say right now - the situation is
unimaginable. I have no words for this except to plea; "please help
stop this". Americans need to know what is happening, they need to
pay attention. They need to be aware that their news is very biased; they
need to search for the truth, and the causes of symptoms such as suicide
bombers. They need to re-evaluate their definition of terrorism and who
the terrorists are, to include politics that would oppress another people
so hard and for so long. All need to take responsibility for our own government's
actions and inactions. Please, at least, pray for all the people here - esp.
in Ramallah and Bethlehem... am very tired. I'll try to email more later.
Wed. April 3
Here's an update: spoke with the director of the Ramallah hospital - they
are running out of medicines, supplies, and oxygen. There are still many
casualties and dead in the streets that they are unable to get to. They
are worried about diseases that come with having a morgue full again,
and garbage in the streets piled high, and unable to get to or bury the
dead. They were able to bury 29 bodies yesterday in a mass grave, during
a lift of the curfew for a few hours - but soldiers still shot at people
in the streets even during this time, killing a 10 yr old boy. There is
no electricity, no food and now no water at the hospital. A female doctor
was killed in Jenin. In Bethlehem yesterday, they targeted churches - shot
and killed a priest, and injured six nuns. They are now shooting at priests
that have come to the check point to try to get in to Bethlehem. The hospital
and ambulances there are also unable to get to the injured. The press
just arrived back to the hotel, telling me that the convoy of supplies
trying to get into Ramallah will not be let in.
Some of the babies in the NICU will die without oxygen - of all the
Thurs. April 4
I don't even know where to start anymore - except to say that the situation
is even worse. There are hundreds of calls to the ambulances at Ramallah
every day, pleading for help for the critically sick and injured - but
they still are not allowed to do anything or transport anyone. I spoke
with a Finnish researcher who was allowed out of Ramallah yesterday who
says that there are medical persons detained, along with hundreds of Palestinians.
She said that there are hundreds of injured in the bombed areas of Ramallah
that are unable to get help. As for Bethlehem, I spoke with press who
had been able to get part way in yesterday before being chased out by
soldiers, reporting that "every door has been blow open, riddled
with bullets", dead bodies behind the doors, a missile in a child's
bedroom, "water pipes everywhere are totally destroyed". "This
is the most horrible vandalism imaginable - clearly just for punishment" of the Palestinian people. The Israeli soldiers abide by no rule - shooting
anyone now. They have expanded the militarized zones, and are not allowing
journalists, or anyone in. They do not want anyone seeing what they are
doing - this is the most frightening. Peaceful demonstrations at the
check points are targeted with tear gas, international convoys of supplies
are not allowed in. The situation at the hospitals remains critical - their
supplies, medicines, and oxygen are running out. The Ramallah hospital
was able to get three oxygen cylinders two days ago, but convoys of medical
supplies and food were not allowed in at all yesterday. There is not enough
food, either at the hospital or for the rest of Ramallah. There is still
no water or electricity - I can not imagine how the medical staff is
coping, the nurses in the neonatal unit must be taking turns ventilating
the babies by hand with whatever oxygen they have left. How long can the
rest of the world watch this, doing nothing?
PLEASE AT LEAST LET THE FOOD, WATER AND MEDICAL SUPPLIES IN!
The Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People, 64 Star Street,
P.O. Box 24
The centre is a non-profit making NGO, started in 1988 during the first
Intifada. PCR runs community service programs, youth empowerment and training
programs. PCR is also very much involved in the non-violent resistance
against the Israeli Occupation to Palestine.