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2002-04-18

As Israeli Troops Refuse to Help Rescue Survivors Buried Alive in Jenin Refugee Camp, the Commissioner General of the UN’s Main Body in the Occupied Territories Describes "Worse Destruction Than He Ha

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Thousands of Palestinians poured into the demolished Jenin refugee camp as Israeli troops briefly withdrew. Palestinians dug five survivors from the rubble today. A resident told Reuters that he had heard many people asking for help, but he couldn’t do anything for them because of lack of equipment.

Residents are clawing through rubble with shovels, pickaxes, and their bare hands in search of people buried alive beneath buildings flattened by Israeli bulldozers. The International Committee of the Red Cross confirms it is hampered by a lack of bomb-disposal and search-and-rescue teams.

An Amnesty International spokesman said it was contacted by a local human rights group, which had received a call from a family of 10 trapped underground and asking for help. But there is still no concerted effort to search for and rescue survivors. Israeli officials say military search-and-rescue units are at work there, but the New York Times reports none were seen.

On Wednesday, a group of Palestinian Red Cross workers formed a line where people passed chunks of concrete from a collapsed house hand to hand. In one spot, a woman pawed through the pile of rubble that was once her home, wailing as she pulled bits of clothing from the dirt.

Guests:

  • Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East. UNRWA provides education, health, and relief and social services to 3.9 million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
  • Phil Reeves, reporter with the London Independent, speaking from the Occupied Territories.

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