The Battle For Jenin – A Hostile Eyewitness Account:
Vol: 7 Issue: 24 Wednesday, April 24, 2002
The calls for an investigation of the Jenin “massacre” continue despite the fact that nobody can find evidence of a massacre, no victims, no list of missing and no bodies.
According to an eyewitness, that’s because there was no massacre. There is little reason to doubt the account of Tabaat Mardawi, a senior Hamas member who was captured during the battle. Having only days before put his life on the line to hurt Israel, it is unlikely he would lie to protect Israel.
Mardawi gave an interview to CNN from the Israeli prison where he is being held. His account lines up more closely with that of Israel’s than it does anything being said by the UN, EU and PA.
Mardawi said he and other Palestinian fighters had expected Israel to attack with planes and tanks. He was very pleased to see infantry instead.
“It was like hunting … like being given a prize. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the soldiers,” he said. “The Israelis knew that any soldier who went into the camp like that was going to get killed. . . I’ve been waiting for a moment like that for years.”
Israel says the decision to use infantry to spearhead the attack rather than using air power and artillery stemmed from a desire to limit civilian casualties, even at the risk of higher IDF casualties.
Twenty-three dead Israeli soldiers made Jenin one of the most costly Israeli operations since the intifada began.
“A Very Hard Fight”
Mardawi drew a map of the camp and talked about the course of the battle. Their weapons were guns and crudely made bombs and booby traps — “big ones” for tanks and “others the size of a water bottle.” He estimated 1,000 to 2,000 bombs and booby traps were spread through the camp. “It was a very hard fight. We fought at close quarters,” he said, “sometimes just a matter of a few meters between us, sometimes even in the same house.”
Mardawi also said there were about 100 Palestinians in the battle — 60 to 70 fighters from the camp and 20-30 members of the Palestinian security forces. The Israelis say there were about 200 fighters in the camp and about half surrendered during the fighting.
Saw No Massacre
The CNN reporter asked Mardawi about the allegations that Israel led groups of people away to be massacred. Mardawi said he saw a massacre, but it was the kind seen by every soldier defeated by a superior force.
“By my own standard, what happened there was a massacre. But if you are asking, ‘Did I see tens of people killed?’ Frankly, no. In my group, we were in an area with no other people. Three fighters with me were killed. Later when we started to move from place to place, we saw destroyed houses and could smell bodies.”
Verdict Awaiting Evidence
The United Nations and European Union have together already reached a verdict. Israel overreacted, destroyed a Palestinian ‘refugee camp’ [refugees from whom?] and massacred hundreds of refugees. To prove it, they are sending a ‘fact-finding’ team to find evidence of what even the combatants deny took place.
The world just can’t accept the possibility that Israel did exactly what it said it would do: Engage terrorist elements heavily entrenched in an urban area, taking extreme care to limit civilian casualties.
Israel could have attacked with planes or artillery, as Mardawi expected. Instead, to his delight, Israel sent infantry in order to keep from killing civilians. It was a decision that cost Israel 23 soldiers.
It is easy enough to follow logically, simply by asking a couple of questions the combined leadership of the EU and UN never thought of asking.
How many soldiers would Israel have risked in an air assault? Why would they use infantry? How much damage would be caused to an urban area 1/3 the size of Central Park if the 2000 bombs the Palestinians hid there were detonated — even if Israel didn’t fire a shot?
The possibility that 2000 booby traps [the small ones the size of water bottles] may account for some of the death and destruction of Palestinians in Jenin has not even been raised.
The rush to judgement against Israel doesn’t rise from any genuine sense of Israeli overreaction. There is no nation in Europe that wouldn’t do exactly the same thing, given the identical circumstances. The UN demonstrated what it would do against terrorist nations if sufficiently provoked. Ask the Iraqis.
Washington has made it clear how it would respond to a terror attack. Ask al-Qaeda. No outcry for a ‘fact-finding’ team against America, even though more allied troops have been killed by US friendly fire than have been killed by hostile enemy fire.
The UN fact-finding team isn’t interested in finding facts. It is interested in finding evidence to support the verdict of guilty it has already reached.