by Julie Stahl, Jerusalem (
Palestinian militants fighting against Israeli forces in the Jenin refugee camp have given a description of events in the interviews with various Arab media and press that is similar to the version put forth by the Israeli army.

Israel, which sent tanks and troops into Jenin to arrest militants and break up the terrorists infrastructure, said it met with furious resistance in the camp, which was heavily booby-trapped. 

Palestinian officials have charged that a massacre took place, but that charge has not been substantiated by findings in the camp.  Some fifty bodies have been discovered, most of which appear to have been those of Palestinian fighters.

In translations of interviews that have appeared in the Arab media and press (translations provided by the Middle-East Media Research Institute), Palestinian militants offered an inside view of the battle in the Jenin refuge camp.

Sheikh Jamal Abu Al Hija, the commander of the military wing of Hamas in the Jenin refugee camp, described the battle as "guerrilla warfare."

"(We placed) explosive devices on the roads and in the houses" surprizes (await) the (Israelis) occupation forces, "Al-Hija said in a telephone interview with the Qatari-based satellite station Al-Jazeera on April 8. 

"In several places, there are clashes between the mujahideen (Jihad holy warriors) and the occupation forces...

"The occupation forces flee in panic from the Jenin camp - but they escalate by using tractors, airplanes and tanks against the camp.  The truth is the fighting is being conducted from neighborhood to neighborhood, like guerrilla warfare.  The mujahideen are using automatic rifles, explosive devices, and hand grenades," he said. 

Another fighter, identified as "Omar," and described as one-armed Islamic Jihad bomb maker, explained in the Egyptian govern-ment-sponsored weekly Al-Ahram Weekly how the camp had been booby-trapped and how women and children participated in the battle. 

"We started working on our plan:  to trap the invading soldiers and blow them up from the moment the Israeli tanks pulled out of Jenin last month," Omar said of a previous Israeli incursion.

"We had more than fifty houses booby-trapped around the camp.  We chose old and empty buildings and the houses of men who were wanted by Israel because we knew the soldiers would search for them," he was quoted as saying.

Omar described how they had packed water pipes with explosives and nails and had hid them in cupboards, under sinks and in sofas about sixteen feet apart.

Regarding the ambush of thirteen soldiers in Jenin, Omar said the women had helped lure the soldiers into a trap.

"We all stopped shooting and the women went out to tell the soldiers we ran out of  bullets and were leaving," he said.  Then the women alerted the fighters when the soldiers were in the trapped area. 

"When the senior officers realized what had happened, they shouted through megaphones that they wanted an immediate cease-fire. We let them approach to retrieve the men and then opened fire," he said.

Abu Jandal, the Islamic Jihad commander in the Jenin camp said the fighters had sworn not to allow the Israeli army into the camp.  All the fighters were martyrs, he said in one of the several interviews with Al-Jazeera satellite television.  Even the children wanted to participate, he said.

"Believe me, there are children stationed in the houses with explosive belts at their sides," Abu Jandal said.  "Today, one of the children came to me with his school bag.  I asked him what he wanted, and he replied, 'Instead of books, I want an explosive device, in order to attack...."'

"Abu Ahmad" a leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade in Jenin (a group linked to Palestinian Authority Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction), was quoted by Hizballah's Weekly Al-Intiquad as pledging to carry out more "martyrdom" operations to show the organization remained strong.

"The martyrdom operation by 'Andalib Taqatqah' is proof of the (Al-Aqsa Martyr) Brigades' capability of striking at the (Zionists)
entity any time, anywhere," Abu Ahmad said in reference to the seventeen year old female bomber who killed herself and six others at a Jerusalem market during the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

In response to reports of heavy fighting in the camp, PA negotiator Saeb Erekat said that the people were fighting to defend their homes.

"Nobody said that there wasn't fighting,"  Erekat said by telephone on Wednesday.  We said that because the people decided to stand up and fight (the massacre occurred)."

Israel has vehemently denied the massacre accusations and said that Jenin was a hotbed of suicide bombers.  More than twenty suicide bombers were sent from the Jenin refugee camp to perpetrate attacks in Israel. 
Copyright 1998-2002
Cybercast News Service.  04/24/02
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