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US Consulate Refuses to Protect Rachel Corrie
by Dr. Lim ibn Kateb
Monday Mar 17th, 2003 9:53 PM
Conversation between ISM and US Consulate regarding ISM activists in Rafah
At 2 pm on Friday the ISM received word that Israeli military bulldozers were demolishing houses in Rafah town in the south of the Gaza Strip. The destruction is part of Israel's "Apartheid Wall" policy towards the Occupied Territories. Whereby Palestinians communities will be sealed from the outside world by a massive series of walls, complete with towers from which military sharpshooters can monitor their activities. The section of the Wall under construction near Rafah stretches along the entire length of Gaza's border with Egypt. To give the snipers in the wall's towers clear fields of fire, the Israeli occupation forces in Gaza intend to demolish all the houses within 70 - 100 metres of the wall

As soon as they received word of the demolitions seven activists (3 US, 3 UK and 1 Dutch) left ISM Rafah headquarters in Gaza to resist them. The site of the demolitions was in an area of Rafah known of "Block O" that is overlooked by four of the wall's towers including the infamous Saleh e-Deen Tower from which Israeli snipers have murdered several of Rafah's residents. When they arrived the activists saw a row of six houses being systematically bulldozed by two Israeli military bulldozers guarded by a tank. They were unable to approach the bulldozers directly because of landmines but found an alternative route to the devastation, which bypassed the minefield.

As soon as the activists began to approach the bulldozers they were fired upon from the towers and the tanks which directed rifle and machine gun fire at the ground in front of them. Using their megaphone the activists announced that they were unarmed international peace activists and continued to advance. The tank and the soldiers in the towers continued to fire warning shots at them but the activists refused to submit to their intimidation and continued their approach.

As soon as the activists came under fire they phoned the ISM media office to alert me to the danger they were under and I immediately made an emergency call to the US consulate in Tel Aviv to inform them what was happening and request that they alert the headquarters of the Israeli occupying forces in the Gaza Strip that there were international peace activists (including 3 Americans) in Rafah Town that were coming under fire from Israeli troops and ask them to please exercise restraint (the standard ISM procedure in such circumstances).

After being put on hold several times. I had the following conversation with US consulate staff:

Diplomat: I'm sorry but its Shabbat and we can't contact anyone in the Army because they're all on holiday.

ISM: On holiday? Then what are they doing demolishing houses in Rafah and shooting and international volunteers for?

Diplomat: I'm sorry but we don't have anyone we can contact in the Army.

ISM: Then phone the Department of Foreign Affairs and tell them to contact the Army. [The standard protocol under such circumstances.]

Diplomat: What are they doing in the area?

ISM: They're trying to stop house... Can I speak to the consul please?

Diplomat: Please hold a minute....

Ingrid Barzel: How can I help you.

ISM: This is an emergency call about a group of International Peace Activists in Rafah Town that are being fired upon by Israeli troops. I'm phoning you because I want you to get in contact with the Army and advise them that there are American nationals in the area and ask them to please exercise restraint.

Ingrid Barzel: Please advise your people there to leave the area.

ISM: Look they're in the area and they don't intend to go anywhere. They're trying to stop houses being demolished by military bulldozers.

Ingrid Barzel: We have a travel advisory against traveling to the Gaza Strip and if these people are there they are there illegally. [This is untrue to enter the Gaza Strip one has to have a special authorisation stamp in one's passport and all the Rafah activists have one.]

ISM: What if one of them gets killed? Will you hide behind your excuses then?

Ingrid Barzel: They're not excuses. It's State Department procedure endorsed by the Secretary of State.

ISM: So what you're saying is you take no responsibility for the welfare of your nationals dong peace work in the Gaza Strip even if this means one of them gets killed because of your inaction?

Ingrid Barzel: We do not accept any responsibility for anyone who ignores our travel advisories and illegally enters the Gaza Strip.

ISM; What is your name?

[Pause]

Ingrid Barzel: I'd be happy to give you my name. It's Ingrid Barzel.

ISM: Right, now I know how useless you are I'll never phone you again. I also got in touch with the British consulate who said they'd phone me back but seem to have got in touch with the Gaza military headquarters and the Dutch consulate which was on holiday and had an answering machine operating.
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RachelRudolfSunday Dec 7th, 2003 3:36 AM
Suprise SupriseFergalWednesday Nov 12th, 2003 10:14 AM
Suprise SupriseFergalWednesday Nov 12th, 2003 10:14 AM
Suprise SupriseFergalWednesday Nov 12th, 2003 10:12 AM
Suprise SupriseFergalWednesday Nov 12th, 2003 10:09 AM
Suprise SupriseFergalWednesday Nov 12th, 2003 10:07 AM
Israel's futureMattWednesday Nov 5th, 2003 7:10 PM
From A Soldier...I. BenaderetiWednesday Oct 22nd, 2003 1:27 PM
hmmmScottieThursday Oct 9th, 2003 7:34 PM
rest assuredbeau taylorThursday Oct 9th, 2003 6:57 PM

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