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Monday, 3 November, 2003
Face-to-face with Tulkarm executioners

By Orla Guerin
BBC correspondent in Tulkarm

In the Middle East, there is concern about the growing numbers of Palestinians being hunted down and killed — not by the Israeli army but by their own friends and neighbours.
Palestinian gunmen (archive)
The executioners say they taped the collaborators' confessions

The latest to die were two young men shot dead in the refugee camp in the West Bank town of Tulkarm after being accused of collaborating with the Israeli army.

Palestinian human rights workers say more than 70 suspected collaborators have died in vigilante killings over the past three years.

Tulkarm has a ring of Israeli troops around the outside.   And on the inside, it seems that Palestinians suspected of collaborating can expect no law and no justice from their own brothers.

Posters of dead Palestinian militants line the walls of the dusty backstreets of the refugee camp in the town.

We're taken to see a man who issued a death sentence and made sure it was carried out.
We put them on their knees.   We fired at their heads and then at their bodies
Abu Amsha, Palestinian commander


Sitting in front of me in a bare family home inside the camp is the local commander of the al-Aqsa brigades.   A thinly bearded man, he calls himself Abu Amsha.

"What gave you the right to decide that these two men should be killed?" I ask him.

"The two collaborators, Mohammed and Samir, killed seven Palestinians because they gave information to the Israelis which led to assassinations.   They were following me — I was going to be next," the commander answers.

"The guys brought them to the camp," he continues after being asked how the two collaborators died.

"We put them on their knees.   We fired at their heads and then at their bodies.   That's how Mohammed and Samir were executed."

"How do we know you didn't torture them — make them say anything you wanted?" I ask the commander.

"From the minute we kidnapped Mohammed, a guy sat with him just holding a gun.   We all drank tea.   Mohammed admitted what he had done immediately and we taped his confession," Abu Amsha says.

They put metal rods in the fire and then they stuck them into his (Mohammed's) legs.   They melted plastic and dropped it onto his body to burn him
Mohammed's mother, Masoosa

Torture accusations But Mohammed's family claim that he was tortured into making that confession in the 21 days that he was held.

They have photographs they want to show me which they say were taken after they recovered his body.

The first photograph is of the back of Mohammed's legs.   They're covered in marks, there's blood and some scars.

"They put metal rods in the fire and then they stuck them into his legs," Mohammed's mother, Masoosa, says.

"They melted plastic and dropped it onto his body to burn him.   Mohammed was in the al-Aqsa brigades with these other guys.   Then he got promoted and they got jealous — that's why they killed him," she says.


"Do you ever feel a sense of guilt about people that have been recruited when you know what could happen to them?" I ask Moshe Govati — a special adviser to Israel's interior minister and former commander of the Israeli army in the West Bank.

"Why we should feel like this?" Mr Govati says.

"If he wants money, he gets his money.   If he had some political ideology, it's his decision.   If we succeeded to blackmail him because we could do it — well he knows why," he adds.

"So you think they get what they deserve?" I press on.

"For myself, if I were Palestinian, I would hate them to death," Mr Govati says.

"But I'm an Israeli and I'm threatened every moment by the Palestinians all over the country.

"But you have to understand that once a Palestinian got the decision to collaborate with the Israeli agencies, he knows that maybe he will not die as an old man.   He is a traitor — I need him — but he's a traitor".

Back in the refugee camp in Tulkarm it may not take too long before someone else is gunned down in the streets.

The men of the al-Aqsa brigades here have told us they are "investigating another collaborator and that he'll probably be dead within days".

 U.S. to Israel:                     
 — An apocalypse of Evil being created                     
 — 500 'bunker buster' bombs                     

More on the building of the wall.
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He was just shooting at children to amuse himself.

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and, a gathering of top articles over the past nine months

April 2004

US missiles — US money — and Palestine

March 2004

A young Palestinian man hitting an Israeli teargas bomb with his shoes away from demonstrators.

Israeli occupation soldiers killed two demonstrators and injured more than a hundred of them during anti-Wall demonstrations in the West Bank.

February 2004

A Palestinian elderly woman screaming in despair, complaining to God, as an Israeli occupation army bulldozer started to prepare her land for the construction of the separation wall in the village of Dair Qidees, near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

January 2004

Israeli occupation soldiers guarding bulldozers demolishing Palestinian homes.

A Palestinian man, perhaps who has lived in one of the homes, sits on the ground watching, his small daughters around him.

December 2003

Palestinian boys cry over the body of their father.

8 Palestinians were killed and 40 were injured,in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip.

Many homes were destroyed during a savage Israeli occupation raid on the refugee camp on Tuesday.

November 2003

A Palestinian family in Jenin, moments before the Israeli occupation forces blew up their home.

October 2003

Tom Hurndall, the peace activist who was shot by Israeli occupation forces while helping to shield some Palestinian children, is declared to be brain dead.

Two Palestinian children were among about 100 Palestinian civilians injured in the Israeli air raids on Gaza Strip, which also resulted in killing 10 civilians.

September 2003

See the home blow up.

Blowing up more Palestinian homes as a collective punishment is a daily Israeli practice (paid for by US money) to control Palestinians under occupation.

The life and death of Kamala Sawalha

A student leaves her house every night, leaving her two young children at home, spends the next several hours traveling by taxi and on foot to get to the university in the neighboring town — just 15 minutes away.

Kamala wanted very badly to study — otherwise, it would be hard to understand the sacrifice she made for it.

To get up before dawn every morning, to leave the babies with their grandmother, to spend hours on the road in the heat and cold, even when pregnant, in order to get to the campus on time; to risk being shot or subjected to endless humiliations around every turn, and then to travel the whole way back — in a taxi where possible and on foot where necessary....

“Suddenly we were facing the soldiers,” he recounts.  The jeep was parked on the left side of the road and its right door was open.  Kamala let out a long scream.  It was the last sound she would ever make.

At 11:30 A.M., they buried Kamala Sawalha in the town cemetery.

Children trying to commit suicide

Now the landscape itself has changed

More Palestinian mothers are giving birth at home because they dare not risk ride to hospital.

Punching an arab in the face.

The father went through it and now the son is going through it and no one talks about it around the dinner table.

Furer is certain that what happened to him is not at all unique. 

Here he was — a creative, sensitive graduate of the Thelma Yellin High School of the Arts, who became an animal at the checkpoint, a violent sadist who beat up Palestinians because they didn’t show him the proper courtesy, who shot out tires of cars because their owners were playing the radio too loud, who abused a retarded teenage boy lying handcuffed on the floor of the Jeep, just because he had to take his anger out somehow.

For archive purposes, this article is being stored on website.
The purpose is to advance understandings of environmental, political,
human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues.