Muna Khleifi lives in Ramallah, one of the Palestinian towns besieged by Israeli soldiers. Here she describes a week of deprivation and terror
Our real problem is the children who have lived under violence for so long. We try our best to isolate them as much as we can, but it feels like trying to empty the sea with a glass. Now, with the tanks and the noise of bombing and shelling, fear is occupying our children. My husband has an artery and heart problem, and should not be exposed to the cold weather, so we prepare a plan for when the Israeli soldiers start asking the men to get out of their homes, to keep them for hours in the streets in the rain and the cold. My husband has put more layers of warm clothes on, because they don't allow them more than three minutes from the moment they call the men to the streets. They keep them for hours while they search the houses. So my husband has to sleep in these clothes.
Last night it got worse, five tanks stopped 200m away from our house and started to bomb and shoot at the Preventative Forces location. Helicopters were shelling from above our house. We thought the door of hell had opened. I went to check on the children in their rooms. I found my daughter awake in her bed, unable to speak, her eyes were full of fear. I carried her in my arms and took her to our bed. She could not speak at all; it was clear that even when she was in our bed that was not comfort to her. I decided to bring my son also to our bed although he was not awake. I woke him and asked everybody to get dressed warmly in case the soldiers came.
But we are lucky when we compare ourselves with the Abdeh family from Bethlehem. When the Israeli soldiers opened their front door (the house consists of one room, a kitchen and toilet) they shoot dead the grandmother and the uncle in front of five children, their mother and their father. Now they can't call for an ambulance to take the bodies to the hospital. The mother has put the children in the toilet room to prevent them from spending the night in front of their dear dead grandmother and dead uncle. The Israeli soldiers do not take this into consideration and will shoot the father and the mother if they go out to call for an ambulance. Aren't they here to fight terror?
Truce plan let Israel continue attacks
Furious Palestinians leak 'one-sided' US envoy draft
Israel would be allowed to continue attacks on Palestinian presidential buildings, security headquarters and prisons as part of a Middle East "ceasefire" plan proposed by US envoy General Anthony Zinni, it emerged yesterday.
Furious Palestinian negotiators have released a copy of the document, presented by Gen Zinni on March 26, the day before Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had been due to attend the Arab summit in Beirut.
Israel treated the document as an ultimatum, demanding Mr Arafat sign it as a condition of being allowed to attend the summit, but he refused.
Why an iron fist only makes things worse
With most of the Palestinians again under occupation, with almost two million under house arrest and troops imprisoning Yasser Arafat in Ramallah, the realisation sets in that Ariel Sharon can never offer them peace and end of occupation.
Transfer is a clear and present danger
`The desire to transfer us has roots in the past, and in the history and ideology of certain Zionist circles, which have never given up hope of attaining this goal,' a leading Palestinian in Gaza, Dr. Haidar Abdel Shafi says.
He does not consider the idea of a population transfer as just a case of extremist brainwashing. "The Israeli authorities are today trying to finish the job they did not manage to complete 53 years ago - namely, our banishment from Palestine. The Israeli government is deliberately ignoring the Palestinians' natural right to an independent, sovereign national entity, like any other nation on earth. The Palestinians have made immense concessions, and the international community recognizes that fact. We have declared that we are prepared to settle for a quarter of the territory of the original area of Palestine. We are not prepared to make any further concessions. Our backs are to the wall."