From the Palestinian Counselling Center (PCC) Hotline:
Twenty-two staff and 30 volunteers are set up in three shifts working around the clock. They are having a difficult time dealing with the load of calls and the catastrophic conditions being reported.Four telephone lines and a fax line ring non-stop: I need milk for my two-month-old baby; I need medicine because I have diabetes; I'm scared -- I'm alone trapped in a restaurant in Ramallah and the Israeli snipers are on the rooftop of the building; I don't know what to do, I'm a doctor and the families here need medicine, antibiotics, valium, and there's also a pregnant woman -- if I don't get her to a hospital I'll have to deliver the baby.
And the calls go on and on.
The telephone lines ring -- again. It's the 19-year-old who is stuck in the restaurant where Israeli snipers are on the rooftop of the building in Ramallah. He's scared, he's isolated -- what should he do? We give him advice: stay inside, take long and deep breaths, keep the volume of the television low so you stay safe.
The phone rings again -- his name is Malek. He's still scared. He can't breathe -- he hears the soldiers outside. He's originally from Jericho but can't get home. "I'm isolated. I'm scared. I have contacted my family in Jericho and I'm still scared." Try to contact your neighbours and talk to them, it may comfort you. Take deep breaths, move around and turn off the TV, think happy things, about your family in Jericho.
Think of happy things that you will do home with your family, soon. Malek is still scared and decides to go upstairs to his neighbours' apartment. He never makes it. Think happy thoughts -- you will see your family soon. They will meet you at the entrance of the city -- in your casket.
Think happy things, Malek. We know you were scared, but we did not expect you to be shot in cold blood as you were leaving to to go to your neighbours' house. We still have the notes we took from your calls. "I'm alone in a restaurant -- I'm 19 and I'm alone. I'm scared."
He did not know the neighbours but he needed support, as he told our psychologists, who talked to him several times over two days. He needed to hear people's voices and to see movement around him. He took a courageous step to go out, when an Israeli soldier, maybe also 19 years old, decided to take the fear away from Malek by taking away his life.
Malek did not call today, and the psychologists who spoke to him are feeling down. Did we give him the right advice? Malek lay for a few hours in the street in Ramallah while paramedics were prevented from providing him with medical assistance.
Many Maleks called us today. Update from LAW, the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment:
Israeli forces continue the assault on Palestinian civilians, medical personnel and journalists. The situation on the ground is deteriorating by the minute. Despite repeated calls for international intervention, the international community continues to give Israeli forces a green light to commit further grave breaches of international humanitarian law, war crimes and other violations of human rights. Israeli forces continue to prevent paramedics from evacuating the injured, and in many cases the injured are left in the streets. Israeli soldiers have confiscated ambulances belonging to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society and the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees as well as public medical institutions and used them in house-to-house raids and assaults on Palestinian civilians.
Hours ago, Israeli tanks shelled St. Mary Church in Bethlehem, killing Father Jack (54) and injuring five sisters.
Last night, Israeli forces started shelling the headquarters of the Palestinian Preventive Security Forces in Betunia, southwest of Ramallah. Eyewitnesses told LAW that Israeli forces used Palestinian civilians as human shields in the raid.
The headquarters currently has approximately 400 persons inside, including staff, detainees and families. Dozens have been killed and injured. However, Israeli forces prevent ambulances from reaching the injured and evacuating bodies.
The total number of Palestinians killed is yet unknown.