At ZOA Event, Israeli Soldiers Give Eyewitness Testimony Revealing What Really Happened In Jenin
June 5, 2002

WASHINGTON, D.C.- At a public meeting in Washington organized by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) this week, three Israeli soldiers who fought in the recent battle in Jenin presented exclusive eyewitness accounts of the fighting and exposed the lies spread by the Palestinian Authority that Arabs in Jenin were “massacred.”

The PA initially claimed that Israeli forces had killed “hundreds” of Arab civilians in Jenin. When journalists and foreign aid workers could find only a few dozen bodies —most of them armed terrorists— the PA began filling the mass grave with bodies from the Jenin morgue. Eventually, the PA stop claiming there was a massacre, and the United Nations, which had been planning to send a team to investigate the matter, dropped its claims.

The three soldiers said their visit to the United States was motivated by their desire to correct the many biased media reports which sought to portray the Arabs of Jenin as victims of Israeli aggression. They pointed out that Jenin had become a center for Palestinian Arab terror: many of the suicide bombers who have slaughtered Israelis in recent months were residents of Jenin and received their training and explosives at terrorist bases in the city. The three soldiers pointed out that the Israeli forces in Jenin uncovered massive amounts of illegal weapons, explosives, and bomb-making factories.

Israeli Army reservist Saul Kramer, who took part in the operation, said “media reports that humanitarian aid was being blocked from Jenin are simply untrue,” explaining how he personally inspected the aid shipments as they entered the camp. He pointed out that the soldiers moved cautiously and took great care not to hurt civilians, despite the fact that they were under constant fire from terrorist snipers who positioned themselves in civilian buildings such as schools and mosques. Because the Israeli forces went from house to house instead of simply bombing Jenin from the air, twenty-three Israeli soldiers lost their lives.

Jonathan Alster, a 38 year-old reserve soldier, described how three of his close friends were among those 23 casualties, including one to whom he spoke just minutes before he was killed. Alster challenged the false media reports depicting Israeli soldiers as demoralized and unwilling to fight. “Everybody felt it was another war of independence, a war of survival,” he said. “We went into Jenin to prevent the bombs that were on their way.” Operation Defensive Shield, as it was named, was just that: self-defense. “All I want is that my 16-year-old girl can get on a bus to go see a movie. That’s all we want,” Alster said.

“It’s essential that this side of the story is told,” said Sarah Stern, director of the ZOA’s Capitol Hill office, which organized the event. “We urge all Jewish organizations to contact their local Israeli Consulate and arrange for these soldiers to be heard.”

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