Gaza Camp The Untold Story ~ A Shocking Video Report

Ammon News | 10/23/2013 11:02:37 AM | By Siraj Davis

Ammon News photo by Siraj Davis

Ammon News photo by Siraj Davis

Gaza Camp near the tourist district of Jerash’s Roman ruins in the country of Jordan, is a refugee camp teeming with Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, who began fleeing to this safe location in 1967.

It is the worst Palestinian refugee UNRWA camp in Jordan with an antiquated sewage which occasionally overflows into the cramped alleys and streets near children, dilapidated houses without roofs and doors, a plethora of old solar heated trash accompanied by decaying animal carcasses in the streets, a dearth of public transportation and recreational facilities, and polluted water.

The rates of disease, birth rate, school drop out rate, and unemployment rates are very high. The inhabitants are underprivileged as some do not possess the ability to travel abroad, can not own vehicles or property,require a financial sponsor for education past the tenth grade, are excluded from many jobs necessitating the minimum amount of security clearance in the government sector and not permitted types of employment with higher incomes, etc. They are second class citizens by nearly every criterion.

On Thursday, October 3rd, at approximately 7:00 p.m, the Gaza Camp was host to a conflagration which was initially sparked between the youth of its refugee camp and Jordanian residents of a neighboring village, Al Haddada.

The nascent conundrum escalated to brawls between multiple parties wherein Jordanian police reportedly participated in looting shops and aiding Al Haddada antagonists in Gaza Camp.

One resident stated, “the fight started at Haneen shop between just little kids.The Jordanians from Al Haddada attacked the father of one [Gaza Camp] kid who complain in police station.

Then burn cars, library or bookstore, telephone shops, kitchen shops, and pharmacy…the police help them!” According to all of those interviewed, after witnessing some of the Jordanian police siding with the assailants of Al Haddada village, Gaza Camp youth turned their hostilities toward both Al Haddada assailants and the Jordanian police by throwing stones and rocks in defense of their neighborhoods.

Though certain representatives of the Jordanian authorities have denied this narrative, one video has arisen to support such claims, and others are reported to be circulating still.

Gaza Camp residents still persist in their claims that a high ranking officer of the Jordanian Gandarmie is a relative of one of the Al Haddada antagonists and therein lay some of the bias against Gaza Camp by the Jordanian police.

(Here, two Jordanian police officers including what is suspected to either be a non-uniformed officer or resident from Al Haddada village, are fighting with with others from Al Haddada village against Gaza Camp youth.)

Reserve law enforcement forces were called into the area in the form of an estimated thirty to fifty officers and more than five armored personnel carriers. An occupation followed wherein the main streets were cordoned off allowing different individual high ranking officers to use discretion as to who may or may not pass. Shops for businesses, schools, and recreational facilities were shut down.

Jordanian police engaged a group of approximately twenty Gaza Camp youth from ages of ten to twenty years of age, up and down residential streets while firing tear gas and rubber bullets directly at protestors. Injuries include deep red abrasions, lacerations, and heavy bruises with victims’ ages ranging from the youth to the elderly. The tear gas saturated the neighborhoods of Gaza Camp making it impossible for inhabitants to deter the seeping gas from entering their homes. In one incident, tear gas shot into the vicinity of a Abu Bakr mosque interrupted Friday prayers as worshipers immediately vacated the mosque because the gas was unbearable.

It is interesting to note that tear gas canisters have on them a warning message, “Dangerous if used after the validity date” yet there is no validity date on the canisters. There were also unconfirmed reports of rubber bullets being shot from rooftops at protestors, beatings of protestors backed into corners by several law enforcement officers, and the discharging of live firearms into the air by both Jordanian law enforcement and Al Haddada participants.

After many vehicles and buildings were set ablaze and damaged, hostilities ceased when Jordanian police retreated to the eastern portion of Gaza Camp after two continuous days of violence.

(In the following videos, it can be clearly seen that those fighting with the police are young children and adolescents. It also can be seen that the tears gas canisters have no dates on them.)

A total of sixteen Gaza Camp residents were arrested by Jordanian law enforcement and detained by the Internal Security Apparatus of Jordan. None of them residents of Al Haddada village who entered Gaza Camp to begin the original altercation which led to this malaise.

Reports from residents indicate no warrants, verbal reasons, or evidence were presented at time of arrest as some were dragged from their families’ homes or picked up individually on the streets. There are also complaints that bystanders inquiring into these arrests were either arrested or beaten. Consternation arises from strong vocal grievances that though adolescents were solely involved in the malaise, the Jordanian law enforcement arrested adults as well. Such complaints appear legitimate as many testimonies and video evidence augments this claim, which brings into question as to whether the arrests were in fact indiscriminate or not.

On October 9, Wednesday, non-violent protests were held for the release of the detained. One protestor whose son was incarcerated announced that she discovered during a visit to her son that there were signs of torture which seemed as its aim was to provoke confessions.

A second protestor in close proximity to this mother immediately concurred with the former’s statement. Ahmad Amrah, a human rights activist, organized the event in a non-provocative and orderly manner.

He has also been leading the efforts to release the remaining five residents and dispelling the truth of what occurred at Gaza Camp. After the protest, parliamentary member Mohammed Hadeeb castigated another parliamentary constituent Taher Al Masri, over the incident.

Before EID, ten of the sixteen prisoners were released on bail, six remained incarcerated. Interviews with five of the ten released indicated torture in the form of hour long beatings, two continuous days of food and water deprivation with denial of bathroom privileges, and the administering of electrical shock.

One fourteen year old prisoner complained the police discharged a firearm near his feet to induce fear and anxiety. Another sixteen year old prisoner complained an officer took a shoe off his sole and began to slap him in the face many times, ending the malignant crescendo by shoving it into his mouth to near suffocation. This same teenager also stated he was beaten while seated with handcuffs on him. All of the formerly imprisoned maintain their innocence, that they were not asked any questions during the ordeal, and have also indicated that the remaining five in prison have worse injuries including broken teeth and bones.

On Monday, October 21, all but one of the prisoners were released. Allegations of broken teeth and bones were confirmed. All of the recently freed still face a court date in the future. In consideration of the aforementioned circumstances, the prisoners and others of Gaza Camp, are demanding financial compensation for damages, for current charges to be dropped, and a return of their dignity by the Jordanian government delineating the truth to the public behind the recent catastrophe in Gaza Camp.

Robert Satloff, Executive Director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and David Schenker, Director for Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, have both suggested that part of Jordan’s pathway for deterring the maelstrom of the Arab Spring is to control the corruption and to check the excessive force applied by security forces.

Such tactics’ intent is to avoid the policital vacuum which injustice creates wherein outside influences can replace the legitimacy of an acting presence. More specifically, Satloff’s and Schenker’s fears are directed at the Muslim Brotherhood who may take advantage of such unfair anomalies to justice in order to rise to power.

The unfortunate and embarrassing situation of Gaza Camp above, questions whether Jordan is heeding the advice of the US’s affluent in foreign policy and exacerbating the activities of those on the ground in Jordan concerned about such policies. Or if the event above in addition to the continuous protests in Jordan which go ignored, are auguries of what is already inevitable.

* Siraj Davis has a Master of Arts in History and is currently a teacher with a command of six languages, and a freelance journalist for human rights issues. He has spent eight years researching examples of violent and non-violent insurgencies and counterinsurgencies or Low Intensity Conflicts across the world, in various contexts and backgrounds. His first book was “Religious Fanaticism and Abolition: Early 19th Century Marginalization of David Walker and Nat Turner” and he is currently working on his second book “The Pursuit of Love Against the War on Terrorism.” He has also published various academic journal and newspaper articles.

He has organized and lobbied for human rights and immigration reform with organizations such as Amnesty International, American Families United, SOA Watch, US Campaign for Burma, the American Association for Palestinian Equal Rights, and more. Davis is president of the Collective Consciousness human rights organization and a constituent of the Truth Justice and Peace Movement. He is currently focused on the Free Ziyad Yaghi Campaign, Peace in Palestine/Israel Conflict, and all refugees.

Davis is also a former pugilist and 1991 AAU/JKA National Shotokan Karate Champion.

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