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Front Page |  In Depth |  Middle East |  Voices from the conflict 
Voices from the conflict
Introduction
Yonatan Yagodovsky
Israeli emergency worker
Mahmoud Shahin
Palestinian from Bethlehem
Ron
Israeli army reservist
Yehuda Aslan
Israeli restaurant owner
Abu al-Abed
Palestinian militant
Gila Svirsky
Israeli peace activist
Rifka Goldschmidt
Israeli settler in Gaza
Map showing northern Israel

Mohammed Bakri
Mohammed Hassan Bakri is an Israeli Arab living in the village of al-Jani in the Galilee in Israel. He has been a doctor for 27 years. In 1982, Dr Bakri treated injured Jewish Israelis in Kiriyat Shmona near the Lebanese border. They were hit during guerrilla attacks with Katyusha rockets. But as the current intifada has worn on, he has spent more and more time working with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

We, the Arab minority inside Israel are an inseparable part of the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. We Israeli Arabs, like many Israeli democrats, are very upset by the current intifada. When we see on the television the Israeli army in towns and villages destroying everything in its way and killing anyone who moves, this is a shock. Wherever the army goes people are killed.

I personally feel like I don't belong to this country after what happened at the start of the intifada. The Israeli flag means nothing to me, nor the national anthem with its mentions of the Jewish soul.
Listen to audio
(in Arabic)
Real 28k
I have managed to get into Jenin twice and Nablus once sine they were invaded in March. People there are living without water or food, shelter or medicine. On my last journey to the villages around Jenin we found people sick with heart disease or diabetes in desperate need of medicine. We took in what we could, but it is not enough. We saw tens of people who needed immediate surgery. We managed to evacuate some of these people to Arab hospitals in Nazareth, and the English and Norwegian hospitals there.

I have been into Jenin, the city and the refugee camps - all the areas that the Israeli army went into. It's difficult to describe what I saw. The extent of the destruction is unimaginable. The smell of rotting corpses shocks you as you go into the refugee camp. Since the Israeli operations, 2000 old men, women and children who had fled the army advance have gone back to look for their homes and can't find them. I saw a woman with 10 children sleeping in the street. She had no food or shelter.

We have in Israel something called the General Israeli Medical Association, which has done nothing. A humanitarian ethic should have required it to intervene and help. We have called on the association to help Palestinians in the territories, but we got the reply that Israeli doctors were not helping because they were afraid of mines.

Over the intifada the situation for us Israeli Arabs has become worse and worse. All Israeli Governments have treated the Arab minority badly and unequally. It was only 10 years ago that most of our villages were supplied with electricity and water. Some are still without a proper supply of either. But as far as this intifada goes, since we demonstrated in the streets in September 2000, the Israeli police has stopped treating us as citizens. We demonstrated against what the occupation army was doing in the West Bank and Gaza and we were shot at and 13 Israeli citizens were killed by the Israeli police force.

While I condemn the suicide operations, I also have to say that the Israeli army's operations nourish the idea of suicide operations among Palestinian youths. The killing of hundreds and the destruction of homes, creates hundreds of youths who prefer suicide in Tel Aviv or Haifa over the life they lead.
Listen to audio
(in Arabic)
Real 28k
Of course relations between the Israeli Arab citizens and the government deteriorated. I personally feel like I don't belong to this country after what happened at the start of the intifada. The Israeli flag means nothing to me, nor the national anthem with its mentions of the Jewish soul. We, the Israeli Arabs who stayed here, make every effort to take part in the life of this country, and work towards coexistence between Arabs and Jews, but the rulers here prevent us from this.

I am by nature an optimistic person who hopes for a lot from the Israeli peace groups. I am one of those who work with these peace groups to foster relations. We aim to cancel out the damage done by the current government. It's a government of crises. If we can influence Israelis to get rid of this administration we may yet reach peace. But with this current government, there is little hope and I am pessimistic.

Of course I do not support suicide operations. I criticise strongly any kind of operation that has civilians as its target Arabs or Jews. These don't achieve anything for the Palestinian people - they just bring destruction down on them.

But there is an occupation, and a human under occupation will fight the occupier with whatever means are at his disposal. So I am in favour of Palestinians resisting against the Israeli army and the settlers as well. I do not personally oppose any operation that is carried out in the Palestinian territories. I criticise and oppose any operation that is carried out in Israel in Haifa or Tel Aviv or Acre or Jerusalem or elsewhere. The Palestinian people must concentrate their effort on overcoming the occupation in the West Bank and Gaza - the territories occupied in 1967.

But while I condemn the suicide operations, I also have to say that the Israeli army's operations in the West Bank and Gaza nourish the idea of suicide operations among Palestinian youths. The Israeli army's entry into the Palestinian towns and villages, the killing of hundreds and the destruction of homes, creates hundreds of youths who prefer suicide in Tel Aviv or Haifa over the life they lead.



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