BULLETIN! Update from Jerusalem: The War For Jerusalem Begins (Special
Date: 10/22/00 11:15:06 PM Pacific Daylight Time
I have just received this message (see below) via another e-group SIG and
thought it important enough to pass it on.
Sadly, it looks like peace is not an option here!
And IMHO, after watching this scenario unfold in-depth for some time (and
especially after the results of yesterdays Arab Summit), Israel is getting
the "shaft" from all sides.
----- Original Message -----
From: Ben Yosef
To: ben Yosef
Sent: Sunday, October 22, 2000 7:01 PM
Subject: update from Jerusalem: BULLETIN: THE WAR FOR JERUSALEM BEGINS,
SPECIAL REPORT FROM GILO
Jerusalem Torah Voice
Ha-Milchamah l'Rushalayim matchilah.
The war for Jerusalem begins.
Exchanges of heavy-caliber automatic gunfire, armor penetrating bullets,
tank cannon fire, Vulcan machine guns and two Israeli Air Force air-to
ground missiles from helicopters. We have heard and seen it all tonight.
The front lines appear to be the entire southern flank of our neighborhood,
the mountain of Gilo and the Jerusalem Forest directly below us, the
northern and western enclosures around the Arab village of Beit Jalla,
which faces Gilo across a ravine and in recent weeks has become a
stronghold for Yasser Arafat's personal Tanzim Fatah militia.
Shortly after the Arab Summit ended on Sunday with Arafat telling Prime
Minister Barak to "Go To Hell," (in English yet) and that the Palestinians
would be "marching toward their capital in Jerusalem," and Barak responded
by proclaiming a "time out" in the peace process, tonight all HELL did
break loose and we've had anything but peace.
Since about dusk, Palestinians have been firing armor-penetrating bullets
with a range of about a mile into Gilo residences across the ravine and on
the southern face of the Mountain. At last report, 12 separate apartment
buildings containing dozens of apartments have been struck and IDF Security
Forces have evacuated all residents whose apartments face the ravine. We
have no reports at all of injuries tonight, Baruch Hashem, although earlier
a border policemen patrolling our neighborhood was struck in the chest and
remains in serious condition and one resident was lightly injured. But the
STORIES TONIGHT ARE HARROWING.
In one home, an armor penetrating bullet drilled handily through a 6"
concrete outer wall and went through a closet ripping holes in about six
feet of solid clothing hanging in it, before lodging in a corner wall. In
another apartment, the bullet went through a window narrowly missing a
family seated on their couch watching television. The trembling father
holding his young daughter showed Israeli TV the bullet holes at head level
above the couch. I am sure that there are dozens more stories like these
two we will read about tomorrow or hear on the radio, but these were
broadcast tonight on the 11:30 p.m. news.
The gunfire was not limited this time to Rehov Ha-Anafah (Anafah Street),
which has been the scene of recent attacks and, Baruch Hashem, spurred the
IDF to fortify the southern border of Gilo. This time about six other side
streets that intersect Rehov Margalit along almost the entire southern face
of Gilo also came under attack.
(NOTE TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY: In case you are wondering, the apartment we
are leasing is about 50 yards NORTH of Margalit and is not exposed to the
village of Beit Jalla, although from our windows, you can see the Jerusalem
Forest below. Also, I put my wife and son on a bus to a moshav in the
Aravah (Negev) this morning and they safely arrived about noon. I was
planning to take another bus myself to pick up a friend's van and be there
with them later today -- to take a little vacation from all of this -- but
the 2 p.m. bus to the settlement where I needed to go to pick up the van
(bus 166 to Tekoa, which came under fire yesterday), for some reason did
not run today. So I am still here in Gilo tonight and am planning to travel
to the Aravah tomorrow to be with my wife and son).
The IDF responded to the bursts of automatic gunfire initially with their
own machine guns emplaced on tripods atop sand bunkers which have been
erected along the southern face of the mountain since the attacks began
against Ha-Anafah Street about three weeks ago. The exchanges continued
most of the night on Jerusalem's southern border and attacks also occurred
at a checkpoint near Har Homa, the mountain just to the East of Gilo, where
a new Jewish settlement is being constructed. Once the gravity of the
armor-penetrating rounds was realized, and there was concern that the
Palestinian militia was attempting to open up a second front on the eastern
side of Gilo, the IDF opened fire with 50 caliber machine gun bursts from
tanks that line the southern border of the city. As the exchanges
continued still (and are continuing sporadically well after midnight as I
write) the Israeli Air Force brought in Cobra Attack Helicopters who fired
two air-to-ground missiles (which flashed across the night sky like a
shooting star), as well as Vulcan machine gun rounds at sniper targets. IDF
tanks stationed between the two communities also fired machine gun rounds
at factory buildings where the snipers were spotted.
About 10 p.m. tonight, the two tanks protecting the Tunnel Road (leading to
Tekoa and other settlements) that runs just to the east of Beit Jalla,
fired their cannon, presumably at the Tanzim headquarters where the
turrents have been aimed for more than three weeks (but I don't know that
More than a dozen buildings have been destroyed, however, according to the
Jerusalem Post Radio. Cannon fire was heard earlier Friday night as we sat
down for kiddush at our Shabbat tables. But on Friday night, the cannon was
only a warning shot aimed at a vacant area adjoining Beit Jalla. (The
demonstrations held on Margalit Street just outside of our apartment when
Prime Minister Barak visited the succah of the mayor of Gilo -- right
outside my son's bedroom window, DEMANDED that Barak use the cannon to
deter further attacks against the neighborhood. We are happy to say
tonight that he did!) This quieted things for a while, but steady barrages
of machine gun fire started up again as I was walking home around midnight
and the Cobra helicopters have returned. Machine gun fire is being
exchanged as I write, first a burst from the Tanzim, then a burst from the
Also, at least three Cobras equipped with night vision hovered over our
neighborhood (almost directly over our apartment and again over my friend's
apartment as we tried -- with a lot of distractions -- to watch the
Indianapolis Colts defeat the New England Patriots tonight on Middle East
Television. The slim-lined Cobras pointed their noses toward Beit Jalla and
floated sideways across the Mountain for most of the game, staying just out
of range of the shoulder-held stinger-like anti-Aircraft missiles, which
the Tanzim are believed to have in their arsenal, although we did not see
any missiles fired at the helicopters.
As I walked from my friend's apartment (on the northern side of the
mountain) about midnight after watching the football game, and crossed over
onto the southern side, I noticed another Cobra still hovering over the
Jerusalem Forest on the western end of Gilo apparently searching the forest
with night-vision technology to detect any movement. As I write, it is
After the gravity of the armor-penetrating ammunition the Palestinians were
using was realized, Prime Minister Barak order the IDF to first warn the
citizens of Beit Jalla to evacuate their homes before the IDF responded
with the Cobra helicopter missiles, Vulcan machine guns and cannon from the
two Patton tanks. They were given about an hour.
Instead the residents of Beit Jalla chose to remain and to try to protect
the Tanzim and turned out every light in the city to shield them in
darkness. When the Tanzim would open fire, the flashes from their guns
would give away their position and the IDF would respond with its own
machine guns. But since Israel brought in the heavy guns, Beit Jalla
residents are believed to be fleeing their homes under the cover of
darkness. There was no word of casualties on the Palestinian side as the
region is shrouded in darkness but I am sure the Palestinian propaganda
machine will have the figures for us in the morning.
Gilo, is a fairly modern community built on a high mountain to the south of
Jerusalem in the early 70s. It has gradually expanded into a large
community with dozens of synagogues, a city center with a central
supermarket and stores, a community center and police and fire stations and
at least three buses that run throughout the community every 15 to 30
minutes back and forth to the city center in Jerusalem. (It is also the
national headquarters for the Shabach -- Israel's equivalent of the CIA or
internal security services and contains a mammoth communication facility
with radar aimed toward the south.) It is almost totally Israeli. There
are only two Arab homes on a little rise in the mountain toward its
southwestern face (actually less than 75 yards to the east of us), but
these are peaceful neighbors, surrounded by thousands of mostly religious
Ashkenaz, Sephardi and Morrocan residents (and one JOE-ISH family, in our
However, since the community was part of the unannexed territories before
the 1967 War (in which Israel claimed the regions occupied by its Arab
enemies who lost the war they proclaimed and started against Israel), the
city is according to UN declarations, "part of the "occupied" territories"
which Arafat is seeking for his Palestinian State. At one time (about 10
years ago), the official position of the U.S. State Department was not to
accept invitations by Israelis to meet in Gilo (since it was believed by
the State Department, controlled by Arab oil interests, to be the
possession of the Palestinians).
Well, the gunfire has ceased for now and I don't hear any more helicopters
so I'm going to try to get some sleep.
Shalom & Hashem's love & blessings,