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Swiss MPs visit Jenin

Palestinian children play in the rubble of Jenin


Three Swiss parliamentarians who have visited the rubble-strewn Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank say Switzerland should halt all arms exports to Israel.

The trio issued the call after inspecting the camp on Saturday. Jenin was the scene of fierce fighting over the last several weeks between Israeli forces and Palestinians.

"All we saw was heaps of rubble. It is a completely terrible situation," House of Representatives Social Democrat Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold told swissinfo.

"The Israeli troops have brought in bulldozers and tanks and pushed everything into heaps," she said.

"Houses are cut in half. One can see inside homes, which are littered with pieces of furniture and blankets."

Silence on arms

Vermot-Mangold said the Swiss Government could no longer be silent on the issue of arms supplies to Israel.

"Under no circumstance should weapons be supplied to Israel, because they are used against the Palestinians," she said.

Party colleague, Andrea Hämmerle, who also visited the camp, urged Switzerland to work with the Israeli peace movement and NGOs.

The parliamentary delegation included Green MP, Anne-Catherine Menétrey-Savary.

Vermot-Mangold said the visit had driven home to her the loss of hope among Palestinians.

"It affects you unbelievably to see these people who are completely helpless. All they can do is simply be there, talk with one another and grow silent," she said.

But she said the visit had demonstrated to locals that there was international solidarity for their cause. "It shows these people that their mourning, misery, and also their rage is taken seriously."

By Philippe Kropf, and translated by Jacob Greber

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