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Sharon Intensifies Siege





In an apparent escalating aggression against the predominantly civil Palestinian population, heavily armed Israeli military forces raided this morning at 1:00 AM, local Palestinian time, the town of Surda, the main entrance to the city of Birzeit, bullldozing the main road linking Ramallah with more than 50 villages and towns including the city of Birzeit. As a result, telephone lines and water pipes were totally destroyed. Further, due to previous closures imposed on adjacent passageways, this road was being extensively used by travelers from the northern towns of Nablus and Jenin to Ramallah. As such, over 70,000 individuals living in these communities have been totally isolated, and denied access to basic life necessities including food and health services.

The town of Birzeit has become well known as the host of the leading Palestinian institute for higher education, Birzeit University. With the recent developments, more than 6000 students, faculty, and staff are prevented effectively from reaching the University Campus. In addition, communication facilities have been totally cut off for the University as well as the surrounding towns entailing that there is no means of maintaining contact with the outside world, further isolating the University's community.

According to the eyewitness reports of residents in the area, the damage has been extensive and would require substantial time and resources to be repaired. As such, the length of time before the residents of ten villages and towns will have access to methods of communications, water utilities, food supplies, and health services is unknown.

Birzeit University

P.O Box 14



"Never during the past 34 years of illegal Israeli occupation has there been a worse time for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza."


[Palestine Monitor - March 9, 2001]: The first day after Sharon's inauguration has brought an intensification of the siege imposed upon the Palestinian Territories. Palestinian villages, towns and cities are now completely isolated from each other. Our cities are becoming clusters of prisons.

The road that was closed yesterday (March 7th) had been the only route allowing Palestinians around Ramallah to access the city. Now Birzeit and Ein Arik areas are completely cut off by trenches, sand barriers and tanks; the Israeli soldiers manning these points are refusing to allow people to walk in the area or cross the barricades.

This means that the 68% of the population of the West Bank who live in rural areas, including the inhabitants of the 90 villages in the Ramallah area, are cut off from hospitals. Primary health care workers are unable to access villages and provide essential health services. Thousands of people are unable to get to their work. Farms face the growing risk of a disaster in the absence of water and food supplies, which will decimate both agricultural and livestock industries. The students and staff of Birzeit are unable to reach their university.

This afternoon Palestinian men and women participating in a Women's Day March, tried to move the barrier with their bare hands. Soldiers opened fire upon them with bullets and tear gas.

What is happening now is nothing less than war on the Palestinian economy, and an escalating aggression against the predominantly civil Palestinian population.

Never during the past 34 years of illegal Israeli occupation has there been a worse time for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.