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First-Hand Reports

Palestinian Life Totally on Hold
While Israel Feasts

Palestine Monitor
October 9, 2003

In an unprecedented announcement the Israeli GOC Central Command Major General Moshe Kaplinski issued an order on Wednesday prohibiting all Palestinian vehicular traffic in the North West Bank. The order was meant to be enforced in those parts designated Area C (full Israeli control) for the next four days.

Being the first time such an order has ever been issued the reaction was one of outrage and disbelief particularly coming at a time when Ahmad Qurei has consistently and publicly called for a return to the negotiating table. Today however, Thursday 9, October, Palestinians are facing a complete shut down of the entire West Bank. Not only are Palestinians being prohibited from entering Israel but all West Bank cities, towns and villages have been subjected to a full closure. The entire West Bank is at a standstill. Not only are all existing checkpoints denying any movement but multiple additional road blocks and “flying checkpoints” are being enforced with Israeli jeeps sporadically dispersed on all roads throughout the region.

Expecting only the closures in the northern parts of the region the majority of Palestinians went about their daily business today, only to find as the day went on that they had become trapped, many stranded between checkpoints or simply unable to return to their homes after work. At Surda checkpoint to the North of Ramallah soldiers threw tear gas and opened fire on parents and children attempting to return to their homes from the city. These people were unarmed civilians merely trying to carry out their everyday routines.

Furthermore, it is somewhat ironic that this complete shut down of Palestinian life, which is further hindering the already disrupted harvesting of Palestinian Olives is intended to endure the length of the Israeli feast of Sukkot – originally a harvest festival at which time the farmer would celebrate the reaping of the seasonal fruit and the gathering of the vintage. Meanwhile, as the Israelis enjoy their feast, the olives which provide numerous Palestinians with their livelihood are left to rot un-harvested, the Palestinian farmers shut up and prevented from leaving their villages.

This closure has compounded the fears already building up amongst the Palestinian people following the news that Israel plans to call up four battalions of reservists after the Sukkot holiday. Israel is showing signs that it has no qualms with escalating the current situation with actions that demonstrate a clear violation of International Law. Whilst the killing of Israeli and Palestinian civilians is to be condemned, forcing Palestinians to remain within their cities, towns and villages via the use of closures and curfews, is a form of collective punishment.

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Videos & Multimedia

Amnesty International Video:
Dina Goor, Yesh Din

Video – Soldiers Force a Palestinian to Play Violin at Roadblock

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Additional Resources

PCHR Fact Sheet – The Illegal Closure of the Gaza Strip

B’Tselem Report – Restrictions on Movement

World Bank – 27 Months of Intifada, Closures, and Palestinian Economic Crisis

Amnesty International – Surviving Under Siege

Palestine Monitor – Curfews and Checkpoints

Organizations

Machsom (Checkpoint) Watch

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