At 1 a.m. this morning Israeli soldiers imposed a total siege of Palestinian villages within the Occupied Territories. They have dug a trench and installed a blockade, starting from Sorda village near Ramallah, from Ein Sheikh Yusef, up to the town of Bir Zeit. The trench and blockade is 2 metres into the earth, and it is about 150 metres in length. This total siege prevents any access to or out of the areas by vehicle.
25 Palestinian villages, and their 65,000 residents, have been affected by this closure, in particular El Mizra'a el Qiblia, and Abu Qash, Kobar, and Abu Shkhedim. The Israeli soldiers, in the course of digging up the trenches and installing the blockade have destroyed the water pipes (the only water supply outlets) and telephone cables of these villages. The residents are left without any water or telephone access.
Students of Bir Zeit University are meant to start the new University term on 17 March 2001. However, the five thousand students attending the University will be unable to gain access as all access roads and routes to Bir Zeit University from other Palestinian villages or towns have been closed off by Israeli soldiers.
Other than Bir Zeit, these villages will also suffer from lack of access to medical treatment or care, as there are no hospitals or medical clinics in these villages. The residents would usually go to Ramallah for medical treatment, however all movement by vehicle out of the villages is prohibited. Furthermore, the Israeli forces are also stopping the delivery of any crucial supplies into the villages, including medical supplies.
According to Dr. Albert Aghazarian of the Public Relations department of Bir Zeit University, and other residents of the 25 villages affected, there have been no recent clashes or demonstrations in the area. Furthermore, there have been no shootings from these villages at Israeli soldiers or settlers. There are no genuine security or military reasons for taking these measures. The total siege is being imposed by the Israeli government as a repressive form of collective punishment, which is prohibited by international humanitarian law.
LAW demands that the Israeli government stops its violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by ending the total siege imposed on these Palestinian villages.
LAW demands that the residents of the 25 villages be immediately granted access to essential supplies (including water supplies and telephone) and medical care and treatment.
LAW asks the International community to intervene to take measures to stop Israel's on going and escalating violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and to urgently intervene before the humanitarian crisis deepens within the Occupied Palestinian territories.
At around midnight last night, the authorities went a step further, and dug up two trenches in between Ramallah and Birzeit, cutting it off completely from the outside world. In addition to the trenches, the authorities broke off water pipes and cut off the telephone lines, prohibiting any kind of communication between the residents.
The two trenches are about 4 meters long, three meters wide, with a depth of 3 meters each. Beyond the two trenches, the bulldozer ruined another 100 meters of the road, by removing the asphalt, and digging up the road.
The only way for people to reach Ramallah is to walk along the edges of the trenches, and take a car going in that direction. The trenches and the ruined road fall in Area B. The students and staff of Birzeit University are on a four-day holiday due to the Eid Al-Adha. The staff are supposed to come back to the University on Saturday, March 10, while the students are due back on the 17th of March when the second semester starts. If the trenches are not closed off before Saturday, the staff will not be able to reach the University.
All the roads leading to the University from Al-Jalazon and northward have been closed for months, and the road dug up was the only link between the villages of Surda, Abu Kash, Birzeit, Jifna, Kobar and other villages with Ramallah.
Birzeit University condemns this act perpetrated by the Israeli authorities, and considers it an act of inhumanity and cruelty, aiming at imprisoning thousands of people in their own homes and towns, while at the same time prohibiting the students of Birzeit University from reaching the University campus to pursue their education.
March 8, 2021The road to Birzeit is still closed, and thousands of people are imprisoned in their own homes. Today, even worse than yesterday, four armored vehicles are patrolling the area where the trenches were dug, and people are forbidden to even cross on foot. So far, none of the residents of that area know what is going on, and why the Israeli authorities have gone to such extreme and inhumane measures.