Trebor Scholz on Mon, 1 Apr 2002 01:11:50 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Appeal for help from the siege of ramallah

30 March 2002, Easter Weekend

We are members of the international and Palestinian community trapped in the
Siege of Ramallah. 

On early Friday morning, 29 March 2002, Israeli forces re-invaded the city
of Ramallah.  The Israeli forces have occupied Ramallah completely and have
established tank positions throughout the city, in all civilian areas. We
can hear explosions, tank shelling and heavy caliber gunfire throughout the
night and day. Israeli snipers are shooting regularly in civilian
neighborhoods at times when they are not under any form of fire. As we write
this, there are US-made Apache attack helicopters overhead firing on the
city. Israeli bulldozers are creating permanent positions for the tanks in
and around private houses. There is the constant sound of tank movements
throughout residential areas.

Israeli forces have attacked the Presidential compound, and are now holding
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat hostage with no electricity, water or
phone lines. Members of President Arafat¹s bodyguards have been killed, and
others are still injured and being denied medical care. Conditions in the
city are now deteriorating rapidly.

Some of us have had experience in other sieges, in Sarajevo, Dili, and
elsewhere. There is a familiar pattern of emergency rapidly developing. This
is the beginning of a humanitarian crisis. Immediate intervention is
required to prevent a disaster.

No Movement Possible: Inhabitants of the city are under complete curfew.
There is absolutely no freedom of movement, even for ambulances, doctors or
international agencies, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross
(ICRC). There is no medical access. Palestine Red Crescent medical relief
workers have not been permitted to provide medical services to the local
population. Israeli forces are firing on anyone walking out on the streets.

On Thursday, based on fears of an Israeli re-invasion, more than 500
inhabitants, including foreign nationals, lined up in the mud and rain at
the Qalandiya checkpoint‹the only exit point from the city allowed by
Israel‹begging Israeli soldiers to allow them to escape. In response,
Israeli soldiers fired over their heads, exacerbating the panic and causing
most to simply return to Ramallah.

Israeli Forces Using Human Shields: Israeli soldiers are occupying an
increasing number of private residences and detaining the residents
collectively in single rooms, with little or no access to telephone lines,
news coverage or even food and water. In some cases, tens of civilians
(including entire families) are being held in one room. Meanwhile, Israeli
occupation soldiers have taken up armed positions in the houses or
apartments of these residents. Civilian detainees include foreign nationals.

No Access to the City: The ICRC, the UN and other humanitarian agencies are
unable to access the city or to access the civilian detainees and other

Food Resources Limited: There is no food entering Ramallah and no one is
allowed to restock. There will shortly be a food and drinking water crisis.
Some parts of Ramallah are already without water altogether. Israeli
soldiers are also eating the food of residents while taking up positions in
their houses. 

Electricity Being Cut: Large parts of Ramallah are without electricity and
heat. The weather has been raining and unseasonably cold - residents have
been struggling to keep warm. The lack of electricity also means that
residents are without television and any news reporting of the situation
outside their homes. Many residents of the city rely on cellular phones for
communication and without electricity they are unable to recharge their
phones. Therefore, the population is being held in isolation and there is
increasing fear and confusion. Also, some telephone landlines have been cut.

Prisoners Being Taken: Israeli forces are taking Palestinians prisoner, in
the streets and in house-to-house searches. Israeli troops are calling upon
all male residents between the ages of 16 and 40 in some neighborhoods to
³surrender². The wounded are being treated roughly and being denied
medical access. Now, their fate is unknown. There are reports of summary
execution of some prisoners. The ICRC does not have access to them to ensure
adherence to international law, and specifically the Geneva Conventions.

Gratuitous Vandalism and Destruction: There are on-going spiteful acts of
destruction. Most commonly, Israeli tanks are driving over and flattening
cars whether on the streets or parked on pavements in front of residences.
Personal property inside houses is being destroyed in house-to-house

We, the besieged people of Ramallah, appeal to all people of good conscience
around the world to mobilize immediately.

We particularly appeal to the people of Israel, in whose name these actions
are being taken, for help. To keep the option of peace alive, we appeal to
you to ask your Government to immediately lift the siege.

We appeal for the safety of all individuals.

We appeal for freedom of movement within the city and outside access to the

We appeal for food, medical supplies and access to medical treatment,
electricity, water, phone lines and other necessary facilities.

We appeal for access of humanitarian agencies, including the ICRC, to all
detainees, prisoners and hostages, including Palestinian President Yasser
Arafat, to ensure their well-being.


This appeal has been made to you by Palestinians, as well as nationals of
the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Jordan and other

For More Information:

Due to fear of retribution, the names and contact information of those
authoring this appeal have not been included. For their contact information,
please contact Michael (972-52-266-208).

International Committee of the Red Cross: Jer. (972-2) 582-8845, Tel Aviv
(972-3) 524-5286

UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA): (972-2) 589-0401

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