- This document serves as an update to the Appeal sent
on March 30 from members of the international and Palestinian community
trapped in the siege of Ramallah. All aspects of the general situation
described in that document still prevail (the original appeal is online
at www.oznik.com), and what follows are only some of the more recent
This document focuses on the situation in Ramallah only, as we have been
unable to collect any systematic information from other occupied
cities (six now, in addition to numerous villages). However, reports we
are receiving from friends and colleagues in these places indicate a
situation to the one in Ramallah --and in some of the more isolated areas
the level of Israeli violence seems to be even higher, due to the lack
of media coverage and international presence.
- Background: On early Friday morning, 29 March 2002, tens
of thousands of Israeli troops re-invaded the city of Ramallah in tanks
and armored personnel carriers and remain to this time. The Israeli forces
continue to occupy Ramallah completely. President Arafat is besieged in
his own compound with dwindling food and medical supplies. There are no
indications when the re-occupation will be over.
- Continued Curfew: All of Ramallahís 250,000
remain under 24-hour curfew. They are under the threat of being shot on
sight should they leave their homes for any reason. Tuesday morning, for
example, a woman who left her home to take her young son to the hospital
was shot dead in her car by an Israeli sniper. On Wednesday, a number of
foreigners in Al-Bireh were shot at even though they were announcing via
megaphone that they were unarmed and trying to get supplies from their
office. These are only two examples of many.
- Ambulances, doctors and humanitarian agencies are still
unable to move. Wounded are need of medical attention. Doctors have been
asked to remove many bodies from downtown buildings, but they cannot reach
the buildings due to tank positions and continued firing. The bodies have
been decomposing and there is fear of an epidemic breaking out. There is
no current capacity to respond to an outbreak if it occurs.
- Tuesday afternoon, after five and a half days of total
curfew during which the population could not leave their homes to obtain
food, water or any needed medical supplies or treatment, the Israeli forces
announced a lifting of the curfew in some areas for two hours to allow
a few shops to open so that people could get provisions. Due to the
the shops that did manage to open had to ration their goods to a limited
amount per family. The announcement of the lifting of the curfew was made
in some areas while in others people left their homes at their own risk.
As people ventured into the streets, however, Israeli snipers continued
to open fire, terrifying those in the streets and causing injuries. We
managed to confirm two injuries, one a 14-year old boy who is still in
hospital. There are unconfirmed reports of others, but it is impossible
to receive a comprehensive idea of events in the current situation. The
curfew was re-imposed at 6:00pm, now for an indefinite period of
- The Israeli army informed diplomatic missions that
in Ramallah would be allowed to leave the city through the two checkpoints
during this two hour period: Qalandia and the DCO. However, individuals
were expected to make their own way to the checkpoints. A miniscule number
managed to evacuate, as many do not have cars (either because they do not
own cars or because their cars were destroyed by Israeli tanks on the
Even those with cars did not feel at all safe attempting to travel under
continued gunfire. In fact, anyone reaching a checkpoint came under direct
Israeli fire. For this reason, and for reasons of solidarity, most of
international community remains in the city.
- Terrorisation of the Population: Ramallah is constantly
filled with the sounds of heavy caliber gunfire, tank shell explosions
and helicopter gunships circling above, even when the general situation
is calm and there is no Palestinian resistance. This is taking a heavy
toll everyoneís nerves, and children are particularly affected.
All families live under the constant fear of having their homes invaded
(or re-invaded) by Israeli troops.
- Early morning Tuesday, the Israeli forces started an
offensive against the Preventive Security headquarters, with 400 desperate
and terrified policemen, women and children inside. The non-stop, intense
attack involved the use of Apache helicopters and tanks from about 1:30
am throughout the morning, and sporadically until noon. The sounds of
helicopter machinegun and pounding rocket fire, as well as repeated tank
shells could be heard all around Ramallah for the entire night. In areas
throughout Ramallah, windows and mirrors continued to shake during the
onslaught. Residents in the Beit Hanina neighborhood in Jerusalem also
couldnít sleep from the sounds of the intensity of the attack. The
electricity was cut off in some neighborhoods, making it difficult for
residents to know where the attacks were occurring, creating a sense of
- Shortage of Water Supplies: The water situation in
has become dire. The water supply to Ramallah Hospital has been completely
cut off. Some areas of the city have also lost their water supply and
are forced to collect rainwater. This is extremely dangerous to the public
health situation, as safe drinking water becomes unavailable and general
- The four water pumps in the Beitunia area (responsible
for providing water for a large part of Ramallah) were severely damaged
in the shelling and the subsequent Israeli occupation of the pumping
Two of the water pumps can be fixed. The other two pumps are thoroughly
damaged and cannot be fixed without spare parts. Needless to say, such
spare parts are not available.
- The water company repair teams are not allowed free
to the pumps. In some instances, these teams have been shot at by the
forces. The teams have been able to gain some access when accompanied by
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) personnel. The ICRC,
- Even if the pumps are repaired, the water pipe network
has been extensively damaged in the bombing and also needs repairs. The
water company is attempting to fix some, but its staff regularly comes
under Israeli fire.
- Lack of Electricity: Of the nine electricity-feeding
stations in Ramallah, six are inoperative. Attempts to fix the damaged
ones are facing the same constraints as the efforts to fix the water
- i.e., any attempt by workers to repair the damage is met by Israeli
- In addition, a large number of electrical poles are
and are inaccessible to repair crews due to the curfew.
- Israeli Forces Using Human Shields: Israeli soldiers
are still occupying a large number of private residences and detaining
the residents (often in large numbers) collectively in single rooms. This
includes foreign nationals. Often these detainees are not allowed to
speak to each other for periods of hours or days. We also have confirmed
reports of Palestinian children being forced to stand in the windows of
their homes to protect the Israeli intruders from any possible Palestinian
- A doctor at the Arabcare Medical Hospital was held at
gunpoint in front of Israeli soldiers as they searched the hospital on
three separate occasions. When the doctor asked them not to contaminate
the surgery, he was physically roughed-up.
- Some 60 civilians were arrested Tuesday night and were
to be used during the attack on the Preventive Security headquarters. The
civilians were put in front of the Israeli forces to prevent the
from shooting back at the advancing tanks, until they were finally removed
and detained in a single room.
- No Access to the City: Diplomatic missions are being
barred daily from entering Ramallah. An EU convoy composed of
was turned back on Tuesday.
- A UN convoy carrying medical and food supplies to the
Ramallah Hospital was repeatedly fired on by Israeli forces and one UN
staff member was arrested and is still detained. Fortunately, the convoy
managed to get through. However, no other international relief efforts
have been allowed passage into the city.
- Food Resources Limited: During the lifting of the curfew
on Tuesday, only a small number of shops could open. It was not possible
to move from one area of town to another as tanks were stationed on main
roads and intersections, and many shopkeepers could not open their shops.
Some of the shops were looted by Israeli soldiers and were out of many
supplies. There were long queues in front of shops that could open, and
some basic provisions ran out. As a result, there remains a large shortage
of basic provisions, especially for infants.
- Even if the curfew is lifted again, provisions in shops
are now limited or non-existent since they are not being allowed to be
replenished. No food supplies have been allowed to enter the city.
- Prisoners Being Taken: Israeli forces continue taking
Palestinians prisoner in house-to-house attacks and collective roundups.
All males between the ages of 16 and 40 are subject to arrest for no reason
other than their age and sex. Until Monday night, the number of prisoners
was 700 according to Israeli figures. It is impossible to ascertain the
exact number. The ICRC still does not have access to these prisoners to
ensure adherence to international law, and specifically the Geneva
Reports indicate that these prisoners are being held in deplorable
- Some prisoners are being released. They are being dropped
either at the center of Ramallah or at distant checkpoints, and are
to make their own way to their homes under the curfew and the
policy. Many are forced to take refuge in abandoned buildings where they
have no provisions, or among families in these neighborhoods, where they
have to share these families already meager supplies.
- Arrests have also targeted medical and relief workers.
We have confirmed reports of five medical workers arrested from the
Red Crescent hospital, as well as a human rights worker from the al-Haq
organization. As of writing this update, we have seen armored personnel
carriers approaching the Red Crescent headquarters, heard explosions and
now are hearing reports that it is being raided.
- Gratuitous Vandalism and Destruction: There are numerous
reports of soldiers stealing from residents and gratuitously destroying
property. In one such confirmed instance, soldiers stole gold from a
apartment, took 400 shekels (approx. $100) and destroyed packaged food
and furniture. Another confirmed report involved a group of Israeli
occupying the apartment of a lone female resident - they ransacked the
premises, harassed her verbally, helped themselves to her dwindling food
supply and crushed her car with their tank when leaving.
- There are a number of reports of soldiers making sexually
inappropriate comments to Palestinian and foreign women during houseraids
and when driving by to enforce curfews.
- Disproportionate and Unnecessary Use of Violence: Israeli
tank shells and machine-gun fire continue to be heard constantly throughout
Ramallah, even though there is generally little or no Palestinian
- Explosives are being used to knock down doors, and
guns have been repeatedly used against buildings with people inside.
- We, the besieged people of Ramallah, continue to appeal
to all people of good conscience around the world to mobilize immediately
and not allow the continuation of the siege to breed complacency.
- We appeal to the people of Israel, in whose name these
actions are being taken, to make their voices heard. This is the time for
you to tell Palestinians that they still have partners for peace. Your
silence now is the death warrant for the prospects of peace.
- We urgently appeal for food and drinking water, and for
the general access of all humanitarian agencies. The situation is on the
verge of a humanitarian disaster.
- We appeal for the safety of all individuals.
- We appeal for the immediate and total withdrawal of the
occupying forces from all Palestinian towns and villages.
- We appeal for medical supplies and access to medical
treatment, electricity, water, phone lines and other necessary
- We appeal for freedom of movement within the city and
outside access to the city.
- We appeal for the immediate end to vandalism, looting,
humiliation, and gratuitous violence and destruction.
- 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.
- WE APPEAL FOR THE SIEGE TO BE LIFTED.
- This appeal has been made to you by Palestinians, as
well as nationals of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada,
Jordan and other nationalities.
- Due to fear of retribution, the names and contact
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