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Tightening Up the Siege and the Flow of Life
Wednesday, February 6, 2002

In recent days, Israeli military authorities have decided to step up tougher measures in terms of blockade, transfer of goods, mobility of people and sometimes isolating entire villages as in the West Bank.

Some people choose the dangerous path by walking through bypass country tracks despite the possibility of being shot at by soldiers. People have their different reasons to take the risk. According to Health officials, in many cases, 8 ambulances and patients are denied access to go to hospitals in bigger cities. There were few stories of pregnant women who delivered babies while waiting at checkpoints. In one case, one woman died.

The scene of blockade is more desperate in the West Bank. People who live in villages or small towns face the daily task of going to work in the near bye city. Some villages get closed off completely. Many face risks of harassment and humiliation. Some young people get arrested. For example, in the Gaza Strip, between the two main cities of Gaza and Khan younis, now becoming familiar reality, stories were told of young men stopped at checkpoints and then taken to the next settlement. Then, the soldiers and setters together beat up the young men for hours. After receiving the punishment, the Palestinian men get released.

At the checkpoints, Israeli soldiers are positioned inside an army cylinder like structure where they point their guns through narrow and small openings. Normally, they direct the traffic. Small mistakes are corrected by the sound of gunfire. Many cases were reported of bullets hitting innocent's

People who are not obliged to travel to the next city decided not to bother to leave town. Many have not left their town for more than a year. They say it is safer and no reason to go through the dangerous checkpoints.

In the case of cities like Hebron and Nablus in the West Bank, there are many times when the two cities get closed off completely from the rest of the West Bank. Israeli Military authorities always justify that as security measures. But many Palestinians believe that it is Israel's policy of collective punishment against all Palestinians.

The flow of goods is also affected in an attempt to break down the Palestinian economy. There is a famous Palestinian maker of dairy products located in Hebron. This popular factory, Al Junaidi, is always facing blocking of its trucks from leaving the city of Hebron in the south of West Bank. Preventing the Palestinians goods from leaving production sources give a bigger chance to Israeli goods to be sold within the occupied territories. The dairy products market is an obvious example.

This daily scenario of siege and humiliation has been going on for more than a year. It has created a great degree of frustration across all members of Palesintian society, even the president himself.

The Gaza Strip has been called the largest prison on the planet. There are 1.3 million people confined to a small area of land, locked inside electric fences and harassed and humiliated on the roads by soldiers and settlers.

Gaza City,
Feb, 6th. 2002


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