Before it's too late:
Palestinian Calls for Solidarity
FOR HELP FROM THE SIEGE OF RAMALLAH
2002, Easter Weekend
members of the international and Palestinian community trapped
in the Siege of Ramallah.
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
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 Arafat's
bodyguards have been killed, and others are still injured
and being denied medical care. Conditions in the city are
now deteriorating rapidly.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 prisoners.
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.
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.
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 "surrender". 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.
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 searches.
besieged people of Ramallah, appeal to all people of good
conscience around the world to mobilize immediately.
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
for the safety of all individuals.
for freedom of movement within the city and outside access
to the city.
for food, medical supplies and access to medical treatment,
electricity, water, phone lines and other necessary facilities.
for access of humanitarian agencies, including the ICRC, to
all detainees, prisoners and hostages, including Palestinian
President Yasser Arafat, to ensure their well-being.
FOR THE SIEGE TO BE LIFTED.
has been made to you by Palestinians, as well as nationals
of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia,
Jordan and other nationalities.
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).
Committee of the Red Cross: Jer. (972-2) 582-8845, Tel Aviv
and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA): (972-2) 589-0401
FOR SOLIDARITY FROM PALESTINE
undersigned, believe that a full-scale Israeli offensive throughout
the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) is imminent and
that such an unprecedented attack demands from global civil
society an unprecedented response. For this reason, we urge
global civil society - including human rights organisations,
solidarity groups, and individuals - to take immediate direct
action to stop Israel's all-out war against the Palestinian
people and its 35-year belligerent military occupation of
the Gaza strip and West Bank, including east Jerusalem.
officials have begun a massive military build-up, including
the mobilization of 10,000 army reservists, in preparation
for an openly declared war throughout the OPT that promises
to be widespread, prolonged, and bloody.
for the Palestinian people shown by international solidarity
groups, manifested in numerous statements, visits, and actions,
has proved invaluable throughout this crisis. Now is the time
for global civil society to use the momentum it has generated
and the ethical integrity it has demonstrated to forcefully
demand immediate action from governments to end the occupation,
which is the root cause of the conflict.
including those currently meeting at the UN Commission on
Human Rights, must face direct and unambiguous pressure from
their own people to immediately secure Israel's respect for
the Fourth Geneva Convention and its complete withdrawal from
the OPT as necessary steps towards achieving a just and lasting
end, we call upon all those who oppose occupation, apartheid,
ethnic cleansing, and war crimes, who are committed to justice
and peace, who are willing to speak truth to power, to:
your voices to break the conspiracy of silence among governments
that allows Israel, which enjoys the unlimited and unconditional
support of the US, to commit war crimes and other violations
of international humanitarian law with impunity.
vigorously, and publicly demonstrate before governments and
international organisations to demand immediate and effective
protection for Palestinian civilians in the OPT, through protests,
marches, media campaigns, and other peaceful means.
that governments end military assistance to Israel, suspend
economic ties, and support the prosecution of war criminals,
and urge other states to do so.
and intensify your activities as part of a sustained and systematic
campaign to end the occupation, apartheid, ethnic cleansing,
and war crimes in the OPT and to support the legitimate rights
and aspirations of the Palestinian people.
the time for immediate and direct action, as the pattern of
escalating oppression and brutality that we have experienced
over the past 18 months moves inexorably towards a disaster
whose consequences we can only begin to imagine. In this dark
hour of suffering and determined resistance, we are sure that
the worst is yet to come, but we are equally sure that, with
the support of global civil society at this crucial time,
peace and justice will prevail.