SHARON'S FIRST ACT - INTENSIFICATIONS OF THE SIEGE

[Palestine Monitor - March 9, 2001]:
The first day after Sharon's inauguration has brought an intensification of
the siege imposed upon the Palestinian Territories. Palestinian villages,
towns and cities are now completely isolated from each other. Our cities are
becoming clusters of prisons.

The road that was closed yesterday (March 7th) had been the only route
allowing Palestinians around Ramallah to access the city. Now Birzeit and
Ein Arik areas are completely cut off by trenches, sand barriers and tanks;
the Israeli soldiers manning these points are refusing to allow people to
walk in the area or cross the barricades.

This means that the 68% of the population of the West Bank who live in rural
areas, including the inhabitants of the 90 villages in the Ramallah area,
are cut off from hospitals. Primary health care workers are unable to access
villages and provide essential health services. Thousands of people are
unable to get to their work. Farms face the growing risk of a disaster in
the absence of water and food supplies, which will decimate both
agricultural and livestock industries. The students and staff of Birzeit
are unable to reach their university.

This afternoon Palestinian men and women participating in a Women's Day
March, tried to move the barrier with their bare hands. Soldiers opened fire
upon them with bullets and tear gas.

What is happening now is nothing less than war on the Palestinian
economy,and an escalating aggression against the predominantly civil
Palestinian population.

Never during the past 34 years of illegal Israeli occupation has there been
a worse time for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

The trench between Ramallah and Birzeit remains this day.  As reported, on
Thursday the trench was dug.  During the day the governorate of Ramallah
had the trench filled back in. Yesterday, the IDF again bulldozed the
trench, this time placing military personnel to block any foot traffic as
well.

Not only has the trench blocked traffic, affecting almost 70,000 people, it
has cut water, electricity and phone lines to thousands of homes.

Below is an update from Birzeit University.  Attached are two photos of the
destruction of the road.

Sincerely,
Sandra

Rev. Sandra Olewine
United Methodist Liaison - Jerusalem