The Ramallah-Birzeit Road
 
The Path to Progress and Prosperity
June 5, 2002
 
The University has just issued a memorandum describing the effects of the closure of the Ramallah-Birzeit road on the education process for the University community as well as its effects on the well being economic and health wise - on the residents of the town of Birzeit and the more than 35 towns and villages neighboring Birzeit.  Copies of the memorandum have been sent to members of the diplomatic corps in the region as well as to international agencies involved in higher education and human rights issues with the hope that they use their good offices to see this siege lifted as a first concrete step toward the
reduction of current tensions and in order to allow Birzeit University to resume its normal operations and continue to contribute to progress and prosperity which are necessary underpinnings to development, hope and a just and lasting peace.
 
Memorandum
 
June 5, 2002
 
Birzeit University lies on the outskirts of the town of Birzeit, a few miles north of Ramallah. The University has a student
body of over 5,000 students and over 700 faculty and staff. The overwhelming majority of the University community
members reside in Ramallah and Jerusalem and their only means of reaching the University is through the
Ramallah-Birzeit Road.
 
Since the spring of 2001, the Israeli occupation forces have been obstructing vehicular and pedestrian travel along this
vital artery by various means. They have dug ditches in the road and erected barriers that have made vehicular travel
physically impossible and pedestrian crossing difficult and dangerous. The Israeli army has created a military checkpoint
that arbitrarily stops individuals for hours at a time to check their identity card numbers. Many students have been
stopped, beaten, humiliated, made to sit on dirt mounds, had their hands shackled and then were released. No reason is
ever given by the Israeli soldiers for stopping individuals or for this ill treatment. As such the ten minutes that it should
take to travel between Ramallah and Birzeit, has stretched into hours, greatly disrupting the normal operation of the
University and making the delivery of essential goods an arduous task.
 
The Israeli military have been continuously escalating their obstruction of travel along the road. Currently there are two
barricades across the road. The distance between the first and the second is about two kilometers which has to be
traversed by foot. Patients and invalids have to be carried on stretchers or wheel chairs as even ambulances are not
allowed and cannot cross this blockade.
 
On May 29, 2002 and for the ninth time since March 2001, the Israeli military totally barred pedestrians from crossing the
barricades, thus completely isolating the University and the residents of the thirty five surrounding villages in the northern
part of Ramallah district from Ramallah city, which is the hub of the region. All University operations have once again
ceased; the lives of the population of the northern Ramallah district has come to a standstill. Within a short period of time,
with access to health services and work denied, this critical situation will turn into a humanitarian disaster.
 
These escalating actions by the Israeli military serve no purpose whatsoever and are totally unjustifiable. They are a
flagrant example of arbitrary collective punishment of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Closures are clear violations
of all international norms and conventions and are completely unacceptable from any point of view, be it humanitarian,
political or economic. Furthermore, Israeli claims that security requirements are the rationale for the closure of the
Ramallah-Birzeit road are totally unfounded claims since this road connects directly between two Palestinian population
centers.
 
Birzeit University has dedicated itself during the past three decades to the educational, cultural, social and economic
advancement of the Palestinian people. The liberal atmosphere, respect for the individual, excellent academic standards
and modern facilities have made the University a prominent force within Palestinian society. Thousands of its graduates
occupy leading positions in the public, private and non-governmental sectors in a variety of fields, which has enabled the
liberal atmosphere of Birzeit to spread throughout the society. Further, Birzeit conducts various community development
projects, research and training through a range of community institutes and centers that promote democracy, human
rights, health, gender, the rule of law and environmental issues that positively effect governmental policy and raise
community awareness.
 
It is thus essential that the University be allowed to resume its normal operations immediately so that it can continue to
contribute to progress and prosperity which are necessary underpinnings to development, hope and a just and lasting
peace. Moreover, the restoration of free travel along the Ramallah-Birzeit Road, without ditches, barriers, military
checkpoints, or other impediments, would constitute an important concrete first step towards the reduction of current
tensions.
 
For further information about Birzeit University, you can contact us at webinfo@birzeit.edu or visit the University website
at www.birzeit.edu
 
Birzeit University
__________________________
Dalia Habash
Senior Information Officer
Birzeit University
Birzeit, Palestine
www.birzeit.edu