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Mass popular protest throughout the Palestinian Territories; continued curfew and Israeli violence
22 September 2002
Late last night, Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza Strip spontaneously rose up and marched on the streets of their cities. In the West Bank this popular protest was particularly poignant as it was the first time in that the population has defied the three month long curfew imposed by the Israeli military.
The mobilizing factor for the demonstration was the Israeli ultimatum given to Yasser Arafat, and the continuing siege on his headquarters in Ramallah. However, talking to participants it became obvious that for many the siege and attack on Arafat was just the final straw, that many Palestinians were demonstrating the continuing siege and curfew on their own lives, the almost total reoccupation of the West Bank by Israeli troops, and the constant violence and assault on the Palestinians by the Israeli army and government.
In Ramallah participants report that the demonstration was peaceful with hundreds of men, women and young people walking to the center of town and pouring on to the streets. The peaceful nature of the demonstration was wrecked when Israeli troops fired live ammunition at the protestors. Israeli troops have reportedly killed four people, two in Ramallah, one in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus and the other in Tulkaram. The deaths of the two in Ramallah prove once more that non-violent demonstrations and popular protests against the curfew and occupation will be met by Israeli military force.
In the siege of the Ramallah headquarters of Arafat, the remaining few buildings are rapidly being destroyed by Israeli tanks, bulldozers and other heavy machinery used for demolition. The water and electricity supply has been cut off, and those inside have little food and water. Tanks and military jeeps drive around the destroyed compound engaged in psychological warfare, shouting over loud speakers and shining bright lights; for three days the sound of industrial equipment has not stopped, all these factors ensuring those inside are also unable to sleep. Residents around the compound had their doors and windows blown out when buildings were dynamited, and are in constant fear of what will happen next they too being punished by the Israeli actions.
Update from The Palestine Monitor