News Alert: Israeli Occupation Forces Close Ramallah-Birzeit Road

From the archive (legacy material)

Birzeit University News | 9 October 2003

On Wednesday, October 8, 2003, Israeli occupation forces closed off the Ramallah-Birzeit road, prohibiting even pedestrians from crossing the kilometer-long checkpoint situated near the village of Surda. Since the majority of staff and students live in Ramallah, they were denied access to the University. The University was forced to cancel classes and all other activities. At the same time, the Israeli army placed a curfew on Birzeit town from the early hours of the morning until the afternoon, prohibiting all residents of the town from leaving their homes. In the early hours of the morning, Israeli soldiers entered several buildings which house students and faculty in the town of Birzeit and forced them to leave their apartments and stand in the streets while the Israeli forces searched the buildings.
In one incident, Israeli soldiers forced 15 students to clean up one of the streets from rocks and debris, taking their identification cards from them. After the students had completed the task, the Israeli soldiers returned their ID cards and as they were returning to their homes, a second group of soldiers arrived on the scene and began randomly shooting at the students in clear sight of the first group of soldiers. As a result two students were shot; one student, Amr Batma, was seriously wounded when a live bullet fractured his leg; the other student Bashar Mashaa was hit in the hand with a rubber bullet. An ambulance was called to the scene but was delayed for half an hour by the Israeli soldiers. When it could get through, the ambulance rushed both students to Ramallah Hospital where Amr had to undergo surgery. He is currently in stable condition. Both students are fourth year Engineering students from the village of Battir in Bethlehem.
Today, Thursday October 9, 2003, the Ramallah Birzeit checkpoint at Surda remains hermetically sealed, preventing any travel or access to the University. Some students and faculty from the town of Birzeit were able to reach the campus, which was subsequently surrounded by Israeli soldiers. The Israeli soldiers intermittently shot and threw sound bombs at the two entrances of the University and blocked anyone from entering or leaving the University until 11:00 AM.
In the two days preceding the total closure of the Ramallah-Birzeit checkpoint at Surda, the Israeli soldiers have been setting up temporary and random roadblocks on various points along the Ramallah Birzeit road, prohibiting individuals from passing for several hours at a time. The soldiers are stopping students and asking them questions about their academic situation and personal information including their telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.
These actions by the Israeli soldiers: firing at unarmed students, denying access to education, and surrounding educational institutions, are clear violations of international human rights conventions. We call on the international community to defend human rights by taking immediate action against these most recent activities which deny our students their right to an education.