20 March 2001

Both international pressure and local protest were instrumental in having the road linking Birzeit University to Ramallah partially re- opened. Palestinian public workers were "allowed" by the Israeli military authorities to repair Israel's wanton destruction of Palestinian public property - once more at Palestinian expense. However, roads to the north of Birzeit remained closed and the situation of the over thirty villages dependent on these roads for livelihoods, medical care and provisions remained extremely difficult. Over the weekend, the University opened for student registration for the second semester with a week's delay. Yesterday, the first day of classes, Birzeit students and staff traveling to the University in the early morning were confronted with armed Israeli soldiers on the road checking many vehicles and persons with delays that took more than an hour to get to the University. Birzeit University faculty and staff alert that this military presence on the road produces tension and pressure on the University's 5000 students that is unnecessary, unhealthy and provocative. While the checkpoint was eased later in the day, the University demands that the Israeli army leave the road, desist in harassing students, staff and thousands of villagers at will, and allow students and staff to pursue their studies and teaching in a calm, non-military atmosphere. Birzeit University and staff also urge the international community to continue the pressure to lift the siege of all Palestinian towns and villages as a first step towards ending the Israeli occupation and establishing a just peace of equal partners, rather than oppressors and victims. The campaign on behalf of Birzeit University had impact. More is needed. Call for the Removal of the Ramallah - Birzeit Road Israeli military checkpoint. Call for the international protection of Palestinian people.

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