Palestinians say easing of siege cosmetic

Published March 13th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

A top Palestinian official denounced Tuesday, March 13, as cosmetic the Israeli army's easing of a blockade on several towns in the West Bank, branding Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's policy towards the Palestinians as "cruel and inhumane." 

 

The army said it had "lifted" a closure on several West Bank towns on Tuesday after more than five months of blockade, but residents reported only a slight easing of restrictions. 

 

"This is a cosmetic arrangement. They are trying to tell the world that the siege has been lifted, which is not true," Palestinian information minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said at a press conference. 

 

"In reality, Sharon's policy is cruel, inhumane and specifically designated to provoke, not end, further violence. We will not allow Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to starve and suffocate our people," he added. 

 

The punishing blockade, imposed by the army to try to contain a deadly Palestinian revolt that erupted in late September, has devastated the economy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “We will not yield to Israel's policies. Simply occupation must end. It's not only about blocking roads, they should leave all our areas," Abed Rabbo said. 

 

Residents reported only a slight easing of restrictions of movement in the West Bank towns of Hebron, Qalqilya, Tulkarem and Bethlehem, while the army also partially reopened a road on the outskirts of Ramallah that was the scene of violent clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians on Monday. 

 

The road between Ramallah and Bir Zeit, where the West Bank's top university is located, had been blocked by the Israeli army as part of an intensified closure it said was designed to foil terrorism following information about a planned attack. 

 

The clashes, which saw one Palestinian killed by Israeli troops and another 15 injured, erupted during demonstrations by Palestinians seeking to reopen the road. — (AFP, West Bank) 

 

© Agence France Presse 2001

© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)

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