LAW 16 July 2002
Yesterday, Monday July 15, Israeli forces invaded the offices of the main Palestinian Internet service provider, PALNET, in Ramallah. They shut down its services to the West Bank and Gaza Strip for 24 hours and arrested six employees.
Mr. Raja’ee Is’eed of PALNET told LAW that Israeli forces stormed the offices of PALNET at 01:30 using a Palestinian as a human shield. PALNET staff who were at the offices that hour were forced out of the building. Israeli forces used Ghasan Al Jamal of PALNET as a human shield during their search in the offices. Israeli troops also destroyed the doors of other offices in the building including Al Masruji Company. Is’eed added that Israeli forces arrested six staff members, including Is’eed, and transferred them to Ofer detention center were they underwent interrogation. The staff were freed except for a Jordanian national, who will be deported to Jordan.
PALNET provides Internet services to some 10,000 Palestinian subscribers, including various institutions and individuals, who account for 70 percent of the Palestinians who have access to the Internet.
The Internet is an essential means of communications for Palestinians trapped in the Occupied Palestinian Territories by Israeli military blockades and, except for the telephone, largely cut off from the outside world. Most Palestinians, living in the major towns of the West Bank are confined to their homes and placed under long curfews for more than three weeks.