Richard Gere visits Ramallah under curfew

Above: American actor Richard Gere and Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi pause for the media after their meeting at her house in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Tuesday, June 3 , 2003. ( AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

3 June 2003 — Richard Gere, the famous American actor and star of many Hollywood movies, visited the West Bank town of Ramallah today.

After a short wait at Qalandiya checkpoint, Gere drove into Ramallah which has been under military curfew for the past 24 hours, and had a briefing with several prominent figures in Palestinian civil society, including Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Souad Ameri, Vera Tamari, Cairo Arafat, Riad Malki, Assad Al-Asad and others. He also met with the Palestinian Authority Minister of Culture and his staff and Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi.

The visit was coordinated by Palestinian film makers who wanted to show Gere the reality of Israeli occupation and its consequences for the 3.2 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

One of the delegates commented, “In the briefing we explained to *Mr. Gere what the situation is like here, for all aspects of Palestinian society — but it made a great difference that he had to go through the checkpoint and then drive through the deserted streets of Ramallah, with the civilian population locked in their homes. He could see and experience what life is like for us with the Israeli military on the streets”.

Gere arrived in Tel Aviv airport on Monday for a three day tour of Israel and the occupied territories. Other areas he visited included the Palestinian town of Furedis, north of Jerusalem.

EI added material to this report.

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