Currently all Palestinian cities in the West Bank, except Jericho, are under strict military imposed 24-hour curfew. In real terms this means that almost two million Palestinians in the West Bank are confined to their houses with heavy Israeli military presence on the streets enforcing the curfew.
This situation seriously impinges on the safety of the civilian population: patients cannot get to hospital, people are prevented from going to work, families cannot buy necessary food and medical supplies, children cannot go to kindergarten or even out to play and students are prevented from sitting their final exams.
Today a seven-year-old boy, Bassam Ghassan As-Saadi, was killed by Israeli soldiers in the Jenin refugee camp. He was out playing with other children when Israeli troops opened fire on them. Bassam was hit by live ammunition all over his body. Twelve year old Fida’ Nimr Abu Qandil was injured in the leg in the same incident.
The curfew is enforced by tanks and military patrols in addition to snipers positioned to shoot at anyone violating the curfew. Only when the Israeli army lifts the curfew can people leave their houses, but even then without full assurance of their safety. Last Friday three children and one adult were killed and several others injured when Israeli troops opened fire at them after conflicting information regarding the lifting of the curfew. The same confusion and chaos occurred in Ramallah yesterday leaving people injured by tear gas and rubber bullets.
Villages and rural areas are already isolated and disconnected from their surroundings due to the closure and siege. However the current curfew regime imposed on the main cities has severe effects on these villages as they rely on the cities for essential services such as medical care, education and employment. Currently even emergency services are inaccessible to villagers due to the curfews inside the cities.
The lengthy duration and far-reaching scope of the curfews clearly demonstrates that these are collective punitive measures imposed by the Israeli army upon the Palestinian civilian population. Currently the whole population suffers from the effects of the curfew. The use of collective punishment by the occupying power, in this case the imposition of prolonged and wide-spanning curfews is prohibited and illegal according to article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi said today: “During the last days many people have called the Palestinian Medical Relief with desperate pleas for help. People need medical treatment, medicines and some people are also running out of food and milk supplies. I fear a humanitarian crisis. In Ramallah today the Israeli army detained and seriously harassed a 57 year old American volunteer while she was assisting the Medical Relief in distributing humanitarian assistance”.
Palestinian cities currently under curfew: