Israel Tightens its Occupation

(June 4, 2002)

Over the last few weeks, the Israeli army (IDF) has tightened its illegal occupation of the West Bank and imposed new, restrictions on the Palestinian people.

According to top military officials, the Israeli government aims to reassert its control over West Bank security eliminating the role of Palestinian security forces as spelled out in the Oslo agreement.

The West Bank has been carved into eight separate zones -Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin, Jericho, Nablus, Qalqilya, Ramallah and Tulkarem. Each of these centers is surrounded with Israeli troops and barriers, including trenches and barbed-wire fences. Palestinians must obtain permits to travel from one town to another. This has all but destroyed internal commerce, further crippling the West Bank economy. In short, every Palestinian population center is under military siege.

In another sign of Israel's intention to permanently occupy the West Bank, Israeli settlers have launched a big campaign to bring as many as 4,500 new settlers to the area by the end of the year.

As part of this occupation, Israeli forces are making daily military raids into Palestinian cities, killing civilians, destroying homes and property and arbitrarily arresting people.

Some of the most recent raids include:

On May 31, the IDF re-occupied Nablus and its neighboring Balata refugee camp. At least 1 Palestinian was killed, several homes were blown up and hundreds of people arrested. A curfew has been imposed on the city.

On May 26, 4 Palestinian civilians were murdered by the IDF, bringing the total to more than 75 Palestinians killed since the beginning of May.

On May 25, a Palestinian woman and her 12-year old daughter were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in a field in the Gaza Strip.

On May 24, the IDF used helicopter gunships, armored vehicles and machine gun fire during several sweeps throughout in the city of Tulkarem. At least 1 Palestinian was killed, eight wounded and more than 100 arrested.