Birzeit University and Community March for an End to Collective Punishment
Peace Must Be Built on Justice, Not on Ruin and Destruction

12 March 2001

Birzeit University faculty and staff are greatly heartened by the community and international solidarity shown in the wake of the Israeli army's destruction of the only road linking the University and thirty-three surrounding rural communities to Ramallah. On 12 March, on a bright spring morning, hundreds of Ramallah citizens, community leaders, representatives of NGOs, legislators and governmental officials joined Birzeit faculty and staff in a peaceful march and civil protest from Ramallah to the trenches gouged out of the road — the new “borders” in which Ramallah, Birzeit and surrounding villages are imprisoned and separated from each other. Today, communal action is brought into the forefront of the national agenda.

With an Israeli tank and outpost on the hill, hundreds of marchers climbed over the three trenches severing traffic on the road holding signs and banners against collective punishment and for academic freedom and Palestinian independence. Striking a very personal note, one faculty member with family in the northern part of the West Bank held a banner with the simple message: “Open the roads! I want to visit my mother.”

The Israeli army responded in the usual language of excessive force, hurling tear gas and shooting rubber bullets into the heart of the march. At some point, and in response, youth began to throw stones at Israeli jeeps positioned on the interesecting road. Wave after wave of Palestinian ambulances rescued marchers overcome by gas or hurt by bullets. Over 80 civilians were injured. Tragically, it was too late for one young Palestinian, Abdul Qadir Mohammad Ibrahim, who was killed by two live bullets that lodged in the chest.

His death is both a grim reminder of the almost 400 lost Palestinian lives since 29 September 2000 — and a portent of more bloodshed, loss of life and loss of hope if Israel's policy of siege and blockade is allowed to continue.

The national movement has called today for holding national protest marches targetting the checkpoints of siege on Wednesday, March 14th at midday. We appeal to you to organize similar marches and activites worldwide, protesting the strangulation of the Palestinian people and calling for the end of Israeli Occupation. No peace can be built on the destruction and ruin of another people, their society and their livelihoods.