Curfews Paralyze Six PA Cities

A full curfew has been imposed for several days on six Palestinian cities, confining about half a million people. In some cities, particularly Ramallah, residents walk the streets and some cars drive in a few neighborhoods. Nonetheless, the curfew has brought economic life to a standstill, and also paralyzed Palestinian government and educational institutions.

During the first week of the school year, Palestinian pupils managed to get to classes for no more than three days.

In Ramallah, Israel Defense Forces troops have kept patrols to a minimum, though yesterday a number of army vehicles were seen traveling on city roads, and an IDF unit occupied a position in an empty building across from PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's office compound.

In Nablus, IDF troops enforced the curfew and dug trenches on main roads to divide the city into several quarters. Local residents report that large contingents of IDF troops are deployed in Nablus; residents who are spotted outside in violation of the curfew are told to return to their homes. Nablus sources report that IDF troops have stopped firing at persons who are seen outside in apparent violation of the curfew (two weeks ago, a Nablus municipality worker who had a permit to move during the curfew was killed).

In Tul Karm, some residents have been trying to move from one building to another, despite the curfew, sources report. The sources say that IDF soldiers have been firing shots in the air whenever they spot apparent curfew violators.

Curfews have been imposed virtually without interruption in Nablus since June 21. Curfew conditions have been suspended in the city only 12 times (for a total of 75 hours). Since late June in Tul Karm, there have been 36 breaks (a total of 386 hours) in the near continuous curfew.