The Closure of Al Ram
By Maisa Abu Ghazaleh
PNN ~ The occupying Israeli administration closed the only remaining passage of Dahiyat Barid between the Jerusalem suburb of Al Ram and the city.
The northern town was a part of the city until the Wall was imposed down the center of main street effectively prohibiting the movement of residents. There was one passage left and now that is closed.
The remaining passage, which was the area of Dahiyat Barid, was closed on Monday after being declared a "closed military zone" at the beginning of the month. Now that the Wall surrounds Al Ram and that one gate is closed, any possible travel must be conducted through the Ramallah checkpoint of Qalandiya.
The closure increased congestion in northern Jerusalem and Ramallah today after the Israelis declared passage between Al Ram and the rest of the city a "closed military zone" two weeks ago. The gate was the only means left of physical contiguity between the north and south of Jerusalem.
Since yesterday morning the Qalandiya Checkpoint is facing a major crisis with traffic not subsiding. Israeli soldiers continue to detain cars, public buses and passengers. Students and employees en route to work widely report being late.
In a meeting with the President of the Local Council of Al Ram, Sirhan Al Salama said, "I have already warned of the repercussions and the outcome of a unilateral Israeli decision which tries to impose a fait accompli."
He stressed that the closure of the gate today will "turn the lives of the inhabitants of the region into hell." Al Salama told PNN, "It has become a big prison where to enter or exit one must pass through military gates from which the Israeli occupation controls the movements of the residents of Jerusalem."
He added, "At the closing of this gate all entry and exit will be through Qalandiya which is already overcrowded. This means the transfer of approximately 60,000 Jerusalemites which increases the magnitude of the problem, particularly in the morning hours for students who will be forced to start out even earlier. And in the winter this is even more difficult. This is causing real suffering for the people, including those who are trying to get to work."
Al Salama stressed that this move was not related to geographical region but rather was being undertaken in terms of demographic. The 60,000 residents of northern Jerusalem's Al Ram and suburbs are also being threatened with having their "blue" Jerusalem identification revoked.
The head of the Al Ram council is pushing the Palestinian Authority to give more importance to the issue in negotiations with the Israelis. "How can we talk about peace at time when the Israeli government is converting large areas into prisons, even in Area B which is overseen by the Palestinian Authority in civil matters?"
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