INTRODUCTION: In a week (1st-8th November) in which the Israeli government replaced their military governor with a civilian governor on the occupied West Bank, unrest spread among the largely-Palestinian population.
WEST BANK (VISNEWS - ELI FASTMAN, TEWFIC GHAZZAWI)
LV Israeli troops approach Bir Zeit University
SV CU INTERIOR Student seated on floor chanting (3 shots)
SV Troops enter
SV INTERIOR Troops move students from hall (2 shots)
SV/CU Chanting students walking through campus, some climbing wall (2 shots)
TV Students in campus sit-in
CU Professor Daniel Amit speaking
SV PAN Soldiers guarding university entrances (2 shots)
SV/LV Students load luggage into coach and leave (2 shots)
SV Empty university grounds (3 shots)
BEIRUT, LEBANON (VISNEWS)
CU INTERIOR Mahmoud Labadi PLO spokesman speaking
SPEECH (TRANSCRIPT) (SEQ 7): AMIT: "We have just been presented with an order by the military governor saying that this is a closed area, a military area. And we are telling them, no, this is a university, this is an academic institution, and we have opened it, and it is going to become an academic institution."
SPEECH (TRANSCRIPT) (SEQ 11): LABADI: "With the crackdown on the university, and on the students of Bir Zeit, and also at the (indistinct) university, proves that the Israelis and the Israeli occupation is an occupation whether it is an Israeli occupation or whether it is a Nazi occupation, or whether it is a British occupation or a French occupation. Occupation is always occupation whether it is Israeli or British, French, Nazi, or whatever it could be."
Background: INTRODUCTION: In a week (1st-8th November) in which the Israeli government replaced their military governor with a civilian governor on the occupied West Bank, unrest spread among the largely-Palestinian population. A curfew was imposed on the main Arab town of Hebron after anti-Israeli demonstrations, and on wednesday (4 November), the Israelis closed the prestigious Arab university of Bir Zeit.
SYNOPSIS: The university, near the largely-Arab town of Ramallah, is considered a centre of Palestinian nationalism. Last year, the Israeli authorities closed it down for a month after anti-Israeli demonstrations, and the same pattern prevailed this time. The latest trouble at Bir Zeit began on Monday (2 November), when students demonstrated fiercely in protest against the new Israeli policy of dividing the civilian and military administration on the West Bank.
The closure order at Bir Zeit was issued as troops were still surrounding the campus; all students and staff were ordered to leave. Those who did not were forcibly removed. Earlier in the day, troops had fired shots in the air and used tear gas to break up demonstrations.
The students marched through the campus chanting "Yes to the PLO -- no to autonomy". they were referring to talks being held this week between the Israeli and Egyptian governments on the Palestinian autonomy part of the Camp David accords. The Bir Zeit staff had their feelings expressed when Professor Daniel Amit spoke:
The students eventually agreed to leave the premises. The Israeli Supreme Court has upheld the closure, but asked the military authorities on the West Bank to give a date when the university can be re-opened. Coming after the imposition of a curfew on Hebron, and the demolition of two houses belonging to relatives of Arabs suspected of stabbing a Jewish settler, the Bir Zeit closure was cited by leading Palestinians as further evidence that Israeli has not softened its security policies.
In political circles, there were suggestions that the Bir Zeit closure could damage the Egyptian Israeli talks. Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has asked the Israelis for "confidence-building" measured in the occupied area. In Beirut, the Palestine Liberation Organisation's spokesman, Mahmoud Labadi, commented on the closure.
InitialsBB Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved