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Residents of Assira to march directly to Nablus

Press Release: Residents of Assira to march directly to Nablus

Thursday, May 11th 2005: Students and workers from Assira Al Shamaliya, accompanied by Israeli and international peace activists, will march from their village to Nablus on the Sebaatash Road, which has been closed by the Israeli army for more than four and a half years. A military base is stationed there.

Since the beginning of the second Intifada Nablus has been under siege and movement in or out of the city almost impossible. This has had a devastating effect on the economy of the city and the neighboring villages. Although, for the past two weeks, people of all ages have generally been permitted to pass through the checkpoints, it is still impossible for vehicles to pass, with the exception of thirty-five taxis and less than one percent of the population of the city who have managed to obtain vehicle permits.

Goods permitted to enter or leave the city must pass through a trade checkpoint and be transferred "back to back" between vehicles on either side of it. This requires the truck owners to have permits which must be renewed every one to three months. It is impossible for traditional small family businesses to cover the expenses incurred, adding to the poverty caused by the occupation.

Nablus, a city of 200,000 people within the checkpoints, was once the economic heart of Palestine. This was largely because of agricultural and dairy production in the nearby villages and the flourishing markets in the city. Shops and markets are now full of Israeli goods, often produced in the settlements. It is difficult and sometimes impossible to buy locally produced goods such as olive oil in the city.

Assira Al Shamaliya is ten kilometers from Nablus. Since the closure of the Sebaatash Road residents have been forced to take a detour of twenty five kilometers and pass through a checkpoint. The people of Assira are demanding that the Sebaatash Road is re-opened and direct access to the city resumed.


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