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Tuesday, 12 March, 2002, 17:57 GMT
Eyewitness: 'You can just be fired on'
Palestinian gunman
Only gunmen are out on the streets
The Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank has been overrun by dozens of Israeli tanks in what is the largest Israeli deployment since the start of the uprising. BBC News Online spoke to some city residents.


I've just heard that a 65-year-old man was shot near here

Reem Iqal
Reem Iqal works as a nurse at Ramallah Central Hospital. She lives on Irsal street, the main road into Ramallah from the north which runs past Yasser Arafat's headquarters.

"I've not been able to get to the hospital at all. It's surrounded by Israeli tanks and came under fire."

Heavy clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen took place around the hospital.

Hospital sources have also said ambulances trying to reach the wounded came under fire in the city.

"We've not gone out since 2200 (midnight GMT) on Monday night when we heard the first tanks. At 0200 in the morning there was shelling and cannon fire," Reem Iqal said.

Staying indoors

Reem Iqal says a friend of hers lives in a nearby building that was raided by the Israeli army early on Tuesday morning.


Now, after dark nobody is going out because you can just be fired on at any moment

Mohsen Subhi
"They shot at the building's entrance and went from apartment to apartment rounding everyone up.

"She tells me they were all herded into the cellar and held until 1700 on Tuesday evening. They were all then released. Nobody knows why they were held all day.

"I've just heard that a 65-year-old man was shot near here. I won't be going out until the situation changes."

Past experience

Mohsen Subhi, a 22 year old resident of Ramallah, was in al-Tirah, on the outskirts of the city when the incursion began.

Detained Palestinians at the al-Amari camp
With their hands tied, al-Amari men wait to be interrogated
"The tanks went by here on their way to al-Manarah, the centre of the city," he told BBC News Online.

"My parents live right in al-Manarah and there is no way I can get back there at the moment. The only people out on the streets are the fighters.

"We hear that there is fighting in al-Amari [a camp at the entrance of the city] and they have destroyed houses there.

"Now, after dark nobody is going out because you can just be fired on at any moment. Even ambulances are being fired on. People are practical about these things, they've experienced this before."

Palestinian legislator Dr Hanan Ashrawi who lives in the city said this was the worse incursion so far.

"They are everywhere in Ramallah and nobody can move anywhere. People cannot walk outside their house, look outside their windows.

"Ramallah is a very open city with large expanses of land. It is unlike Gaza where it is very densely populated so it feels like a ghost town. It is eerily quiet and yet you hear only the shelling sporadically," she said.

See also:

12 Mar 02 | Middle East
Six Israelis killed in gun attack
12 Mar 02 | Middle East
In pictures: Israel goes in hard
12 Mar 02 | Middle East
Controversy over 'execution' pictures
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