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Monday, 29 July, 2002, 19:17 GMT 20:17 UK
Nablus residents defy Israeli curfew
Curfew breakers shopping in Nablus
Shoppers stocked up on much needed fresh vegetables
For the second day in a row thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets of Nablus in direct defiance of an Israeli army curfew.

Shops and banks in the West Bank town opened to accommodate the customers, who have been living under curfew for more than a month.


I'm just fighting to get food for my kids

Tamer Adnan, Nablus resident
The Israeli army imposed an around-the-clock curfew 40 days ago, but as the protest occurred the troops refrained from intervening.

Earlier, Israel arranged for the transfer of $15m in frozen tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority - the first such transfer since fighting erupted in September 2000

Confined to homes

In Nablus the curfew has been particularly tight - being lifted officially on five brief occasions to allow people to carry out all of their errands and stock up on supplies.

"I've been confined to my home for more than a month. I have eight children, we've eaten all we have," said Tamer Adnan, who broke the curfew to open his falafel stall.

Palestinian boy
30% of Palestinian under-fives are malnourished

"I'm just fighting to get food for my kids," he added.

Israeli soldiers in armoured vehicles surrounding the town did not attempt to stop the crowds.

"There is a curfew and we are aware of the violations. For the moment we are not responding," said military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Olivier Rafowicz.

Solidarity calls

The governor of Nablus, Mahmoud Aloul, who had urged residents to break the curfew, said he hoped the success in Nablus would spark similar protests in other towns.

"People who can't find food and need medicine and treatment should break the doors of their jail," Mr Aloul said.

"It's a way of civic resistance and it's a legitimate way, because we are not carrying weapons, we are not killing anybody," he added.


It's a way of civic resistance and it's a legitimate way, because we are not carrying weapons, we are not killing anybody

Mahmoud Aloul, Nablus governor

Israel started imposing its restrictions on seven out of eight major Palestinian population centres in the West Bank on 20 June following a spate of suicide bomb attacks.

International aid agencies have warned that the curfews are leading to a humanitarian crisis.

A widely leaked report by the US Agency for International Development suggested 30% of Palestinian children under-five are now suffering from chronic malnutrition - a 7% rise since fighting began.

And 21% are suffering from acute malnutrition.

Freeing up funds

On Monday, in what it described as a "goodwill gesture", Israel agreed to transfer $15m to the Palestinian Authority.

Israel collects customs and taxes for Palestinian goods passing in and out of Israel and is supposed to transfer the funds to the Palestinian Authority.

But since the beginning of the intifada Israel has refused to pass on the money, saying that it would be used to fund "terrorist" activity.

The transfer is the first of three instalments - Israel is currently holding about $600m of the Palestinian Authority's money.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has also ordered an easing of some restrictions on Palestinian civilians.

Mr Sharon ordered a shortening of curfew hours, the dismantling of some military checkpoints and raised the number of work permits for Palestinians working in Israel to 12,000.

Before the conflict, some 125,000 Palestinians crossed into Israel daily for work.


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26 Jul 02 | Middle East
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