Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ramallah (Arabic: رام الله) is a West Bank city of approximately 57,000 residents, which is currently under Palestinian Authority control. It is located about 15 kilometers (10 miles) north-west of Jerusalem.
Ramallah was under Jordanian occupation from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War through the 1967 Six-Day War. It was then captured by Israeli troops, who were to remain there for 27 years. In 1994, the city was handed over to the Palestinian Authority under the 1993 Oslo Accords, which declared it to be "Territory A"; that is land under almost full Palestinian control. Due to the small size of this Palestinian enclave, its actual independence was always limited. Ramallah became the temporary headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, although Palestinians desired headquarters and ultimately a capital in East Jerusalem.
Ramallah in the Al-Aqsa Intifada
Since the beginning of the second Intifada in the autumn of 2000, the city of Ramallah was the source of attacks against Israel, in particular many of the suicide bombings carried out in Jerusalem organized in Ramallah. Groups of militants have operated around the city shooting Israeli civilians and the soldiers guarding them. In response, Israeli troops have often imposed curfews on the city, leading to great hardships among its civilian population.
Ramallah was also the place of the lynching of two Israeli reservists. They were captured by Palestinian policemen and were murdered at the police station. Their bodies were thrown into the mob, which mutilated them.
In December 2001, Yasser Arafat, the President of the Palestinian Authority who was staying in the city, was forbidden to leave until the assassins of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi were arrested. When that condition was met, Arafat was allowed to leave the city.
On March 12, 2002 Israeli tanks and troops entered Palestinian refugee camps surrounding the city and took command of some of its streets, in one of Israel's largest military operations ever in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. One Israeli soldier, 31 Palestinians and an Italian journalist were killed in exchanges of fire between the Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian gunmen. Since then Israeli troops have gone in and out of the city several times.
Ramallah is most famous for the Mukataa which is the governmental center of Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. The Mukataa, known also as "Arafat's Compound", was partly demolished by IDF's bulldozers and Arafat's headquarters was cut off from the rest of the buildings in the compund. In Operation Defensive Shield, Israel showed pictures of illegal weapons found in the Mukataa and said it proves Arafat's link to terrorism against Israel. On November 12, 2004, Arafat was buried in the courtyard of the Mukataa.
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