New report: Israeli restrictions divide West Bank to six areas
An Israeli human rights group said Tuesday Palestinians face collective punishment in the occupied West Bank under security pretexts. In its report, B'Tselem rights group said the restrictions on Palestinian movement were "directly related" to the presence of illegal Jewish settlements in the territory and called for their removal.
"Since the beginning of the second intifada, in September 2000, Israel has imposed restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank that are unprecedented in scope and time. As a result, the fundamental right of West Bank Palestinians to freedom of movement, their exercise of which was limited in any event, has become a privilege that Israel extends to them as it deems fit," the report said.
According to the report, Israel is deploying 47 fixed and temporary checkpoints, 455 physical obstructions on roads, and the Separation Barrier. Certain areas are under siege: entry is possible only through checkpoints and is subject to checks and possession of a permit. On 312 kilometers of main roads in the West Bank, vehicles bearing Palestinian license plates are forbidden or restricted.
The restrictions on movement that Israel has imposed on Palestinians in the West Bank have split the area into six major geographical units: North, Center, South, the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea, the enclaves resulting from the Separation Barrier, and East Jerusalem . In addition to the restrictions on movement from section to section, Israel also severely restricts movement within the sections by splitting them up into subsections, and by controlling and limiting movement between them.
The geographic division of the West Bank has far-reaching implications on every aspect of Palestinian life, the report noted. For example, the restrictions impede access to medical facilities, both of the medical staff and the patient. The difficulty in getting to work, the constant lack of certainty, and the greater expenses resulting from the restrictions gravely affect the economy and trade in the West Bank .
"Other negative ramifications include a decline in the supply of infrastructure services and in law enforcement in areas under the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority."
Israel contends that the restrictions on movement are imposed as part of its ongoing battle against security threats, and are not intended as punishment. "However, the vast majority of the victims of the restrictions are not suspected of personal involvement in any terror activity," the organization claimed.