UN: Israel has added dozens of new roadblocks in West Bank
UN finds number of roadblocks increased by 52% since 2005, despite repeated promises to remove some of them.
Despite repeated promises to reduce the number of roadblocks in the West Bank, Israel has in fact added dozens of new ones, according to the United Nations.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak promised U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this week to remove 24 roadblocks and consider additional alleviations of movement restrictions on the Palestinians. This followed a similar promise to alleviate movement restrictions that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
However, the number of roadblocks has now reached 572, an increase of 52 percent compared to 376 in August 2005, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In the past two months alone, Israel put up 40 new roadblocks, OCHA said.
Israel did remove a small fence along Road 317, in the Southern Mount Hebron region, doing away with 29 barricades. But OCHA found that 48 new roadblocks, mostly embankments preventing access to various roads, were put up.
Altogether, there are 476 unmanned roadblocks in the West Bank, consisting of concrete cubes, earthen embankments and other barricades blocking roads and exits from villages and towns.
The number of manned roadblocks has also increased, from 86 in July to 96 today, the UN found. Most of them are manned by soldiers round the clock, but some are manned only a few hours a day.
Since April, the defense establishment has refused to provide data about the number of roadblocks. In the past, defense officials said that many of the roadblocks were added to protect settlers, and not only to prevent terror attacks in Israel.
The UN figures do not include checkpoints set up along the Green Line.