Israeli Army Closes Off West Bank Village After Stone-throwing Incidents

Security forces closed all roads entering and exiting Hizmeh, and placed sign encouraging people to inform on others'; IDF says not 'adopting policy of collective punishment.'

Nir Hasson
Gili Cohen
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The sign posted in the village of Hizme, April 2015.Credit: Tamar Fleischman
Nir Hasson
Gili Cohen

Soldiers from the Israel Border Police last week blocked all entrances and exits from the West Bank village of Hizmeg as punishment for local incidents of stone-throwing. In addition, the IDF placed a large sign in the Palestinian village, north of Jerusalem, calling for residents to provide information about those "disturbing the peace."

The IDF spokesperson did not deny that the sign had been placed, but argued that the military does not use methods of collective punishment.

Last Monday, after several incidents of stone-throwing by local youths and children, Border Police forces closed all entrances and exits from the village. A sign placed at the village's eastern entrance reads as follows: "To the area's residents: Only a few are responsible for disturbing the peace - because of them, this barrier was placed. You must not cooperate with them! Stop these actions that harm your lives. For the sake of your well-being and the restoration of peace and security to your area, send any pieces of information on those who disturb the peace and on their activities in the area. Call: 072-258-7990 or e-mail: makeitstop2015@gmail.com. Abu Salam, Commander, Israel Defense Forces."

The IDF symbol appears at the bottom of the sign, and the dialed phone number leads to an English voicemail.

The sign was documented by Israeli activist Tamar Fleischman.

Security forces in Hizmeh. Credit: Tamar Fleischman

"The residents told me the sign was put there the day before. When the police saw me filming, they folded it up and placed in in their Jeep. I'm aware that collective punishment is practiced, it all exists, but I never saw it so intentional and open."

A Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem, who was in Hizmeh at the time of closure, was not allowed to leave the village and return home.

The IDF spokesperson said in response that "the village of Hizmeh serves as a center of stone-throwing and firebombs aimed at Israeli civilians travelling on the main road nearby.

The IDF takes great measures to protect passersby in the area. This was a limited and partial blockage of about 24 hours, which followed an escalation in the number of events."

Answering Haaretz's question about whether all the village's residents were being punished, the IDF answered that not all entrances to the village were blocked, and that "the IDF is not adopting a policy of collective punishment."