The Israel Defense Forces closed over 10 access roads last week, some of them central, near the town of Hawara in the northern West Bank. Residents say that the roadblocks prevent tens of thousands of people in the Palestinian communities near Hawara from moving freely and entering the city directly.
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Hawara’s main artery, which also serves as a main access road to the settlements in the northern West Bank, was not closed. However, the roads between Hawara and the towns of Beita, Inabus and Burin have been blockaded, as well as roads inside Hawara itself. The IDF confirmed that they had placed roadblocks in the area due to the recent increase in the number of stone-throwing incidents there.
According to Sami, a resident of Hawara who operates a grocery store on its main artery, the number of customers has declined by over 50 percent since the roadblocks were put in place. He said that the security forces are demanding that he close the store at 8 P.M. every evening, after someone threw stones near it. He claims that he has no connection to the stone throwing nor any idea who threw stones in the area.
Zakaria Sadah, a field worker for Rabbis for Human Rights, said that the roadblocks prevent about 90,000 Palestinians from having direct access to Hawara, and constitute a humanitarian hazard as well. “The roadblocks add dozens of kilometers to a trip. A patient from the area who has to reach a hospital in Nablus will die on the way. There’s no way to handle emergency cases now,” he said.
The head of the Hawara local council, Nasser al Hawari, added that “usually there are 10 exits from Hawara, and now only one is open. They have blockaded Hawara, so that people can’t earn a living. They didn’t tell us for how long. Why don’t they stop the stone throwing, if there is any? They used to do that. Why punish all the villages in the area for an act of isolated individuals?”
The IDF spokesman said in response that “due to an increase in stone throwing from passing vehicles at the passersby on the Hawara road in recent months, it was decided to place roadblocks on certain arteries in order to prevent the escape of attackers and to foil terror in the area.”