IDF Roadblocks Disrupting Daily Life in West Bank Village

NGO claims that two of the three entrances to Hizma have been blocked, but army insists that only one is closed.

Hizma
Wikicommons

Two of the three entrances to the Palestinian village of Hizma have been blocked by the Israel Defense Forces for the last month, even though the army insists it has only blocked one of the three.

The roadblocks have seriously disrupted the freedom of movement of the residents and are also hurting businesses in the West Bank village. Consequently, Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual has asked the Israel Defense Forces to remove the roadblocks.

In a response sent to Hamoked last week, Capt. Benny Weinstock of the army’s legal department wrote that because rocks and firebombs have been thrown from Hizma at Route 60, a major north-south artery, the army blocked one of the village’s access roads “to help the security forces deal with the attackers and their activity.”

At the other entrances, soldiers check vehicles “from time to time,” but they aren’t permanently closed, he said.

He also stressed that the rocks and firebombs endanger everyone who uses Route 60 – “the security forces and Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike.”

In reality, however, the IDF has placed concrete barriers at two of the village’s three entrances – the southern one and the eastern one. The concrete blocks don’t stop foot traffic, but they do stop vehicles.

Nevertheless, the army insists that the eastern entrance is only closed “from time to time.”

Attorney Yadin Elam of Hamoked charged that the army’s response bears no relationship to reality. In a letter sent Monday to the head of the IDF’s Central Command, Maj. Gen. Roni Numa, Elam wrote, “There’s no connection between the goal of reducing incidences of stone-throwing from the town and the chosen means – blocking two of the three entrances to the village. These blockages are meant to punish the town’s 8,000 residents, the vast majority of whom have no connection to the stone-throwing incidents.”

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit told Haaretz that Elam’s letter was received on Monday, and that the army will look into it and “respond to him directly.”