The IDF prevented Palestinians from joining a protest against the planned Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank in the Jordan Valley Saturday night, and blocked main roads leading to the area.
The protest was held in the village of Bardala and the army denied entrance to the village. At the Hamra and Tayasir checkpoints – the two checkpoints that allow passage between the West Bank and Jordan valley – soldiers blocked entry to anyone who is not a Jordan Valley resident.
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The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said the roadblocks were part of preparations for “protests that turn into violent riots and friction with residents of Bardala and Tubas.” It added that “entry is permitted to resident only, upon presentation of an identity card, in order to ensure the security of the population, continued normality and preventing friction. The roads will be reopened when the protest ends."
Another protest against annexation was held Saturday night by Palestinian and Israeli activists, organized by the Combatants for Peace organization at the Almog junction, north of the Dead Sea. At least one person was arrested.
The Palestinian Authority participated in the event, and Jericho Governor Jihad Abu Al-Asal gave a speech, saying “Annexation is like adding fuel to the fire. It’s against the interests of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples. Peace is the only real interest of both peoples. The extremist right is not interested in the good of either the Israeli people or the Palestinian people; they only want control and to remain in power. They don’t care about people dying on both sides.”
Saturday's incident marks the second time this week that the IDF prevented Palestinians from getting to protests. On Monday the army placed temporary checkpoints at the entrance to Jericho while thousands attended a PA-led protest against annexation. The IDF said it decided not to permit their entry "following security assessments."
In attendance were PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, UN Middle East Envoy Nickolay Mladenov, and foreign diplomats, including the ambassadors of the European Union, China, Russia, Jordan and other Arab states. Nickolay Mladenov said at the protest that the international community opposed any unilateral steps.
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“The United Nations believes, and I believe I can speak on behalf of the international community represented here, that annexation is against international law. It may kill the very idea that peace and statehood for the Palestinian people can be achieved through negotiations,” Mladenov said.
Eight Palestinians were injured in confrontations between soldiers and protesters on Monday near the Tamra checkpoint, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.