Settlements in South Hebron Hills to Be Blocked During Yom Kippur

So far, limitations on traffic have been in effect during Jewish holidays only for the Palestinian population.

The authorities are implementing a closure on settlements in the South Hebron Hills east of the separation fence for Yom Kippur, citing a lack of manpower to keep the road open. At the beginning of the week, the residents of the settlements of Teneh Omarim and Shama'a found out that road 60, the main artery connecting Hebron-area settlements with central Israel, will be completely blocked except for emergency vehicles.

So far, limitations on traffic have been in effect during Jewish holidays only for the Palestinian population.

The Meitar crossing in the South Hebron Hills will be minimally staffed and will therefore be closed except for emergencies, meaning that the settlers there will be cut off from the rest of the West Bank and Israel during the holiday.

According to Shlomo Dror, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry and the crossings administration: "The crossings administration views Yom Kippur as a special date in the State of Israel. Due to the security problems in the South Hebron Hills, this decision is very important. The significance of the request is that dozens of people will have to violate Yom Kippur and work on the holiday. The crossing will be open for humanitarian and security needs of the residents, and any exceptional case will be dealt with as required."

Dror added that in previous years, when the crossings were run by the Israel Defense Forces, they were also closed on Yom Kippur to "respect the people's rest."

A group of settlers asked MK Avshalom Vilan (Meretz) to intervene in the matter, and Vilan asked Defense Minister Ehud Barak to explain why the freedom of movement of the Israelis affected was different from that of other Israelis.

Vilan, a founder of "One Home," an organization promoting voluntary evacuation of settlers living east of the separation fence, said he sees the order to lock the settlers in their settlements as a serious infraction of their basic civil rights and outright discrimination between them and residents of Tel Aviv, for example.

Itai Noah, a non-Orthodox setter who has lived in Teneh Omarim for 18 years, said that if the Israeli government is unable to assure equal rights to its citizens living over the Green Line, it should immediately offer them appropriate compensation to allow them to move to within that line.

He added that this was the first year a closure was imposed on his settlement and that it was linked to the changeover of responsibility for the roadblocks from the IDF to the border crossings administration, which is run by private companies.