Jerusalem is Military Barracks: How Israel is Strangling the West Bank

Israeli violence is escalating in the West Bank. (Photo: via Wikimedia Commons)

By Fayha Shalash – Ramallah

Scenes from the Intifada are back in many occupied West Bank cities: closed barriers, daily killings, massive night raids, and surprise attacks from Israeli settlers.

Since the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas launched the start of the ‘Al-Aqsa Flood’ operation, on Saturday, October 7, Israel has sought to impose a complete ‘security’ cordon on the West Bank, in an attempt to prevent escalations in the area. 

Strict Closure

In occupied Jerusalem, which has been a flashpoint during recent events, the Israeli police deployed its forces and personnel throughout the city. The greatest focus was in the vicinity of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Old City of Jerusalem.

Palestinian journalist Samah Dweik told the Palestine Chronicle that Jerusalem has been turned into a military barracks.

“There are checkpoints everywhere and countless soldiers. The Israeli army is positioned on every street and alley. They have placed concrete block barriers at the entrances of many Palestinian towns, villages and neighborhoods, denying residents the freedom of movement”

“The situation here is unbearable,” Dweik said. “There are closures everywhere. Israeli forces are preventing young men and women from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Old City is a no-entry area for anyone except its residents.”

Although no curfew has officially been announced, Jerusalem is witnessing a similar situation. Shops are closed and people’s movement is restricted most of the day. In the streets, there are only Israeli soldiers.

According to Dweik, Israeli mounted police units have been deployed. All of this is accompanied by continuous arrest campaigns and public harassment and abuse of young men and even women and children.

“The arrest campaigns are unreasonable. More than one hundred young men and women have been arrested and their phones confiscated in search of pictures or writings that Israel considers a form of incitement,” Dweik said. 

“Israeli forces break into Palestinian homes and destroy everything in their way in search of any evidence of incitement, and then arrest the homeowners,” she said.

West Bank on Fire

Nearly 60 Palestinians were killed within a week in the West Bank.  According to eyewitnesses, Israeli soldiers deliberately fired on Palestinians with live rounds, targeting their upper bodies with the intention of killing or inflicting serious injury.

Among the victims are ten children who have been killed during confrontations with the Israeli army. 

“Every time the soldiers kill a Palestinian, the situation becomes even more inflamed throughout the West Bank, Dweik said. “The Israeli army has deliberately isolated Palestinian cities and towns from one another.”

 The main entries to various towns and villages in the occupied West Bank have been completely blocked with massive concrete blocks preventing  Palestinians from entering that areas.

Many schools have been forced to shut down and others have been forced to reduce the length of the school day.

‘Settler Terrorism’

Last week,  settlers killed six Palestinians in the town of Qusra, south of Nablus. Israeli soldiers witnessed the entire event, and did nothing to stop the attackers.

Muhammad Judeh, a resident of the village, told The Palestine Chronicle that last Wednesday, Jewish settlers attacked a group of Palestinians and fired live rounds at them, killing four.

The next day, as the villagers were preparing for their funeral, settlers assaulted a Palestinian vehicle waiting for the victims’ bodies to arrive, leading to the murder of a father and his son.

“The scene was very horrific; we lost six residents in less than 24 hours,” Judeh stated.  “And they are still attacking the village from time to time with the support of the Israeli army,” he added. 

Settler groups are inciting against the Palestinians through private groups on social media. Palestinian journalist Abdul Rahman al-Dhamidi lives in the town of Huwwara, south of Nablus, which has been targeted by illegal Jewish settlers for months. 

Al-Dhamidi told The Palestine Chronicle that a group of settlers vandalized a Palestinian store and forced the owner to close it under the pretext of posting on Facebook about the Al-Aqsa Flood operation.

“Israeli soldiers arrested the shop owners under pressure from the settlers. Then, they brought in a military bulldozer and put dirt mounds at the shop entrances, announcing its forced closure for a period of five months,” al-Dhamidi added.

Something similar happened with the owner of a pizza restaurant in Ramallah. Jewish settlers pressured the Israeli army to close for five months and then welded its doors closed.

Meanwhile, there has been an increase in settler attacks on Palestinian homes and properties in the occupied West Bank. 

The Israeli army has not held any of these settlers accountable for their crimes. To the contrary, the army has been assisting the settlers in their relentless assault against the Palestinian people.

– Fayha’ Shalash is a Ramallah-based Palestinian journalist. She graduated from Birzeit University in 2008 and she has been working as a reporter and broadcaster ever since. Her articles appeared in several online publications. She contributed this article to The Palestine Chronicle.

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