Israeli occupation forces imposed a blanket restriction on the freedom of movement for Palestinians in villages northwest of Ramallah, reported human rights organisation B’Tselem.
On 5 December 2018, “in the early morning hours, without notice”, the army closed an iron gate on Road 450, which “links villages northwest of Ramallah to the city”.
The gate remained closed for over a month and was reopened by occupation forces on 14 January, only for it then to be closed again for several hours the next day.
According to B’Tselem, “the road closure impacted tens of thousands of people who live in villages northwest of Ramallah. These include, among others, ‘Ein ‘Arik, Deir Ibzi’, Kafr Ni’ma, Ras Karkar, and Al-Janiyah, whose southeastern exit the military closed off with concrete cubes years ago.”
In addition, “the blockage also affected thousands of Palestinian laborers who have permits to work in Israel, hundreds of business people who travel to Israel daily via the Ni’lin checkpoint, and the passage of trucks between Israel and the West Bank through the checkpoint.”
Locals were thus “forced to use an alternate route”, which “made travel slower and more difficult”.
Palestinians told B’Tselem that the road closure “also impacted family and social life”, with “many family gatherings” postponed and “friends and relatives avoided visiting one another as the trip, which normally takes minutes, had been extended to anywhere between half an hour and an hour”.
“Restricting the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank is one of the main tools that Israel uses to enforce the occupation and control the Palestinian population,” B’Tselem stated.
“Of the many sweeping and arbitrary measures Israel employs, road closures have a particularly broad impact, severely disrupting the lives of many Palestinians.”
The NGO concluded that “the closure of Road 450 was unlawful and constituted deliberate collective punishment of residents whose only ‘crime’ was living nearby. It deprived thousands of Palestinians of their freedom of movement and constituted abuse of military force.”