Tuesday, February 13, 2007

NEWS: Palestinian Youth barred from Ramallah, By Mohammed Mar'i

Israel Barred Palestinian Youth from Interring Ramallah

By Mohammed Mar'i*

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) for the second day barred all Palestinians under the age of 30 from the West Bank cities of Nablus and Tulkarm from passing the Israeli checkpoints on their way to Ramallah under the pretext of "security alerts". Israeli security sources pretended that Palestinians intend to carry out "terrorist attacks" in respond to the Israeli excavation at Al Aqsa Mosque.

The IOF tightened its suppressive measures exerted on Palestinians at the checkpoints that block all the entrances of Nablus. The Huwwara, Beit Eiba, Al Bathan Valley, Yitzhar, and Za'tara checkpoints which surround the city from all directions prevented university students, civil servants, and teachers under the age of 30 from passing through.

The Palestinians of same age and same area were also not allowed to pass the Atara checkpoint, north of West Bank city of Ramallah. They were forced to use bypass roads through the mountains and hills to pass the Israeli checkpoints in an attempt to reach their places of work or study.

As a good-will gesture toward the Palestinian people following the meeting between Israeli Prime Minster Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last year, Israeli Occupation forces were supposed to remove some of the roadblocks and checkpoints that surround the Palestinian cities and converting the life of Palestinians willing to leave or to inter any city in the West Bank to a real hill.

Palestinians who travel through the West Bank cities didn't notice any change in the (IOF)'s policy at the checkpoints. They have horrible experience with them. They have to wait in long lines, under the burning sun or the freezing wind, alone or with their wives and kids, sick or healthy, young or old. Many Palestinian pregnant women deliver at these roadblocks, many sick Palestinians died while waiting the Israeli soldier to let them pass to the ambulance in the other side of the checkpoint or due to heart attack. Many Palestinians were beaten in the witness of their kids. Many Palestinians were obliged to sing songs, to dance, to give the Israeli soldiers cigarettes just to BASS. And other Palestinians were obliged to drink their urine just to cross the checkpoint. Israeli good-will steps no more than a mere illusion for them .

Mohammed Samaheh, a taxi driver from Salfeet area goes to Nablus every day. He said that the rainy weather did not encourage the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) to ease their inspections, but instead, they forced passengers out of their cars into the rain for "extra screening". Khalid Saleem, an employee, travels from his hometown Jenin to Ramallah almost every day. He passes Za'tara checkpoint, south of Nablus. This checkpoint controls all Palestinians who travel from the West Bank northern cities to its center or southern ones. He said that the (IOF) serving at the checkpoint stop every car or bus, force passengers out of them into the rain or freezing wind, check their identity cards in search for wanted activists, the vehicles are checked by trained dogs in search for weapons. Ayman Adam, a student at An Najjah National University in Nablus said the same notice about Huwarra checkpoint, just south of Nablus. He goes ever day from his village Kafr el Dick, south of Nablus to the university to obtain his B.A in Business Administration. He said that "the Israeli soldiers oblige all passengers to stand in strait and long rows. They check every one, his identity card, his books' bag, and his body by electronic equipments before he allowed entering or leaving Nablus through revolving doors usually used for cows". "This is a collective punishment" he added. I can't usually attend the lectures at 8 o'clock in the morning because I arrive late. He accused the (IOF) policy as "it aims to increase ignorance in the Palestinian society". Salam Rimawee, an employee from Beit Reema village north of Ramallah, faced similar (IOF) measures at Atarah checkpoint, north of Ramallah and the only entrance for Palestinians who reside in West Bank northern cities. He said that "a unit from the Israeli Borders Police serves in the place humiliates Palestinians of who pass through this checkpoint". "The Israeli soldiers force the Palestinian drivers to stand in long rows; the soldiers don't allow any passenger to leave the car, and we have to stay for hours to pass ".

Usually, the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and right wing politicians oppose any comprehensive plan to ease restrictions on the Palestinians and prefer gradual and cautious measures toward the Palestinian population to prevent the so called Palestinian "terrorists" from taking advantage of these measures to carry out "terrorist attacks" against Israeli civilian targets in the heart of Israel .

It is well known that this usual security pretext of (IOF) has no reality on ground. The (IOF) and other Israeli security apparatus know that any supposed Palestinian "terrorist" will not seek to pass through Israeli roadblocks but he will look for bypass roads .

It is clear for all observers and even to the Israeli organization "Machsom Watch" which supervises the (IOF) checkpoints that the decision to keep or remove these roadblocks, checkpoints is political rather than for security reasons. The Israeli Politicians used the checkpoints as suppressive measures against the Palestinian people to enforce them either to accept its plans for a Palestinian state with temporary boundaries, or Olmerts "convergence" plan, or to pressure the Palestinian leadership for some Political concessions. Since two years, the (IOF) checkpoint in the Jordan Valley doesn't allow any Palestinian from outside the area to enter. This means that the Palestinian must be living there, and that must be printed on his identity card to be allowed entry. This Israeli policy is part of its plan to isolate the Jordan Valley from the surrounding Palestinian neighborhood, to build further settlements in it so as to ease its annexation to Israel. Israel will continue with its de facto policy waiting a moderate Palestinian peace partner, at this point the cantons will not be negotiable .

When he was asked: "As someone who is familiar with the conditions of the Palestinians in Gaza, do you feel empathy toward them?" Nissim Levy who served in the Israeli intelligence service "Shin Bet" for 20 years answered Israeli journalist Uri Blau in an interview published in Haaretz on Jan. 6th 2007, saying: "Let's forget our patriotism for a moment. If a boy in Be'er Sheva falls in love with a girl in Haifa, what does he do? He picks up the phone, makes a date and drives to see her. If a boy from Bethlehem falls in love with a girl from Nablus, what does he do? He has to cross checkpoints, he needs a 1,001 permits. The moment that you reach the conclusion that you have nothing to live for, you immediately find that you have something to die for ."

*Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at mmaree63@gmail.com