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Passover Lockdown of the West Bank…

May 13, 2009

 At 11:59 on April 6th, the IDF began the general closure of the West Bank for the Jewish holiday, Passover.  This means that the Palestinians who actually have the ‘blue I.D.’, which is necessary if they want to leave the West Bank, will not be allowed to do so during this time. 

 The closure is supposed to be lifted on April 18th, but according to the IDF spokesperson, it “will be carried out in accordance with security assessments”—which means, it will reopen ‘when they feel like it’.

 This closure is part of other security measures planned by the Minister of Defense and is in addition to the unreasonably paranoid increase in security forces around Jerusalem.    

 As usual, the IDF released a familiar statement on the closure, verbatim from past years:

 “The IDF regards the holiday period as a highly sensitive time, security wise.  Accordingly, the IDF will increase its alertness in order to ensure the safety of the citizens of Israel, while preserving, to the best of its ability, the daily life of the Palestinian population.”

 However, the only people whose daily life will be preserved are the foreign journalists, NGO workers, doctors and other medical personnel, as well as religious workers and Christian pilgrims who will be largely “unaffected by the closure”.  

 The IDF also announced that there will be “free movement for Christians to Holy Sites during the Easter holiday period”.  They also took the opportunity to send mass emails to journalists, known to be working in the region, to tell them about these ‘goodwill measures’ in an attempt to get positive publicity about this discriminatory closure. 

 Muslim Palestinians will not be allowed free movement—even for work in Israel.

 This Israeli ‘lock-down’ affects thousands of Palestinians whose livelihoods depend on being able to enter Israel for work.  However, because of the closure, they will not be able to go to work for at least 12 days.  Their daily life will be interrupted by this unnecessary, arbitrary closure. 

 This closure, “for security reasons” has been called collective punishment by many Palestinians.

 Palestinians who need to go to Israel for medical care will still be allowed to cross, in theory.  However, that is dependent upon receiving a permit from Israel—which is a mostly random process of selection.

 Even the Allenby Bridge, the only crossing that connects the West Bank with the outside world (through Jordan), will be closed for at least 24 hours starting at 10am on Wednesday. 

 These extreme measures are in addition to the longstanding restrictions of movement that the Palestinians in the West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem have had to live with—including hundreds of checkpoints, road obstacles, and road closures.

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