UN report has revealed that 5,600 Palestinian residents of occupied West Bank city of Al-Khali must cross Israeli checkpoints on foot to reach their homes.
The, report, which was issued on Wednesday by the UN OCHA, is a study of so-called H2, an area of direct Israeli control constituting 20 per cent of the occupied Palestinian city. The study looked at the impact on local Palestinians of the Israeli military and settler presence.
Around 33,000 Palestinians live in Al-Khalil’s H2 area, as well as a few hundred illegal Israeli settlers, who are being protected by thousands of Israeli occupation forces.
“The centre of Hebron (Al-Khalil) has been physically separated from the rest of the city through the deployment of physical obstacles, among other means,” UN OCHA noted, adding that “currently there are 121 such obstacles, including 21 permanently-staffed checkpoints.”
According to the findings of the survey, “some 5,600 Palestinians in the affected areas must cross a checkpoint on foot to reach their homes, including virtually all those residing in the prohibited area and two thirds of the population in the restricted area.”
In the last quarter of 2015, after a number of Palestinians attacked or attempted to attack soldiers and settlers, Israeli occupation authorities “declared an area encompassing four of the five settlement compounds as a ‘closed military zone’, where only those Palestinians registered as residents of this area are allowed to enter.”
“Since end-2015, six of the checkpoints controlling access to both these areas have been fortified with towers, turnstiles, revolving doors and metal detectors,” UN OCHA reported.
“Palestinians crossing some of these checkpoints are photographed, and cameras for face recognition have been introduced to control movement,” the survey found.
The survey documents the “pervasive impact” of the access restrictions “on all aspects of life” in the affected areas, an impact particularly felt by “persons with disabilities (PwD), the elderly and parents with young children, who often must walk hundreds of metres, and undergo checkpoint searches, before they can leave the area.”
The survey’s findings indicate that 75 per cent of the households in the affected areas have been searched by Israeli forces at least once since October 2015; in 97 per cent of the cases, the searches involved “intimidation and threats,” and a third reported physical assault.
One in every five families, meanwhile “reported that they have a child who was arrested at least once since October 2015.”
In addition, nearly 70 per cent of the respondents “reported that at least one member of their household has experienced an incident of settler violence or harassment since October 2015.”