Palestinians face more restrictions than ever

The Israeli authorities have been ordered by the High Court to give a formal explanation of why an important highway running from Jerusalem through the occupied West Bank has been barred to Palestinians living in the area.

The Israeli High Court ruled yesterday that the state - in this instance the Israeli military - has to explain why Route 443 is in practice barred to Palestinians and why roadblocks preventing access to the road from Palestinian villages along the route have not been dismantled.

While it only concerns a single stretch of road, the petition from the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (Acri) in several respects goes to the heart of the heavy restrictions on Palestinian movement and access in much of the West Bank. This is graphically illustrated in a UN map showing road closures and territory - about 40 per cent of the West Bank- which are either barred or heavily restricted for Palestinians, severing the sectors of the West Bank from each other, and from Jerusalem.

The map highlights restrictions imposed by the barrier and road closures largely to protect Jewish settlements, and the unimpeded travel of settlers in the West Bank, resulting in what critics call the "cantonisation" of the territory into enclaves separated from each other and Jerusalem. Closures imposed since the intifada began in 2000 mean that Palestinians are probably more restricted now than at any time during the past 40 years.

The ruling follows a petition by Acri against the almost seven-year de facto ban on behalf of the 25,000 residents of six Palestinian villages near the road who are forced on to poor backways rather than the highway through the West Bank towards Ramallah, which had served them since the British mandate.

Route 443 is popular among Israeli commuters as it provides a fast connection between Jerusalem and the Israeli town of Modin and is often used as an alternative route between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Controversy intensified after the daily newspaper Ha'aretz discovered that there was no specific legal order underpinning the ban. The Ministry of Defence said at the time that the road was open to Palestinians who passed inspection at checkpoints, but this in practice applies only to drivers with special permits.

Feeder roads are invariably blocked with boulders, concrete blocks or iron gates. After Acri applied to the military for the route to be opened to Palestinians, officials in its civil administration offered the council head at one of the villages, Beit Sira, transit permits for some taxi owners there. The head of the village council, Ali Abu Tsafya insisted that the road be opened to all residents and since then there have been no further meetings.

Route 443 is unusual among West Bank main roads as it used not only by West Bank settlers but large volumes of Israeli traffic travelling through occupied territory to and from destinations in Israel proper.

The military said yesterday the barriers had been erected because of "numerous terrorist attacks" on the road and because they were security related did not require an order to be issued. The court ruling was being "evaluated" and a final position would be give to the court in two months.

Yoav Loeff, a spokesman for Acri, said yesterday that it was not ignoring security considerations but said the army had ample alternative means to enforce security without operating a blanket ban, which violated the international legal rights of the original users of the route. Residents had to use routes which were longer, sometimes dangerous, and more costly for those using taxis."It makes the movement of goods more costly so has an economic effect and it can endanger life for emergency cases who may take an hour to get to hospital instead of 15 minutes," he said.

"We do not use the word apartheid in court but it is difficult to find another term for roads that can be used only for Israelis." About 260,000 settlers live in the West Bank and another 190,000 Jewish residents live in occupied Arab East Jerusalem in housing built since the 1967 war. The World Bank last month largely blamed restrictions on movement of Palestinian goods and people for the devastation of the West Bank economy.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Taste the difference: Nell Frizzell tucks into a fry-up in Jesse's cafe in east London
food + drinkHow a bike accident left one woman living in a distorted world in which spices smell of old socks and muesli tastes like pork fat
Sport
Luke Shaw’s performance in the derby will be key to how his Manchester United side get on
footballIt's not a game to lose, writes Paul Scholes
Arts and Entertainment
Don’t send in the clowns: masks and make-up conceal true facial expressions, thwarting our instinct to read people’s minds through their faces, as seen in ‘It’
filmThis Halloween, we ask what makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?
News
peopleFarage challenges 'liberally biased' comedians to 'call him a narcissist'
Arts and Entertainment
Liam and Zayn of One Direction play with a chimpanzee on the set of their new video for 'Steal My Girl'
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant for Year 4

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: A Teaching Assistant is requ...

Nursery Teacher in Sherwood

£100 - £145 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: Teaching job available wor...

Senior IP Opportunity at Major Firm

vary Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - AN OPENING AT A VERY HIGH Q...

Nursery Manager

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Nursery Manager Long term Ran...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes