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Israeli forces close several checkpoints, village entrances accross Ramallah district

Nov. 7, 2016 12:06 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 7, 2016 5:17 P.M.)
Atara checkpoint on Nov. 7, 2016.
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces closed several checkpoints across the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah on Monday morning, resulting in serious traffic jams and mobility impediments on morning commuters attempting to enter the city of Ramallah.

Local sources and taxi drivers told Ma'an that Israeli forces closed the northern Attara checkpoint -- a major entryway to Ramallah -- preventing rush hour traffic coming from the northern West Bank from entering the administrative center of the occupied territory.

Vehicles attempting to enter Ramallah from the area were turned around, while vehicles attempting to exit Ramallah through the checkpoint were subject to “strict inspection” before being allowed to exit.

Locals highlighted that the Israeli military post in Attara, which used to serve as a permanent checkpoint during the second Intifada, has remained unmanned for the past several years except in such instances like Monday’s closure.

Meanwhile, the Beit El checkpoint -- which connects the eastern Ramallah district with the cities of Ramallah and al-Bireh -- remained closed in both directions for a week, since Israeli forces killed a Palestinian police officer who injured three Israeli soldiers in a shooting attack at the checkpoint.

The southern entrance to Ramallah also witnessed serious traffic jams, as Israeli soldiers stopped vehicles at the Jaba checkpoint, less than two kilometers from the major Qalandiya checkpoint.

The Qalandiya checkpoint is an Israeli border crossing separating Ramallah from occupied East Jerusalem, and can be accessed only by Palestinian holders of Israeli IDs and those who have special entry permits.

The main road leading to the checkpoint also connects with the main road which Palestinian vehicles use to reach Ramallah, making traffic jams a daily occurrence.

Local sources also told Ma'an that Israeli forces closed the main entrances to the villages of Silwad and Deir Jarir, northeast of Ramallah, which had previously been closed on Friday.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into reports of the closures.

The Ramallah district has been the site of widespread closures and clashes in recent days, in the wake of two attempted attacks on Israeli soldiers in the area in the span of a week.

Clashes erupted after Israeli forces set up a checkpoint near the al-Jalazun refugee camp on Friday, following the death of 23-year-old Maen Nasser al-Din Abu Qaraa, who was killed by Israeli forces Thursday afternoon after he allegedly attempted to stab Israeli soldiers at a bus stop in eastern Ramallah.

Israeli soldiers fired tear gas bombs and stun grenades at local youth that gathered near the flying checkpoint, while the youth threw rocks at Israeli forces, injuring one soldier.

Israeli forces has also closed the Attara checkpoint north of Ramallah, and a main road near the refugee camp connecting Ramallah to Jerusalem.

Abu Qaraa was the 238th to be killed by an Israeli since the beginning of a wave of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October 2015, the vast majority of whom were shot dead by Israeli forces.

Since the unrest began, the occupied West Bank has seen an increase in arbitrary military road closures, periodic blockades of Palestinian villages, towns, checkpoints, and entire districts.

Israel’s response to alleged attacks -- both large and small -- such as punitive home demolitions, the sealing of entire villages, mass detention campaigns, and withholding the bodies of Palestinians slain while committing attacks, has been condemned by rights groups, who have said the measures amount to “collective punishment” and represent a clear violation of international law.

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