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Israel has cut off the northern West Bank, Israeli human rights organization says

Feb. 19, 2008 11:29 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 19, 2008 11:29 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israel has imposed severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the northern West Bank since the Dimona bombing on February 4 that killed an Israeli woman, according to the B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Palestinian territories.

In the districts of Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarem districts all Palestinian men between the ages of 16-35 are prevented from leaving the area without special permits, which are rarely granted. Testimonies taken by B'Tselem indicated that during the past two weeks, these restrictions have also been imposed on women of this age group. In the past few days, similar restrictions have been introduced in the city of Qalqilya.

The Israeli army has erected dirt piles and boulders to block the passage of cars so they can only pass through staffed checkpoints, where the age restrictions on movement are enforced.

According to B'Tselem, these restrictions disrupt daily life for tens of thousands of people and particularly harm the wage-earning population and those in need of medical care.

"Israel has the right and the obligation to protect its population from attacks by Palestinian militants, and this includes the right to impose targeted restrictions on movement in response to concrete threats. However, even if these restrictions were initially imposed due to concrete warnings, the scope and duration of the current restrictions strongly suggest that the military is not properly balancing security needs with the welfare of the civilian population, as it is legally required to do," the organization said in a statement.

"The [Israeli] military must find less harmful measures which will enable it to respond to localized warnings in the shortest time possible while causing the least harm to the Palestinian population. Furthermore, the military must at all times enable passage of ambulances, the sick and the wounded," the statement added.

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