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Israel reopens closed road east of Hebron as violence subsides

April 13, 2016 11:22 A.M. (Updated: April 13, 2016 10:52 P.M.)
Israeli soldiers man a checkpoint in the West Bank city of Hebron on Sunday, June 15, 2014. (AFP/Menahem Kahana, File)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Tuesday reopened a road closed in Hebron district last month in the latest indication that months of unrest that have shaken the occupied Palestinian territory are drawing to a close.

Late on Tuesday, Israeli soldiers removed concrete blocks that had sealed the Jabal Jalis road, which connects the Hebron village of Bani Naim with a major bypass highway and enables crucial access to the city of Hebron.

The road was sealed on March 14 after two alleged attacks on Israeli forces left four soldiers wounded. The attacks were carried out by three Palestinians -- two from Hebron and one from Bani Naim -- all of whom were shot dead on site.

Sources in the Palestinian liaison department told Ma'an the road was opened after they made a formal request to their Israeli counterparts.

Israel's Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories confirmed the road had been opened, saying in a statement: "We will continue with procedures that help life go on naturally as long as things are quiet."

Since last October, the southern West Bank district of Hebron has been one of the key focal points of a wave of unrest, with dozens of Palestinians shot dead after allegedly attacking Israeli soldiers or during clashes.

The Israeli army has responded to the unrest with severe movement restrictions, including dozens of checkpoints and road closures, that Israeli rights group B'Tselem has described as "draconian."

Across the occupied Palestinian territory, more than 200 Palestinians and nearly 30 Israelis have been left dead following six months of violence.

Israel has sought to blame the unrest on religious incitement through social media, whereas Palestinians have pointed to Israel's nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory, no prospect of a political solution, and a deep sense of frustration and despair.

But in recent weeks, levels of violence have dropped sharply, and there have been no new deaths in more than two weeks.

The Israeli leadership has suggested its severe security measures are responsible for the emerging trend, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying on Sunday that "it has been achieved up to now as a result of the government's strong, responsible and methodical policy."

However, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found in a poll last month that support for stabbing attacks had seen a decline in the West Bank in recent months -- "due, it seems, to a rising perception in its inefficacy."
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