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Palestinian Civil Affairs: Several entrances reopened in Hebron district

July 27, 2016 5:32 P.M. (Updated: July 27, 2016 8:24 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian General Authority for Civil Affairs announced that the northern and southern entrances of the city of Hebron would be reopened on Wednesday afternoon, including entrances to the villages of Bani Naim and Beit Awwa, following a month-long closure of the occupied West Bank district of Hebron.

The head of the Civil Affairs' public relations department said that the entrances would be reopened as a result of efforts undertaken by the General Authority.

An Israeli army spokesperson did not have immediate information on the developments in Hebron and told Ma’an she would look into reports.

Hebron was put under a complete Israeli military closure at the start of this month following a series of attacks on Israeli settlers and military personnel, including completely sealing off the villages of Sair, Bani Naim, and Yatta from the rest of the district.

The closures that were imposed across Hebron have amounted to the most extensive lockdown on the occupied West Bank since 2014, disrupting the access of hundreds of thousands of residents to services and livelihoods, according to the UN.

The announcement of a partial lifting on the closures came just a day after an Israeli overnight raid killed a Palestinian man and injured five others in the village of Surif in Hebron when Israeli soldiers bombarded and destroyed a house the man was barricaded in. According to the Israeli army, the man was responsible for the deadly drive-by shooting at the start of the month which prompted the full-scale military closure of Hebron.

UNRWA, the UN agency tasked with providing humanitarian services to Palestinian refugees, slammed Israel’s blockade on Hebron in a statement released Monday, saying that the closures created a deep concern for residents of Hebron's al-Fawwar refugee camp, which has also been sealed by Israeli forces for nearly a month, affecting approximately 9,500 Palestinian refugees.

“UNRWA calls upon the Israeli authorities to put an end to the closures in the West Bank and to ensure unimpeded access for UNRWA staff and humanitarian assistance across the West Bank, thereby also safeguarding UNRWA’s humanitarian space,” the statement continued.

Other rights groups have also condemned Israel’s closures in the West Bank, highlighting that the blockades on Palestinian towns were one of numerous Israeli policies amounting to “collective punishment” by imposing punitive measures on the whole of the Palestinian population following attacks against Israeli settlers and military.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein said in June that “the measures taken against the broader population punish not the perpetrators of the crime, but tens -- maybe hundreds -- of thousands of innocent Palestinians.”
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