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Israel partially opens Ramallah checkpoint after 2 weeks of closure

Nov. 14, 2016 6:15 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 14, 2016 9:47 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities on Monday partially reopened the Beit El checkpoint, which connects the eastern Ramallah district with the central occupied West Bank cities of Ramallah and al-Bireh, after almost two weeks of closure, according to Palestinian officials.

The checkpoint, which is located near the illegal Israeli Beit El settlement, had been closed since Nov. 1 after Israeli soldiers shot and killed 25-year-old Palestinian policeman Muhammad Turkman, who committed a shooting attack at the checkpoint injuring three soldiers.

Only holders of VIP cards, which the Israeli Civil Administration issues to Palestinian Authority (PA) officials and businessmen as well as foreign diplomats, will be allowed to leave Ramallah through the checkpoint, while ordinary citizens in private vehicles will be allowed to enter the city through the checkpoint, according to Palestinian liaison officials. Taxis and trucks will not be able to pass in either direction.

The Ramallah district was the site of widespread closures and clashes last week, 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 had 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 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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