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Palestinian merchants protest Israeli policies at Jenin-area checkpoint

May 21, 2017 1:07 P.M. (Updated: May 21, 2017 10:50 P.M.)
JENIN (Ma’an) -- A group of Palestinian merchants from Jenin protested in front of Israel’s Jalama checkpoint between Israel and the occupied West Bank on Sunday in protest of what they said were tightened Israeli procedures and harassment faced by Palestinian merchants while using the checkpoint.

Palestinian merchant Muhammad Kamil from the village of Qabatiya in Jenin said that Israeli forces have conducted “arbitrary” searches on the merchants, which have caused delays and damaged their goods, particularly food that spoiled due to the extended travel times.

He added that Israeli forces have at times questioned the merchants for long hours and have banned them from bringing “important goods” into Israel.

According to locals, the protest demanded that Israeli authorities loosen restrictions at the checkpoints and to halt the revocation of their permits into Israel, which the protesters said have been periodically revoked by Israeli authorities for arbitrary reasons.

In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for implementing Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian territory, said, "There has not been any change in the policy of the merchants crossing. In the crossings to enter Israel they enforce the hours written on the permit, the same applies to permits for trade purposes, those holding it may enter Israel starting from 7 a.m." 

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