UN says more roadblocks were installed by Israel in the West Bank

The United Nations stated in a press release on Friday that Israel increased the number of roadblocks in the Palestinian territories since September last year although it officially pledged to reduce them. The United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that since September 2007  until April  this year the Israeli army installed 41 additional roadblocks, and that the total number of roadblocks is now 607 while the number was 566 in September last year.

 The UN report indicated that Israel erected 144 new checkpoints and removed 103.

The UN added that these roadblocks are restricting the mobility of the Palestinian people and goods and that even UN staff living in the West Bank are affected by these roadblocks as they hinder them from entering Jerusalem.

In spite of Israeli allegations of easing restrictions imposed on the Palestinians, closures, repeated invasions, and roadblocks in addition to the Annexation Wall continue to obstruct the freedom of movement of the Palestinian people and even bar them from reaching the farmlands.

When The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, visited the region recently, Israel vowed to remove 50 roadblocks in the occupied West Bank.

The International Community uttered repeated calls on Israel to ease the restrictions on movement as part of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.

Israel claimed that it removed 61 roadblocks but the OCHA said that the army only removed 44 roadblocks.

These numbers do not include the temporary roadblocks which the soldiers install frequently on Palestinian roads and remove them later on before they install them again in other areas.

The UN report comes shortly after the French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, slammed Israel for the large number of roadblocks in the occupied West Bank. He stated that these roadblocks are impeding any Palestinian economic development.

The statements of Kouchner came during the Palestinian Investment Conference in the West Bank City of Bethlehem. He stated that Israel is still restricting the movement of the Palestinians and added that Israel must “practice more efforts to ease the restrictions without endangering its security”.

 Israel claims that it cannot speed the easing on restrictions of movement “because Palestinian fighters are still posing threats”. Yet, the vast majority of the roadblocks are isolating Palestinian cities, villages and refugee camps from each other and are not even close to the Green Line which separates between the West Bank and Israel.

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Saed Bannoura

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