The movement of residents in Ras Al-Wad, southwest of Bethlehem, has been sealed off for weeks by Israeli military forces, locals said Wednesday.A resident said that forces closed off the main entrance to the small village with large mounds of dirt around three weeks ago, and that the road has remained closed ever since.
The road was used by residents in Ras al-Wad to access a main highway nearby, according to Ma’an News Agency. While they have been able to find an alternate route — a one-way dirt road that connects to the nearby village of Beit Sahour — access to the highway is severely limited, locals said.
“They just don’t want Arabs accessing the highway,” a Ras al-Wad resident said.
An Israeli army spokesperson did not have immediate information on the closure of Ras al-Wad, but in the past has said that Palestinian towns and roads were sealed in accordance with “security measures” taken in the area.
The isolation faced by Ras al-Wad residents has taken place in Palestinian areas throughout the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem that have been cut off in recent months.
Following attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals, on Israeli military and civilians that began in October and have continued into December, the military has been sealing villages and cities in the area around the attack or hometown of attacker.
In the West Bank, where Palestinian movement is already placed under a myriad of Israeli restrictions, the recent closures have had wide-scale repercussions in what rights groups have termed ‘collective punishment’.
The military never warned residents of Ras al-Wad or gave reason for the closure, while locals say they have no idea how long the dirt mounds will remain in place.
While Palestinians in other areas have removed dirt mounds shortly after their placement, locals said that Ras al-Wad residents have yet to remove them.
Ras al-Wad is a relatively quiet village, where residents say they generally avoid confrontation with the military.
“They’re not confrontational and they’re not political,” another resident said. “They would just rather try to live their lives than deal with any trouble.
“No one from the village has gone to move the dirt mounds. Everyone here just turned their head and found alternate routes.”