08/07/2007, 00.00
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West Bank: Israeli controls constitute “collective punishment” of Palestinians

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem makes the claim in a recent report. Checkpoints and limits on movement exceed actual security needs and may have other objectives. The current situation prevents Palestinians from going to work or access health services within reasonable time and does not help law enforcement in the area.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – In a report released today Jerusalem-based B’Tselem accuses the Israeli government of maintaining tens of useless checkpoints and restricting movements in the West Bank that have serious repercussions on the daily lives of Palestinians amounting to “collective punishment.”

According to the report Israel does have the right to protect its citizens from attacks by Palestinian militants, but the existing 47 checkpoints and other measures exceed current security needs.

“While some restrictions on movement were originally imposed in response to a specific security threat, today they primarily serve other objectives, among them the creation of a road network that is rapid, convenient and relatively «sterile» of Palestinians for the use of settlers and other Israelis travelling in the West Bank,” it said.

B’Tselem said checkpoints, the permanent closure of many roads and a ban on vehicles without special permits on main roads all hinder Palestinians from reaching essential health services and their daily workplaces and are an obstacle to Mr Abbas’ attempts to maintain law and order in the West Bank, after losing Gaza to an armed uprising by Hamas.

“The restrictions impair family and social ties,” it added. “It is also clear that the restrictions result in what is effectively collective punishment.”

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