RAMALLAH: Israel’s security forces continued their siege of Jericho on Saturday for the eighth day in a row, tightening their grip on the city through checkpoints at its entrances.
Similar checkpoints can be found throughout the West Bank, where Palestinians face hours-long delays as they and their vehicles are searched by Israeli forces.
Palestinians see the checks as a form of humiliation that has less to do with security than with a desire to deter Palestinians from organizing anti-Israel protests.
Amid such draconian measures, there has been no letup in the daily atrocities committed against Palestinians by extremist Israeli settlers with no intervention from the Israeli army or police.
On Saturday, settlers beat two Palestinian brothers from Deir Jarir, east of Ramallah, and stole their vehicle.
Fathi Hamdan, head of the village council, said the settlers severely beat Basil Abu Harzan and his brother Wael as they plowed their field in Al-Shurafa. They then made off with the brothers’ vehicle.
The settlers fired bullets into the air to intimidate onlookers, he said, stressing that the attacks were part of the settlers’ aim to seize Palestinian land and turn it into pastures for their livestock.
On Friday, several settlers assaulted three brothers from Silwad as they worked in Deir Jarir, stealing their survey device and destroying their private vehicle.
On Saturday, the Israeli army arrested a young man from Silwad, east of Ramallah, after confiscating his vehicle and raiding his house.
For the 22nd day in a row, the Israeli army continued to impose military measures at the Hamra checkpoint, linking the cities of the West Bank with the central, southern, and northern Jordan Valley.
Palestinian sources reported that Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint stopped Palestinian vehicles, scoured them, and checked the passengers’ IDs, which caused significant delays in their commutes to their workplaces.
Israeli forces closed the dirt roads in the area — vital passages for farmers to reach their fields in the Jordan Valley and essential for delivering agricultural products and selling them outside the region — more than three weeks ago.
Esmat Mansour, a Palestinian expert on Israeli affairs, told Arab News that the recent Israeli military escalation in the West Bank was “surprising and unjustified” and came as part of collective punishment for what some Palestinian fighters have done in the past few weeks of violence.
Mansour said the arrests of Palestinian activists in the West Bank have the aim of weakening the Palestinian response to Israeli escalations.
Israeli forces on Saturday notified Palestinians of the removal of a residential tent in the northern Jordan Valley.
Moataz Bisharat, in charge of the settlement file in Touba governorate, said Israeli forces issued a notification about the removal of the residential tent, a solar energy unit, a bathroom, and a water tank in Khirbet Al-Deir, in the northern Jordan Valley.
In a similar context, the municipality of Hebron in the southern West Bank moved the Israeli Supreme Court to prevent the implementation of an Israeli plan to expand a settlement outpost in the heart of Hebron and link it with other outposts set up on Palestinian land in the area.
The plan includes the seizure of over 70 buildings at the main entrance to the Old City. The municipality of Hebron said the properties were managed and occupied by Palestinian citizens under legal contracts.
It added that such violations amounted to a “crime against Palestinian citizens, the municipality, and the law” and aimed to “Judaize the Old City and empty it of its original Palestinian population.”
The municipality said it would continue its legal battle to protect the Old City and its Palestinian Islamic heritage, stressing that it would “expose all Israeli attempts to falsify history.”