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Israel army blocks off refugee camp entrance for days as ‘collective punishment’

Without giving any official explanation, Israeli forces blocked off the main entrance to Al-Fawwar refugee camp south of Hebron

Israeli occupation forces have blocked off the main entrance to Al-Fawwar refugee camp south of Hebron to car traffic for days, with “no official explanation” given for the harsh measure.

According to Israeli rights group B’Tselem, the closure was implemented at around 5pm on Monday, blocking access from the camp to Road 60.

The military sealed the entrance by closing the metal gate it installed there during the Second Intifada, and the soldiers posted at the site told local residents that the gate had been closed as punishment for the theft of a security camera but provided no further details.

B’Tselem noted that “in early January 2018, the military closed the gate for five consecutive days and has since closed it for short durations on several different occasions. In July 2016, the military closed the gate for a month.”

According to the NGO, “the impact of the gate’s closure goes beyond Al-Fawwar itself, affecting tens of thousands of people who live in nearby villages and in the western part of the town of Yatta.”

Read: Israel demolishes Palestinian homes in Hebron

Meanwhile, the blockage is “particularly disruptive” for Palestinians in Hadab Al-Fawwar, south of the camp, in Ar-Rihiya, east of the camp, and for residents of western Yatta, “as they must take alternative routes that increase travel times and distances”.

B’Tselem concludes that “the travel restrictions imposed by the military on residents of the camp constitute collective punishment, which is prohibited under international law.”

“Such measures primarily hurt disempowered groups and disrupt the lives of residents of the camp and of nearby communities,” it adds. “This is yet another example of life under the occupation and the military’s arbitrary use of its power and authority.”

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