Israeli occupation forces continue to impose movement restrictions on the thousands of Palestinians who live in Hizma, a town in the central West Bank near Jerusalem.
The town has been under a tight form of blockade at the hands of the Israeli occupation authorities for almost two months.
While Israeli authorities have cited alleged stone-throwing by local youths as reason for the restrictions – which, in and of itself, is an admission of collective punishment – local mayor Samar Salahuddin believes there are other factors at play.
The closure and siege on Hizma aims mainly to hit the economy and control the town and a wide area of its land as a prelude to carrying out several projects associated with the Greater Jerusalem plan and its E1 [settlement] project
The Israelis are looking to "isolate Hizma from its surrounding area," she added, "because it is an important flank of Jerusalem and the link that connects the north of the West Bank with its south."
According to Salahuddin, the Israeli closure – especially of the town's northern entrance – has hit more than 150 local business and store owners hard, leaving them "unable to fulfil their daily and monthly financial obligations towards their workplaces and employees".
In addition, "the greatest harm has afflicted the students of schools and universities, employees and workers, who leave early for study and work on a daily and regular basis," she said.
"This closure has become a daily disturbance to them as they pass through checkpoints and concrete blocks, which were placed at the town's entrances."
"Soldiers have been deployed at all entrances to the village, and physical roadblocks have been put in place barring vehicular access," B'Tselem noted. "At various points during this time, only registered residents of the village were allowed in, and men under 40 were not allowed out."
According to the NGO, "this type of occurrence illustrates routine life under occupation and the Israeli military's arbitrary use of its power in dealing with the Palestinian population."
Meanwhile, on yesterday evening an Israeli military incursion into the town prompted clashes with local residents. Some 20 Israeli army vehicles raided the community, deploying tear gas and skunk-water. Soldiers also broke into a number of homes and occupied rooftops.