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Israel army 'shuts Palestinians in homes' for 'handful of Jewish worshippers'

Israeli force block roads in the West Bank on 18 September, 2019 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
Israeli force block roads in the West Bank on 18 September 2019 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli occupation forces are shutting Palestinians in their homes for a "handful of Jewish worshippers" in the occupied West Bank, reported human rights NGO B'Tselem.

Two Palestinian towns in the northern West Bank – Kifl Haris and 'Awarta – are home to "tombs that some recognize as Jewish holy sites", explained B'Tselem.

Thus, once every few months, the military blocks the villages' entrances, "sets up roadblocks within them and restricts residents' movement for an entire night in order to allow Jewish worshippers to access the sites on foot or by car".

According to the human rights organisation, "these incursions are an intolerable burden for the men, women, children and the elderly who live in the towns."

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Large numbers of Israeli occupation forces "arrive hours before the Jewish worshippers, spread out in the streets and order residents stay indoors," B'Tselem explained.

"In some cases, they throw stun grenades at residents who refuse to comply. Businesses are ordered to close for the day, incurring losses."

The worshippers, meanwhile, "arrive in buses and private cars, traveling from tomb to tomb with a tight escort…and causing a commotion". Some "bring portable toilets and food, leaving filth behind when they are gone", worshippers have "left sprayed Hebrew graffiti", and some "swear at residents as they pass through, and throw stones at homes or vandalize personal property".

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This is done "in plain view" of Israeli forces, B'Tselem noted, "who take no action against them".

According to B'Tselem, such "incursions are yet another blatant manifestation of Israel's violent policy in the West Bank, which gives the interests of Jewish citizens absolute preference over the rights of Palestinian subjects".

Even in the middle of the night, in the heart of Palestinian communities, Israel uses military might to enable its citizens to do almost as they please, completely ignoring the price paid by Palestinians.

"In this case," the NGO concluded, "the price takes the form of damage to property, compromised safety and severe disruption of daily life."

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