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Ramadan Realities: West Bank Violence Peaks With Its Start

Ramadan is a holy and significant month in which Palestinian families come together, with greater expenses and more frequent visits to the Al Aqsa Compound. The month of Ramadan is often a very sensitive and volatile time, as the Israeli military and police enforce extensive arrangements, leading to a greater likelihood of confrontations and violence. As Ramadan begins and everyone’s mind and hearts are focused on the situation in Gaza, there is an unfolding disaster occurring in the West Bank we would like to share with you. ACRI’s team has been tracking every incident and working tirelessly to put a stop to the violence. 

Preceding the horrors of October 7th, 2023 had already been marked by a disturbing tide of violence in the West Bank. With 509 fatalities of Palestinians in the West Bank only, nearly 5 times the number of fatalities in 2022, Palestinians have suffered enormously from violence and destruction even before the war. In more recent months, we have witnessed drastic changes in policy that deteriorated the situation for Palestinians in the West Bank involving severe restrictions on freedom of movement, revocation of work permits and tacit acceptance of settler violence.   

Following the outbreak of the war, the military has imposed severe movement restrictions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Many man-made roadblocks prevent Palestinians from accessing the main roads and urban centers placed on access roads to villages. The roadblocks isolate the villagers, violate their basic rights, and even endanger them. The severe violation of freedom of movement affects every aspect of the residents' lives: It makes it very difficult to supply food and water, impairs studies, prevents access to medical care, farmland and more. ACRI has written numerous legal correspondences, demanding the road blockages be removed, protecting Palestinian's freedom of movement and access to basic resources. We received a successful response stating there was a removal of blockages in the village of Kafr Laqif; however, we are still fighting for the removal of blockages surrounding the rest of the villages.  

Shockingly, over 200,000 Palestinians from the West Bank, approximately 20% of the Palestinian work force, that once held work permits are no longer able to work within Israel due to a new policy revoking work permits and brining in foreign labor workers instead. This poses catastrophic circumstances for Palestinians that for decades have relied on work within Israel and Area C to provide for their entire livelihood, consequently damaging the Palestinian economy and the construction and agricultural sectors in Israel.  

Palestinian residents in the H2 area of Hebron have been prohibited from leaving their homes following the outbreak of the war. Palestinian activities in the city are completely suspended; there is no trade or operating educational institutions, residents cannot go to work, receive medical treatment, or visit family members. Even obtaining food, medicine, or water has become an almost impossible task.While Palestinians are not allowed to leave at all, Jewish residents in Hebron are not subject to any restrictions. Individuals from the Jewish settlements take advantage of the forced absence of Palestinians from public spaces to seize control, damage property, break into and harm homes and shops. ACRI sent legal correspondencedemanding the removal of the curfew imposed on the Palestinian residents of Hebron, resulting in the army denying curfews and restrictions in their response. We are not discouraged; ACRI will continue to right for the rights of Palestinian residents of Hebron.  

In recent months settler violence in the West Bank has claimed lives, led to the expulsion of communities, denial of access to farmland, raids on villages, destruction of property, and confiscation of land. The Israeli security forces do not provide protection to the protected residents, sometimes even assist the attackers, and in more cases settlers who were recruited during the war to serve as the reserve force, stationed in the West Bank, exploit the authority given to them to attack the Palestinian residents in their uniforms. 

Two videos have been recently published showing Israeli soldiers using Palestinians as human shields in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Following the publications, we urgently demanded the Military General issue an immediate clarification to the forces on the ground regarding the absolute prohibition on using residents as human shields in military operations. According to the Geneva Convention, it is absolutely forbidden to use residents of occupied territory as human shields, and this absolute prohibition was also the basis of the 2005 High Court of Justice ruling that prohibited the use of Palestinians as human shields. Following our inquiry, a Military Police investigation was opened regarding one of the cases.

“The gap between what they are saying and what is happening on the ground is unbelievable,” said Roni Pelli, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. “It’s like a policy of gaslighting.” From the Washington Post article: In Israeli-occupied Hebron, Palestinians describe living in ‘a prison.’ 

The violence, expulsion, denial of access to land, and restrictions on freedom of movement along with the revocation of work permits for Palestinian laborers causes a fatal blow to Palestinian life. We insist that the Israeli government do everything in its power to abide by international law and put an end to restrictions on freedom of movement and settler violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.  

At ACRI, we have been challenged to maintain our focus and produce efforts surrounding the Gaza catastrophe, within Israel and in the West Bank. With difficult times ahead, we ask that you continue on this path with us, as we navigate safeguarding human rights for all. We wish all our readers who celebrate Ramadan Kareem and we will continue to hope and work for a holy and quiet month. 


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