Drivers protest Israeli-only roads in West Bank

A protester sits next to Israeli soldiers and border police officers as they block the way outside Jericho Jan. 10.

JERICHO (Ma’an) — Around 60 people from across the West Bank on Tuesday tried to drive from Jericho to Ramallah on an Israeli-only road to protest Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian movement.

Popular resistance committees organized the motorcade of around 50 cars to protest the network of roads in the West Bank designated for the exclusive use of Jewish settlers.

Committee spokesman Bashir Tamimi told Ma’an the protest aimed to send a message that the roads were built on Palestinian land and to protest settler attacks on Palestinians and holy places.

Protesters drove to the Jericho checkpoint with Palestinian flags on their cars, where they were met by dozens of Israeli soldiers who refused to let them pass.

Tamimi said forces detained five people, including a 15-year-old girl.

An Israeli military spokesman said the protesters were “behaving violently.” Asked to elaborate, the army official said they were “acting in a manner that they needed to be detained.”

Video footage taken by activists shows two people detained for peacefully protesting, and an Israeli soldier trying to confiscate a journalist’s camera (see on the site of Maan News Agency)

Around 43 percent of the West Bank is off-limits to Palestinians because Israel has allocated it to settlers. Israel has erected over 500 checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank, impeding Palestinians’ movement in order to ease travel for settlers, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says.

In 2011, five Palestinians were killed — including two children — and 1,000 injured by settlers or security forces in incidents related to the settlements, the UN agency said in a report released Tuesday.

Settlements are illegal under international law.

( / 10.01.2012)

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