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Soldiers Make Residents Pay to Pass Checkpoint

by W.B.

Asira Al Shamaliyeh, a town of about 12,000 located a few kilometers north of the mountains from Nablus, has come to suffer under a new aspect of occupation. Asira has in recent months been effectively cut off from Nablus by increasing restrictions at the Sabatosh checkpoint. In addition to the weekly incursions by the occupation forces located in the mountains next to the town, which Israel claims are of the highest security importance, soldiers at the checkpoint are now distributing a form of personal abuse to the Palestinians attempting to pass.

Villagers, most of whom can only cross the checkpoint by taxi or service (shared taxi), are being turned away unless they make personal purchases for the soldiers at the checkpoint. Demands for hummous, cigarettes, cola, candy, and the like are made by soldiers under threat of restriction of movement. Furthermore, the soldiers are demanding the drivers pay for the purchases themselves, with a false promise of reimbursement when they return to the checkpoint. This humiliating behavior is enforced on the drivers whose livelihood depends on fares between Asira and Nablus, often taking their profits for the day. Soldiers even selfishly take food, drinks, and candy bought by Palestinians while in Nablus for their families back in Asira.

This stealing and lying from the soldiers continues as another humiliating form of daily harrassment in the Nablus region.