On Friday 23rd May, approximately 100 Palestinians from the village of Shufa and Tulkarem city, along with international activists, demonstrated against the closure of Shufa’s main road.
In a silent protest against the presence of four road-blocks along the 1km stretch of road, the protesters held banners and signs to indicate the suffering endured due to the denial of freedom of movement of the villagers. The road, which in the past functioned as the main entrance to the village, has been closed by Israeli authorities for six years; while it is available to Israeli settlers from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Avne Hefez.
Approximately eight Isreali military jeeps, with around thirty Israeli soldiers, responded to the protesters threateningly, aiming their machine guns at the demonstrators, in an attempt to force the protest back, but protesters held their ground.
Success came when the Israeli District Coordination Office (DCO) promised Palestinian officials that the issue of the roadblocks will be negotiated with the Shufa village council over the following two days if protesters agreed to move back. Protesters refused to move before the Israeli soldiers did so, and remained seated on the road for approximately 90 minutes until the soldiers left.
While Israeli officials have still committed to review the roadblocks, the Shufa village council announced they will continue to demonstrate at the roadblocks weekly, and then possibly daily, until the roadblocks are removed.
The roadblocks divide the village of Shufa into two parts, forcing residents to travel from one part to the other only on foot or by donkey; and also extends the ten minute journey from Shufa to Tulkarem city into a 30 kilometre ordeal, taking over an hour by car, and forcing residents to pass through the An Abta checkpoint.