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Israel’s ‘lenient’ Ramadan checkpoint policy in action

Harassment of Palestinians at Asira al Shamalia checkpoint, Nablus

On Saturday 27 September International activists witnessed a number of Israeli soldiers and jeeps checking Palestinian vehicles at Asira al Shamalia checkpoint, creating large tailbacks at 17:30 in the run up to Ifta (the breaking of the day long fast during the Holy month of Ramadan).

Checkpoint Asira al Shamalia is the access point from Nablus city to the surrounding villages in the north and is normally an open checkpoint with a watch tower for the army to observe. Many Palestinians working in Nablus use this road to return to their villages in the North. The Israeli army has stated in public that they “are implementing a more lenient policy at checkpoints as part of the military’s effort to ease restrictions on the Palestinian population during the month of Ramadan”.

International activists passed through the checkpoint at 3pm and vehicles were passing through swiftly, however, when large queues in both directions were evident when they returned at 17:30. Witnesses report that after Ifta searches of cars and identifications ceased and vehicles were allowed to pass freely. This directly contradicts the Israeli army’s claim that checks around the West Bank have been eased during Ramadan. The use of checkpoints as a form of punishment and oppression is evident throughout the West Bank with unexplained flying checkpoints and closures common place.