Thursday, October 16, around 150 residents of the village of Al-Mazra’a ash Sharqiya, joined by Israeli and international activists, gathered in an effort to remove four roadblocks from a road connecting the village of Al Mazra’a ash Sharqiya to Route 60.
At eleven in the morning, cars from the center of town drove towards the congested road. The demonstrators physically removed numerous big stones blockading the access road. They proceeded to the last block, closest to Route 60, and continued their work. Around noon, an Israeli army jeep arrived and attempted to halt the work of the residents. Soon after, three more army jeeps alongside two police jeeps showed up at the scene. Several activists and members of the village tried to negotiate the peaceful removal of the barriers, but the soldiers refused.
While the activists remained close to the soldiers, hoping to block them, Palestinians worked hard to finish clearing the road. With the help of a tractor, the road was cleared. Two cars drove from the top of the hill towards Route 60 as a symbol of the day’s success, but were prevented by the Israeli soldiers. The entire event remained completely non-violent and those gathered to restore the road marched back to the village around two in the afternoon. After leaving, the Israeli army brought in a bulldozer and reformed two blockades.
This road is essential in connecting Al Mazra’a ash Sharqiya and the neighboring villages of Silwad, Deir Jarir, Rammun, and At Tayba to a more efficient path via route 60 into Nablus. According to the 2007 Census of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, an estimated 19,385 residents of the villages that are likely to use this road, Al Mazra’a ash Sharqiya (4,495 residents), Silwad (6,123 residents), Deir Jarir (3,986 residents), Rammun (2,626 residents) and At Tayba (2,155 residents) have been prevented access since the 2nd Intifada. The residents must instead drive south closer to Ramallah to get unto route 60. However, the residents’ drive to Ramallah is also hindered by their inability to use this road. According to the Applied Research Institute in Jerusalem (ARIJ) and the Land Research Center (LRC), the blocked road lengthens the drive between Al Mazra’a ash Sharqiya and Ramallah from 22 kilometers to 40 kilometers.
Given the importance of this road in connecting the surrounding villages to the key commercial areas of Ramallah and Nablus, those participating in removing the blockades today hope to repeat the action until the road is permanently open.