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Movements restricted for Askar refugee camp

by Eva Smith

16 September 2012 | International Solidarity Movement

The main street from Askar Refugee Camp leading to Nablus is closed off three times every week by the Israeli army as around 1,000 illegal settlers make their way to “Joseph’s Tomb.” Each time, the street is closed for up to seven hours, leaving the camp essentially under curfew, unable to leave or enter the area.

Some of the surrounding illegal Israeli settlements are visible from the edge of the Askar Refugee Camp, as well as the road that is closed off three times a week. (photo credit: Ellie Marton)

Joseph’s tomb in Nablus has been a source of controversy since its discovery, as many Palestinians assert that it is in fact the tomb of an Islamic patriarch due to its Islamic architecture.

In the camp there are three checkpoints, which are often arbitrarily closed by the Israeli military. The refugee camp, in which 6,000 people live in one kilometer space, is technically under international legislation; however, armed Israeli soldiers still patrol the road closures and have been known to arrest residents. There are one hundred and five people from Askar Camp in Israeli jails today. This includes children as well as adults.

Eva Smith is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed)