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VIDEO: Israeli soldiers close key checkpoint in Hebron

31st December | International Solidarity Movement, Khalil team | Hebron, Occupied Palestine

At approximately 14:30 yesterday afternoon, ISM activists approaching Checkpoint 56 from both directions found that it was closed and Palestinians were stuck on either side. Israeli soldiers gave conflicting excuses for closing the checkpoint, none of which were supported by any apparent evidence.

On the H2 (Israeli controlled) side of the checkpoint, ISM members were told that a youth had thrown a Molotov cocktail from the H1 (Palestinian Authority controlled) side. On the H1 side, a soldier shouted down to an activist: “Hey! You speak English? Tell the people we cannot open the checkpoint because the people on the other side are throwing stones!”

However, there were no stones on either side, nor were there broken glass or large patches of liquid on the ground as would be seen from a Molotov cocktail. A survey of the area showed nothing at all out of the ordinary.

This did not stop the soldiers from behaving in a crude manner, as shown in the video below. Palestinian human rights activist Issa Amro asked the soldiers why the people below, who were causing no problems, couldn’t pass.  The soldier in the observation box shouted, “I hate you! F*** you! I’m gonna eat you!” The soldiers also launched a sound grenade, also without any apparent reason. When asked by an ISM activist why they would not open the checkpoint, the soldier simply referred to his commander.

Checkpoint 56 not only separates H1 and H2, but separates many Palestinians from their homes and workplaces. Hundreds of people, including children, pass through the checkpoint every week and are subject to random searches and detentions, which disrupt their day-to-day activities. Checkpoint closures like this are one more form of harassment people have become accustomed to because they can happen at any time.