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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
28 February 2006
As the Barrier nears completion around Jerusalem, recent Israeli military orders further restrict West Bank Palestinian pedestrian and vehicle access into Jerusalem.
These orders integrate the Barrier crossing regime into the closure system and limit West Bank Palestinian traffic into Jerusalem to four Barrier crossings (see map below)
Qalandiya from the north, Gilo from the south
, Shu’fat camp from the east and Ras Abu Sbeitan (Olive) for pedestrian residents of Abu Dis, and Al ‘Eizariya.
Currently, there are 12 routes and crossings to enter Jerusalem from the West Bank including the four in the Barrier (see detailed map attached). The eight other routes and crossing points into Jerusalem, now closed to West Bank Palestinians, will remain open to residents of Israel including those living in settlements, persons of Jewish descent entitled to the Israeli Law of Return, and non-Israelis with valid visas (see table page 2).
Israel maintains that “the sole purpose of the Security Fence, as stated in the Israeli Government decision of July 23
2001, is … security … [and] Israel’s response to suicide bombers who enter into Israel”.
This new restriction deepens existing concerns regarding Palestinian access and movement between Jerusalem and West Bank Palestinian communities. Approximately 60,000 Palestinians cross through the checkpoints daily – to and from their destinations. Already the Barrier has had a profound impact on Palestinian lives.
Neighbourhoods are separated from each other, education, medical and economic ties have been fractured. The closures, the permit regimes, the gate crossings together with the completion of the Barrier restrict West Bank residents from entering Jerusalem to such an extent that the city is becoming largely isolated from Palestinian communities in the West Bank.
Additional commuting times and hardships:
The four crossings for West Bank Palestinians – from the south and east – will increase travel time and costs. The crossings consist of large structures with extensive security checks. Drivers must stop and exit their vehicles at least once. Pedestrians must undergo long security checks – computer registration of ID cards, passing through automated turnstiles, metal detectors. These will add to commuting time and particularly impact the elderly, school children and women traveling with young children. The eight other crossings are less time-consuming - drivers and their passengers generally drive through a checkpoint encountering only random ID checks.
Reduced access to religious sites:
The ability of the Muslim and Christian communities in the West Bank to freely access holy sites in Jerusalem is an additional concern. With these orders, for example, all three major routes between Jerusalem and Bethlehem (Tunnel road, original Road 60 (Gilo) and Ein Yalow) will be blocked for Palestinian use.
Christian and Muslim residents of Bethlehem and the surrounding villages will in the future access Jerusalem through one barrier crossing and only if a permit has been obtained from the Israeli Civil Administration.
It is unclear whether one crossing is sufficient to handle the vehicle and pedestrian traffic of the thousands of worshippers needing to reach holy sites in Jerusalem each week from the South and on major Christian and Muslim holidays. Worshipers traveling from the north of the West Bank face similar access issues and delays when trying to obtain permits and subsequently crossing through Qalandiya checkpoint.
Order Regarding Closed Territories (Judea and Samaria) (Amendment No. 3) (No. 1576) 2005; Order Regarding Closed Territories (Judea and Samaria) (No. 34) 1967, Notice Regarding Establishing Passage Points - 2006, Order Regarding Closed Territories (Judea and Samaria) (No. 34) 1967, Notice Regarding Establishing Passage Points - 2006, (Amendment No. 1) 2006.
The Mazmoria Barrier crossing, once completed, will replace the Gilo crossing for all Palestinian traffic from the south into Jerusalem.
West Bank Palestinians who work for international organisations and have valid permits issued by the Israelis are still allowed to use 2 additional crossings – the Tunnels and Hizma checkpoints. The Beitunya crossing will remain limited to Palestinian commercial vehicles only.
Israeli Seam Zone Authority
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