August 2009: The army continues to harm the freedom of movement of Palestinians in the southwest Hebron Hills
Route 3265 is a major traffic artery in the southwest Hebron hills, linking villages in the area with the city of Hebron . Over the years, it served the 45,000 Palestinians who live in the area. In recent years, settlers from the unauthorized outposts Negohot and Mitzpeh Lachish have also used the road. In 2000, Palestinians shot at a vehicle driving along the road and killed a settler from Negohot. Since 2001, the army has completely prohibited Palestinians from driving along the road and even from walking along it.
The army is obliged to ensure the safety of residents in the Occupied Territories , including settlers; however, this obligation must not be fulfilled by applying collective punishment. Prohibiting Palestinians from using the road severely infringes basic rights and the quality of life of locals, who are dependent on social and economic ties with other villages and with the city of Hebron .
Two families have been especially harmed by the closing of the road to Palestinian traffic: as the route was the sole access road to their houses, they now live in isolation and are virtually imprisoned in their houses. The only way they can reach other communities is by walking long distances through the surrounding mountains. Even then, they are frequently attacked and threatened by settlers. The video documents the reality of the Jadallah family, one of the two.
In 2006, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed a petition, on behalf of the families and the heads of the councils in the southwest Hebron hills, against the blocking of the road and of its intersection with Route 354, which connects the northern and southern parts of the area. The petitioners contend that the prohibition on movement constitutes collective punishment on basis of national-ethnic origin. Following the filing of the petition, the respondents opened the intersection to Palestinian movement, but stated that the road would remain closed. The court finished hearing the petition in January 2008 and has not yet given its decision.
Due to technical restrictions, subtitles could not be added. The translation follows:
Even in the weird reality of the occupation, some situations are particularly absurd. Every morning, the Jadallah children cross the road on which their house is built. A road on which they are forbidden to travel or walk along, and go by foot about 3 kilometers to school in the nearby village of Faqiqs, along a path full of sharp ascents and descents difficult for even good walkers. The prohibited road, Route 3265, used to take them directly to school, a maximum of two minutes from their home.
Hafez Muhammad Jadallah: This road is forbidden. The army forbids us to use it, I'm not sure why. They're afraid of problems. This road connects Beit 'Awwa, Dura, Hebron , the whole area west of Hebron. We live here. We reach it via the mountain.
The house is surrounded by mountains, and for the family, the road is the sole traffic artery. To go shopping, the brother Khaled walks with his bags over the hills about three hours. Meanwhile, the road stands empty, waiting for one of the 200 Israelis who live in the area, who are allowed to use the road.
There's nothing to do. The children hardly go out. Where can they go? To wander in the hills? Nobody comes or goes. If we have an important errand, I go out, but if not, I stay at home all day.
Samaher Jadallah: We had a car, it took us where we needed. Our own car. But since we haven't used it, its fallen apart. Now it's behind the house, a wreck. When we took the car, it used to be easy to do the shopping. But now we haul our purchases by donkey.
Do you know why they closed the road?
Security reasons, they said.
Adv. Limor Yehuda, ACRI: Several security incidents took place in the area. In December 2000, there was a shooting attack that killed an Israeli. This is a major road in the area that served dozens of villages and small towns, some 45,000 people.
In comparison, the Israelis using the road are from the unauthorized outpost Negohot and from an authorized outpost that was built next to it a few years ago - Mitzpeh Lachish. Less than 200 people, based on the known figures.
The illegality and basic wrongdoing in this case are outrageous. It is a fundamental moral and legal principle that we are forbidden to prohibit people from using a road based solely on their ethnic origin. This is certainly true when we're talking about local residents in occupied territory.
The primary duty of the IDF is to enable Palestinians to travel on this road. If it also wants Israelis to use the road, who, as we recall, are not residents of the occupied territory but were brought there by us, their safety must be ensured in ways that don't harm the local residents. This is a fundamental condition that cannot be compromised.
On 22 October 2009, the High Court of Justice accepted the residents' petition to open the road and gave the army three months to fimplement another solution.
* The video was co-produced with "HaYarkon 70 News".