21. Closures restrict the movement of people and
goods. The restrictions not only apply to external movement
between the OPT and Israel, or even between the West Bank and
Gaza, but also to internal movement within the OPT.
As part of the IDF Operation "Defensive Shield", the
Israelis introduced a system of permits for movement within the
West Bank. Numerous military checkpoints were established. Many
West Bank towns became restricted military zones, with inhabitants
kept under a sustained 24-hour curfew. Such curfews mean that
people are unable to leave their homes to go to work or children
attend school. The Israeli Authorities continue to hold the OPT
in a state of either severe or partial closure.
During severe closure, the movement of pedestrians and vehicles
is restricted to Israeli military personnel, settlers and non-Palestinians.
The restrictions under partial closure are less draconian, but
nevertheless, Palestinians face delays and harassment and often
have to use indirect routes over fields or unpaved roads.
22. Closures, coupled with the separation barrier,
have fragmented the OPT into areas between which movement has
become difficult, if not impossible. Checkpoints may be manned,
permanent structures, or "flying" temporary checkpoints
in which Israeli military vehicles are used to block roads and
restrict Palestinian movement. Other obstacles to movement include
concrete blocks placed across roads, trenches dug in the ground
and mounds of rubble piled across roads to prevent vehicular access.
In July 2002 the Palestinian Ministry of Planning reported 133
permanent checkpoints in the West Bank. The "safe passage"
route which, in the post-Oslo period, allowed Palestinians to
move through Israel between the West Bank and Gaza has been closed
since October 2000.
The following information was provided to us by the UN Office
for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) for roughly
the period of our inquiry spanning 1 June 2003 to 4 November 2003:
of "closure" barriers (preventing or restricting Palestinian
access) in West Bank: