Israel is besieging the West Bank as it decimates Gaza – Mondoweiss


While the genocidal war committed by the Israeli colonial state continues in Gaza with the most advanced American weapons and complicity of the West, in the West Bank, the Israeli occupation has us completely under siege.

The occupation has closed the exits and entrances to all cities in the West Bank and erected more barriers and cement cubes blocking passage between them. These cities have also been isolated from some of their surrounding villages and towns. In Hebron, where I am, three additional checkpoints have been added at the city’s northern entrance, and they are opened and closed without notice, and no one knows when they can travel.

This has affected the movement of goods entering the city and other areas, which led to a significant increase in the cost of all food products. This is also the case in all West Bank cities.

Imad Abu Shamsiya, one of the Palestinian residents who lives near the Tel Rumeida settlement in central Hebron, says that our conditions have become very difficult and dangerous:

We have not been allowed to leave our homes except for a very few hours since last Saturday, October 7, and we do not know whether entry or exit is permitted because there is no general notice. Suddenly, today, Saturday, it was only opened for half an hour, and what can we do within half an hour? Also, I received threatening messages against me because in 2016, I had filmed the deliberate killing of a young Palestinian man in cold blood by an Israeli soldier, so they’re are still threatening me with death.

The situation has become catastrophic for the families who live in the heart of Hebron, which has been besieged and closed by Israeli military orders for many years, and where these families have been turned into hostages inside their homes.

The Tel Rumeida area is known as a flashpoint due to repeated attacks by Israeli occupation soldiers and settlers against Palestinian families there. It is where you can find Shuhada Street, the street that used to be a central thoroughfare that connected northern Hebron to the southern part, but it has become completely closed off to Palestinians by the Israeli army and settlers and has long been considered emblematic of Israeli apartheid.

Haj Mufid Al-Sharbati lives there with his family and his brother’s family in front of the Jewish settlement of Beit Hadassah. They say that the situation is not only difficult but very terrifying. He tells me that they are forbidden from leaving our house and are only allowed to leave for a short time when they are allowed to leave. On Saturday, when they were allowed to leave, Al-Sharbati’s son and my daughter’s son-in-law were attacked. “As they headed to Tel Rumeida, our lives were in constant danger, and no one was protecting us,” he tells me.

Aref Jaber, who lives in the Jaber neighborhood near the largest Israeli settlement in the area, Kiryat Arba, tells me, “We live a life in which it is forbidden for us to move around, and no one leaves the house except for the utmost necessity.” Kayed, another resident of the Jaber neighborhood, told me his family has not left their house since last Saturday. “We have not seen international institutions such as the Red Cross that usually visit us,” he explained to me, “and my brother Ayman needs physical therapy massages because he suffered a stroke.” 

As for Jamal Abu Saifan, who also lives right next to the Kiryat Arba colony, tells me his family lives in very difficult conditions and does not leave their homes due to the complete closure of the area. They have been allowed to leave the house once, for limited hours, since last Saturday. He also told me that he has relatives in Gaza who were martyred as a result of the bombing, as Abu Saifan’s family are originally refugees from historic Palestine, which was occupied in 1948. Currently, his family is spread across different areas in Palestine, including the Gaza Strip.

Umm, Muhammad Salaymeh, whose family lives in the Al-Salaymeh neighborhood near the Ibrahimi Mosque, where one of her sons is injured due to the recent events and aggression against Gaza, says the situation is difficult, and no one can move from their homes, “The military checkpoints are all closed, and my son needs to see a doctor, and we cannot leave the house even though… My son screams in pain,” she says. 

I recently tried to take some foreign journalists to visit families in Tel Rumeida and Shuhada Street. The occupation soldiers would not allow them to enter the Shuhada Street military checkpoint and drew weapons on them, threatening to shoot at them if they did not leave the place. When we tried another checkpoint near my home above Tel Rumeida, that gate was closed as well, and the Israeli occupation soldiers at the checkpoint waved their hands for us to leave.

At the end of our day, I left them as they drove off to go to Jerusalem. About 15 minutes later, the journalists called me to tell me that the Israeli occupation soldiers had closed one of the newly erected gates between Hebron and the town of Halhul, and they had to return to spend the night in Hebron. 

They were surprised that the new gate, which they had just passed a few minutes earlier, was now closed, and they asked me what alternate route they should take to return to Hebron. I told them the occupation had closed all the usual roads and added at least three new checkpoints. All Palestinian cities have been turned into prisons and cages, isolated from each other. We are under siege.

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