Israel removes 2 road blocks near Nablus

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Nablus Gov. Jibreen Al-Bakri said in a press statement that Israel informed the Palestinian Authority (PA) that it will remove the Hewara and Beit Foureek checkpoints on early on Thursday.

Al-Bakri added that the two checkpoints are located to the south and east of Nablus city.

Israel erected the two checkpoints at the start of Second intifada in 2000. Hundreds of Palestinians were killed, wounded, arrested or humiliated by Israeli soldiers manning the checkpoints.

The governor added that Israel informed the PA that it would also ease restrictions at the Za'tarah checkpoint, also to the south of Nablus. He added that the removal of two checkpoints "will ease the movement of Palestinian citizens and will bring boom to the governorates' economy."

Al-Bakri expressed his hope that the Israeli authorities remove the Bekaot checkpoint (Al-Hamra checkpoint), to the east of Nablus. Israeli security sources said that the removal of the two checkpoints is part of a package of confidence-building measures that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented international Quartet envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair during their meeting Friday.

The PA rejected the Israeli offer saying they "are only ploys of Netanyahu to cover the continuation of settlement construction." The Nablus area, which includes the city, 3 refugee camps and 15 villages, contains over 200,000 residents.

It has been under tight siege for 8 years. Entry and exit was possible only via the checkpoints that surround it. Crossing the checkpoints entails stringent checks of persons, vehicles and goods in both directions.

The PA controls the West Bank, but people moving between the territory's areas are required to pass through Israeli checkpoints, especially when entering C areas where Israel has security and administrative authority. The PA-controlled A and B areas make up nearly 38 percent of the West Bank.