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Restriction Movement: Army blocks access by car to Palestinian neighborhood with more than 150 residents

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The village of Khirbet a-Deir, which lies next to the village of Tuqu’, is built on both sides of Route 356 that connects Bethlehem and Hebron. On 9 February 2011, a bulldozer accompanied by two army jeeps laid dirt piles and boulders at the two entrances to the Abu Ghassan neighborhood, which is the northern section of the village, and at the entrance to the nearby village of al-Halqum, thus blocking access by car through these entrances. The action was taken without informing the residents in advance and without explanation.

Following firm exchanges between residents and representatives of the Civil Administration, the army opened the entrance to al-Halqum the same day. The entrances to the Abu Ghassan neighborhood remain closed. As a result, 150 people have been left with no ability to access their neighborhood by car.

Taysir Abu Mifrah, who works for the Tuqu’ Municipality, went to the Etzion Coordination and Liaison Office the day after the piles were laid, to find out why the entrances had been blocked. He was told that the action had been taken for security reasons, and also because the access roads are close to a dangerous curve in the main road.

For more than a month now, residents of Abu Ghassan have had to leave their cars on the main road and climb over the dirt piles and boulders to reach home. They have to carry all shopping products, including gas canisters and animal feed, on their backs. As the village has no medical services whatsoever, residents have carry persons needing medical care over the piles and boulders to reach the main road. Children meeting the school bus are in danger, as they now have to walk out to the main road.

The blocking of car access to an entire neighborhood infringes the villagers’ rights to freedom of movement, to earning a livelihood, and to receiving medical treatment. On 14 April 2011, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel wrote to the military commander of Judea and Samaria, demanding that the blocks be removed immediately.