Sunday, August 2, 2009

In the West Bank, the IDF opens a major road fr. Hebron to Bayt ‘Awwa that passes by Kiryat Arba settlement to Palestinian traffic for the 1st time in 8 yrs. after the High Court rules that closing the road is not necessary to protect the safety of local Jewish settlers; however, 2 road blocks at either end of the road are replaced with permanently staffed IDF checkpoints, and Palestinians wishing to use the road must apply for special IDF permits (as of 8/31 only 22 vehicles and 44 drivers were on the list). The IDF also conducts late-night arrest raids, house searches nr. Bethlehem and in ‘Askar r.c., Balata r.c., and Bil‘in. Israeli police carry out a predawn eviction of 2 Palestinian families (52 people, including 20 children) fr. the Ghawi and Hanun residences in Shaykh Jarrah (see 7/28), where they have lived for more than 50 yrs., after the High Court rules that the Jewish settlers who claim ownership can move in even while the authenticity of their deeds remains disputed; Jewish settlers move in immediately; Britain, the U.S. State Dept., and UN special coordinator for the Middle East Robert Serry issue statements denouncing the action, which in Serry’s words, “heighten[s] tensions and undermine[s] international efforts to create conditions for . . . achiev[ing] peace.” Jewish settlers fr. Harsina settlement nr. Hebron set fire to 10 d. of Palestinian agricultural land nearby in an effort to create territorial linkage btwn. the settlement and a 200 d. plot of land nearby fenced off by the IDF as a closed military zone. (NYT, WP, WT 8/3; OCHA, PCHR, WJW 8/6; OCHA 8/18; OCHA Humanitarian Monitor 8/09)