Although distances are rather short here, traveling in the West Bank is definitely a problem. No efficient bus lines, no trains. We and the Palestinians pay a lot to travel by Service Buses and Taxis.
Below you can find a list of obstacles that every Palestinian faces whenever he or she needs to travel.
- There is a lot of checkpoints on the roads in the West Bank. Palestinians have to wait in the line to checkpoint and get through the procedure with Israeli army. Moreover often checkpoints might be closed. Because of an Israeli car accident checkpoint between Ramallah and Nablus was closed recently. All Palestinians had to wait in a long traffic line for the whole day before they were let through.
A few years ago it was even worse; checkpoints could be closed for a day or two. No one cared about people traveling and about their needs. They still are forced to wait hours in heat or cold and rain.
The Palestinians may face body searches in private rooms, be ordered to remove their clothes, they may be beaten, humiliated in various ways, they may be taken away their personal belongings like mobile phones, they may be refused to carry through household goods, like food, chemical cleaners because of “security” reasons.
They may be not let through because of Israeli holiday. Tens of people died because they were not let through the checkpoint, even though they were in the need of urgent medical treatment.
This year, in Hamra checkpoint, close to which we live Israeli woman soldier killed Palestinian man with no reason. Afterwards she was explaining that “it was a mistake”.
- Israel doesn’t allow Palestinians to use some roads in Palestine, which are meant to be used only by the Israelis. This prohibition here goes even further; we heard that Palestinians are not allowed even to cross an Israeli road while traveling by Palestinian road. So, they need to get off the vehicle before the crossroads, walk to the other side of Israeli road and there get on to other vehicle.
What does it have in common with “security” and how does it influence local development, transportation of crops, etc. ?…
- There are buses in the JordanValley, but they are meant to be used by Israeli settlers only. Palestinians are simply not allowed to get on such a bus. We see them everyday going around and stopping only near Israeli settlements. Recent action of “Freedom Riders” turned public opinion eyes to this problem (about the action you can read under Polish or English link).
- Israel changes Arabic names of cities to Jewish ones. For example Jerusalem is pronounced “Al Quds” in Arabic, but when Israeli government sets a board with city names, near Hebrew and English version there is an Arabic one, which says “Yerushalaim” – Jewish city name phonetically written in Arabic alphabet.
And so, should the Arabs forget about their heritage and start using Jewish city names. Well, Arabic names get devastated anyway, as can be seen in the picture below:
- Needless to say, Palestinians from the West Bank are not allowed to travel freely to Israel and even to Gaza.
- Palestinian roads are being demolished by the Israelis.
- On the top of that Palestinians are not allowed to build their own infrastructure.
Right to free movement is internationally recognized as one of the basic human rights.