***image3***In separate incidents last week, soldiers in isolated ghettos in Jenin and Qalqilya assaulted Palestinians passing through checkpoints. These attacks reflect a wide-spread practice of harassment, itself part of a broader strategy aimed at furthering silent transfer and cleansing particular areas of their Palestinian populations.
In the Qalqilya district, a soldier beat Sundus Mahmoud Ahamd at an âAzzun âAtma checkpoint when she was returning to her home last Friday. When she arrived at the checkpoint, a soldier called her forward for inspection. When she approached, however, another soldier told her that she had not been called. Sundus Ahamd began to argue, and in response a soldier struck her several times with a rifle butt, knocking her unconscious.
Other Palestinians waiting at the checkpoint rushed to call an ambulance. The ambulance arrived nearly 45 minutes later, on account of being delayed at the main âAzzun âAtma checkpoint, and transported the unconscious woman to the hospital for treatment. Later in the day, the residents living in the ten isolated homes in âAzzun âAtma marched to the checkpoint in protest.
Sundus Ahamd is one of the âAzzun âAtma residents isolated twice; once in the âAzzun âAtma ghetto and once again between the Wall and the Shaâarei Tikva settlement. There are ten homes trapped in this manner, and residents must cross a checkpoint to enter the village of âAzzun âAtma. Access to the rest of the West Bank requires crossing a second checkpoint in the north. As such, residents are not only cut off from the greater Palestinian community, but from their neighbors and families as well.
A second attack took place near Umm ar-Rehan, which is isolated between the Wall and the Green Line east of Jenin. Said Saleh Khatib, a teacher, was accompanying his students on a school trip when he was beaten and arrested at the checkpoint that controls access to the ghetto.
***image1***When the class reached the checkpoint at 9:00 in the morning, Khatib noticed that the soldiers at the checkpoint had detained his nephew, who happened to be there at the same time, and were threatening and insulting him. Khatib tried to intervene, and a group of soldiers attacked and beat him. They detained him at the checkpoint until 1:00 in the afternoon, and then arrested him.
These are not exceptional incidents of abuse. Not only are these incidents common, but the represent part of a systematic attempt to force Palestinians from particular areas in the West Bank. The attacks, combined with massive land and resource confiscation, isolation from social and medical services, and severe restrictions on freedom of movement, effectively amount to a strategy of low intensity ethnic cleansing. Life becomes unsustainable in these isolated ghettos, and Palestinians are slowly pushed out of their homes and off of their lands.