Israeli forces seal off Ramallah city

Israeli forces seal off Ramallah city
Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been stopped from reaching families, work, universities and schools as Israeli troops block access to Ramallah on Monday.
2 min read
01 February, 2016
Israeli soldiers at a check point after they shot dead a Palestinian in Ramallah [Anadolu]
Israeli forces have sealed off the city of Ramallah in the West Bank during the early hours of Monday, allowing only residents to enter and non-residents to leave until further notice.

The move comes after an alleged shooting attack by a Palestinian policeman at a checkpoint near the city wounded three Israeli soldiers on Sunday.

The Israeli military cited "situation assessments" as the reason for the blockade of the Palestinian economic and political hub.

But Palestinians view it as a collective punishment for the act of one man.

"They shouldn't punish the entire governorate of Ramallah for a policeman who carried out an attack," said Adnan Damiri, a Palestinian police spokesman.

Ramallah is the seat of the semi-autonomous Palestinian authority and is a commercial centre that draws workers from around the West Bank, with tens of thousands of Palestinians visiting the city daily.

Israeli troops closed off roads with large concrete blocks and without any prior notice, preventing people from entering the city, the head of Ras Karkar village council Bahjat Samhan said.

The blockade stops people from reaching their families, work, universities and schools, Samhan added.

"Internal closures" were common during the Palestinian uprising that ended a decade ago, but have been rarely used in recent years.

In November 2015, Israel's security cabinet authorised the Israeli army to seal off Palestinian villages in the West Bank without prior approval from the government, in attempt to contain a wave of nearly-daily attacks which began in mid-September last year.

At least 164 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since October, 32 of them under the age of 18.

Israel says a Palestinian campaign of incitement is fanning the violence.

The Palestinians say it is rooted in frustration stemming from nearly five decades of Israeli occupation.