Current Issues  
Settlements, Jerusalem, the Security Barrier,
the Right of Return, and more

Occupation: Imposition of Siege

The Occupation
   Taking Control of Land
   Dispossession, Exploitation
   Splitting the West Bank
   Restriction of Movement
      Checkpoints, Closed Rds

   Imposition of Siege
   Beatings & Abuse
   Home Demolitions
   Destruction of olive trees
   Medical Care
   Water Crisis

The Settlements
The Settlements, p2
   Settlers' Violence
   Settlers' Violence, p2

The Separation Wall
The term siege (“encirclement” in military jargon) relates, in this context, to fully or partially preventing residents from entering or leaving a certain area, while isolating the area from other parts of the West Bank. This is done by blocking the access roads to the area by means of physical obstructions, which forces the residents to pass through a staffed checkpoint on their way in and out of the area. The degree to which the siege is enforced varies from place to place and from one period to another. In almost every instance, the most immediate impact of the siege is on residents of villages situated outside the area under siege, who depend on the services provided there.

The frequent use of sieges began with the second Intifada in 2000. In the first years of the intifada, the army imposed a siege on large areas in the West Bank, but subsequently removed it in most instances. However, a partial siege, which varies in magnitude, continues to be imposed on Nablus and its periphery, and sometimes on other parts of the northern West Bank, primarily Jenin and Tulkarm.

A siege has also been imposed, since May 2005, on the Jordan Valley, though in a slightly different format. Unlike the siege on Nablus, the main restriction imposed as part of the siege on the Jordan Valley involves the entry of Palestinians who are not residents of the area; Jordan Valley residents “only” have to undergo a check at the checkpoints set up along the access roads.

The siege on the Nablus area
The Nablus area, which includes the city, three refugee camps and fifteen villages, contains over 200,000 persons. It has been under siege for six years. Entry and exit is possible only via four checkpoints that surround it. Crossing the checkpoints entails stringent checks of persons, vehicles and goods in both directions. Physical obstructions block all the other entrances and exits to the area.

From time to time, Israel also imposes collective prohibitions, completely prohibiting residents from leaving the besieged area, except for those with a special exit permit. Generally, where a siege has been imposed, the army does not issue permits to cross for “routine” reasons, such as work, family visits, or studies, but only for reasons the authorities consider humanitarian, such as medical treatment.

Collective restrictions, which have been imposed periodically since 2002, generally apply to males in a specific age group, usually 16-35. At times, the restrictions also apply to females. In 2006 alone, the movement prohibitions were in force for more than nine months. From January to August 2007, this collective prohibition was in force at least 45 days.

These restrictions cause extensive, profound harm and affect fundamental aspects of the fabric of life in the area: many of the residents have lost their jobs and ability to support their families; pupils and students cannot complete their studies and exams; residents of nearby villages are unable to receive regular medical care or other basic services; many persons find themselves separated from their families living outside the besieged area. The harm is aggravated as a result of the sweeping nature and extensive duration of the restrictions.

See sources for all topics in this section, The Occupation.