Avi Issacharoff, 26 January 2010
Israel promised the Obama administration and the international community that it has been working hard to enable freer movement for Palestinians in the West Bank over the last few months.
The number of manned checkpoints across the territory has remarkably decreased, particularly those placed near central large cities – as per U.S. President Barack Obama’s demand.
However, the Palestinian Authority has complained of a growing number of roadblocks.
A Haaretz probe reveals that while the number of checkpoints with a consistent Israel Defense Forces presence has indeed dropped, the army has been positioning more roadblocks with only sporadic supervision on an operational basis.
This phenomenon is true not only along the Green Line, but also near major cities in the northern West Bank – including Ramallah, Nablus and Tul Karm.
Many of the roadblocks that made it impossible for Palestinians to conduct normal lifestyles over the course of the Intifada have indeed been dismantled.
A good number of roadblocks are still being manned by IDF troops, however, who conduct extensive searches on Palestinian civilians and continue to make movement from one West Bank city to the next an arduous ordeal.
The unmanned roadblocks have not eased movement, according to the Palestinians, because of the severe traffic jams they create. The IDF troops sporadically manning these stations tend to carry out meticulous searches, again causing severe delays and making movement slow.
The IDF admitted that its troops sometimes conduct extensive searches at the unmanned roadblocks, but said such checks were warranted by specific intelligence information.