Israeli declarations that restrictions on freedom of movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories have been eased as a good will gesture for the meeting in Jordan between Israeli and Palestinian prime ministers and US President Georges Bush reveal untrue as Israeli military checkpoints continue to forbid access of Palestinians citizens to their workplaces, schools, hospitals in cities centers and hamper movement between localities.
On 3 June 2003, Israeli military forces imposed a curfew on Ramallah, Al-Bireh and Betunia cities and closed all access.
In the morning of 4 June 2003, Israeli military forces closed once again the Surda military checkpoint, which commands the western access to Ramallah city, in front of hundreds of Palestinians. As people gathered near the checkpoint in the hope that it will be opened again after a while, Israeli soldiers fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters at the crowd. The same happened at the Qalandia checkpoint obstructing passage between the Jerusalem area and Ramallah.
All entrance to and exit from Nablus are prohibited as the Huwara checkpoint was closed by the Israeli forces, and the western area of Nablus is under curfew and access from this side is impossible. Wadi al-Badan road leading to Nablus is also closed.
Jenin and Tubas areas:
In Jenin, the Israeli army closed the main entrance checkpoints, and imposed a curfew on the city and the refugee camp. In Wadi Fa’a, Israeli soldiers occupied the Office for National Institutions as well as the village council’s offices. The Tubas and Jenin areas are witnessing reinforced Israeli military activities and campaigns of arrests.
Northern Gaza Strip:
Beit Hanoun is under siege and all entrances of the city are closed to vehicles, while the Israeli forces are bulldozing land and demolishing houses since 11 May. The Beit Hanoun road which leads to the Erez checkpoint, the only passage point to the Erez industrial zone and Israel, is closed and Palestinian workers are forced to take a roundabout way through Izbat Beit Hanoun where many Israeli tanks are positioned and workers often stopped.
Although Israel declared that it gave work permits to 25,000 Palestinian workers, only 3 of the 9 passage corridors in Erez military checkpoint are opened to Palestinian workers. Each worker’s papers are examined by Israeli soldiers, which takes a lot of time, and therefore an important number of workers with work permits are not able to reach their workplaces in Israel.
The Rafah area continues to be closed and reaching it is very difficult. Israeli policies of house demolitions and land bulldozing in Rafah continue.