Israel has been imposing a tight closure on dozens of Palestinian communities in the occupied territory, restricting their movement and access to basic services
Israel has been increasingly installing iron gates at the entrances to Palestinian villages and towns in the West Bank, which it controls and occupies since 1967, to prevent the movement of residents in and out of their communities.
Israel started placing gates at the entrances of towns and villages during the Second Intifada, a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation that erupted in 2000, but it has doubled down on the practice, seen by Palestinians as collective punishment, especially since Oct. 7, when Hamas, the Palestinian group that rules Gaza, launched a rocket attack on Israel, killing more than 1,200 Israelis, the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.
Since then, Israel has been bombing Gaza for nearly three months, killing more than 20,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and displacing nearly 90 percent of its population, while also imposing a tight closure on the West Bank, where it has arrested hundreds of Palestinians, demolished dozens of homes, and raided several towns and villages.
According to the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Local Government, Israel has installed more than 100 gates at the entrances of more than 80 Palestinian communities in the West Bank, affecting more than 800,000 Palestinians, or about 20 percent of the West Bank’s population.
The ministry said that the gates are usually closed by the Israeli army or the Israeli settlers, who live in illegal settlements in the West Bank, without any prior notice or justification, and that they are opened only at certain hours or days, or not at all, depending on the mood and the whim of the soldiers or the settlers.
The ministry said that the closure of the gates has severe consequences for the residents of the affected communities, who are denied their freedom of movement and access to basic services, such as health care, education, work, trade, and agriculture.
The ministry said that the closure of the gates has also increased the isolation and the fragmentation of the Palestinian communities, who are already separated by the Israeli-built wall, checkpoints, and roads, and that it has undermined their social and economic development and their resilience.
The ministry said that the closure of the gates has also violated the human rights and the international law, which guarantee the right to movement and the right to self-determination for the Palestinian people, who are living under a foreign military occupation.
The ministry said that it has repeatedly appealed to the international community and the humanitarian organizations, to intervene and to pressure Israel to lift the closure and to remove the gates, and to hold Israel accountable for its actions and its violations.
The ministry said that it has also tried to coordinate and communicate with the Israeli authorities, to facilitate the opening and the operation of the gates, and to address the needs and the complaints of the residents, but that it has faced obstacles and challenges from the Israeli side, which has often ignored or rejected its requests and proposals.
The ministry said that it has also provided assistance and support to the residents of the affected communities, such as providing alternative roads and routes, delivering emergency services and supplies, and offering legal and technical advice and guidance.
The ministry said that it has also documented and reported the cases and the incidents of the closure and the gates, and that it has filed lawsuits and petitions to the Israeli courts and the international bodies, to challenge and to stop the Israeli measures and policies.
The ministry said that it will continue to work and to struggle, in cooperation and coordination with the Palestinian leadership and the civil society, to end the Israeli occupation and the colonization of the Palestinian land, and to achieve the independence and the sovereignty of the Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.