High Holidays

It was عيد الفطر (Eid ul-Fitr) this week, the festival that celebrates the end of رمضان Ramadan. Family visits are accustomary on a holiday. In previous years I remember traffic jams and long lines of pedestrians at the checkpoints. In their Sunday Clothes, with gifts in their hands. This year the checkpoints were almost empty. The closure (see below) on the West Bank, just as in any other Jewish holiday, kept most people at home. The photos are from the Checkpoints at the Jordan Valley Rift, September 20, 2009, in the afternoon:


Hamra checkpoint (road 57)


Tayasir checkpoint (on road 5799):



A siege (Keter or Matzor in Hebrew) is the surrounding of an area and the full or partial prevention of access into or out of it. Nablus, for example, the whole city, the refugee camp and the 15 villages around it, all in all 20 thousand residents, is under such a siege for more than seven years. Entry and exit are possible only through one of the three checkpoints surrounding it (Huwwara, Dir Sharaf and Beit-Furik), and only after examination at the entrance and mainly at the exit from it. Other access ways to and from the city have been blocked by concrete blocks, fences, dirt mounds, and iron arms.

During a curfew (‘otzer in Hebrew) leaving one’s house is prohibited. There is a further prohibition on financial activity. A prolonged curfew is collective punishment, and is against international law.

During a closure (Seger in Hebrew), all entry permits to Israel are cancelled. Permits that were issued to residents of the West Bank for the sake of work and medical care. In 2000, during the Al-Aqsa riots, the whole territories were put under a complete closure. A general closure is when entry is allowed with a permit, usually in the form of a magnetic card. In fact, the West Bank is under this closure since the first Gulf War of 1991. Eventually, and under severe restrictions, Israel began allowing entry for medical and financial purposes. However, following acts of violence, or during Jewish holidays a complete closure is imposed on the West Bank and all permits are cancelled.


Click here for a Hebrew version of this post.

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