BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The mayor of Hizma in the Jerusalem district of the occupied West Bank told Ma’an on Sunday that the economic situation of the village had seriously deteriorated, as Israel has continued to enforce a closure on Hizma’s main entrance for the sixth day in a row.
Israeli forces installed concrete blocks and dirt barriers at the main entrance to the village last week as a punitive response to alleged stone throwing incidents from the village youth, according to Mayor Muwaffaq al-Khatiq.
Thousands of vehicles typically pass through Hizma every day since it connects the southern West Bank to the north.
“This continuous closure affects people’s lives and their freedom of movement,” said al-Khatiq, explaining that many villagers earn their living from shops and stores in the town, where business has since been cut off from daily commuters passing through.
An Israeli army spokesperson said they were looking into reports.
Hizma, a town of approximately 8,000 residents and an area of 18,000 dunams, is located in Area B — the some 22 percent of the occupied West Bank under shared Israeli military and Palestinian civil control under the Oslo Accords.
Hizma is among a number of towns across the West Bank that is targeted by near-daily, often violent overnight detention raids that spark clashes with local youth who throw stones, with Israeli soldiers shooting rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, and even live fire.
Meanwhile, Palestinians accused of stone throwing, or those accused of being affiliated with stone throwers, face arbitrary punishments in the form of road closures and the sealing of entire villages, resulting in serious economic consequences and effects on mobility that rights group have labeled “collective punishment,” representing a clear violation of international law.