Israel maintains Ramallah lockdown after violence intensifies

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 20.12.2018 01:51
Updated 20.12.2018 08:00

Israeli forces on Wednesday continued their lockdown of the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Al-Bireh for the 6th day in a row. The Israeli army has blocked the entrances of the cities by military barricades and restricted the movement of people out of the two areas.

"The Palestinian political leadership is calling on various international contacts to pressure Israel to stop its practices," Walid Wahdan, a spokesman for the Palestinian civil affairs authority, said, as reported by Anadolu Agency (AA).

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank have suffered frequent attacks, after a serious Israeli escalation in the form of incursions into the occupied territories, including the Palestinian news agency. Last week, Israeli security forces responded to the latest escalation of tensions by setting up checkpoints around Ramallah, effectively cordoning off the administrative center of Palestinians in the West Bank. As part of the continuation of Israeli incursions and attacks against the Palestinian people in the Palestinian cities, Israeli forces entered the Palestinian city of Ramallah on Monday and raided the offices of the official Palestinian news agency, WAFA. Palestinians said it was the first time Israel had taken this measure since the end of the second Intifada, or Palestinian popular uprising, in 2005. Extremist Jewish settlers have also staged frequent attacks on Palestinians and their property in the occupied West Bank.

The latest string of West Bank violence comes amid years-long diplomatic paralysis, diminishing hopes for peace and escalating Palestinian frustration with the policies of President Donald Trump, who Palestinians accuse of unfair bias toward Israel.

Peace talks have stalled throughout Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decade-long tenure, while Israeli settlements in the West Bank have expanded, incensing Palestinians. The international community regards all Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories to be illegal and a major obstacle to Middle East peace.

Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War and hundreds of thousands of Jewish-Israelis are now living in the territory, which is claimed by Palestinians for their future independent state. Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas that are also home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians. Palestinians have long argued that the Israeli settlements could deny them a viable and contiguous state.

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