Israeli soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Bethlehem on June 29, 2015. (Photo: AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)
Israeli soldiers stand guard at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Bethlehem on June 29, 2015. (Photo: AFP/Ahmad Gharabli)

Nablus, 25 Ramadan 1436/12 July 2015 (MINA) – Israeli forces closed a major checkpoint Saturday morning on the main road near Nablus in the northern West Bank for “security reasons.”

Officials from the Palestinian liaison office told Ma’an that they were notified by their Israeli counterpart that the Huwwara checkpoint south of Nablus would be closed to traffic in both directions until further notice.

Palestinian liaison offices coordinate with Israeli authorities on the movement of Palestinians within the occupied West Bank due to security coordination between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, Ma’an News Agency reports as quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA).

Palestinian drivers were told to use another checkpoint near the town of Awarta south of Nablus.

An Israeli spokesperson for COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) did not have immediate information on the incident.

Last week the checkpoint was also closed by Israeli forces who set up flying checkpoints in the surrounding area.

Huwwara is one of several Israeli military checkpoints in the Nablus area, where an increasing number of Israeli settlers has been matched by an increasing presence of Israeli forces, who make routine incursions into Palestinian communities.

The Nablus governorate, comprising the city of Nablus, three refugee camps and fifteen villages, is home to over 200,000 Palestinians whose movements has been severely restricted for the past six years, with Israeli human rights group B’Tselem describing military restrictions on locals as a “siege.”

Entry and exit is possible only via one of four Israeli checkpoints in the surrounding area.

Rights group Association for Civil Rights in Israel filed a petition demanding the “siege” on the area be lifted following its implementation in 2006.

While the Israeli army argued at the time that such encirclement enables effective control of those entering and leaving the area, making it easier for security forces to thwart “terrorist attacks,” local residents believe the presence aims to protect expanding settlements.

Last week’s closure of Huwwara checkpoint came after an exchange of attacks between Palestinian locals and Israeli settlers living in the Nablus area that left one settler dead and several injured.

A weekly average of 2 Israelis have been injured by Palestinians since the start of 2015, while around 38 Palestinians have been injured weekly by Israeli forces during the same time period, not including attacks by Israeli settlers. (T/P010/NMT)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)

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