Life under lockdown in West Bank district under Israeli control

Since a Hamas attack on Israel, the residents of H2 district in the West Bank have been under one of the harshest lockdowns imposed on the area in over 20 years. This lockdown has severely restricted the movement and daily lives of Palestinians living in H2, leaving them feeling trapped and isolated. The Israeli military has been enforcing the lockdown, ordering residents to stay inside their homes at gunpoint and restricting their freedom to open windows or even stand at their windows. The lockdown has been accompanied by the presence of Israeli soldiers stationed outside Palestinian homes, intensifying the atmosphere of fear and oppression. This article examines the impact of the lockdown on the daily lives of Palestinians in H2 and sheds light on the historical tensions and violence that have plagued the area for decades.

H2 is a densely populated district in Hebron, home to 39,000 Palestinians and approximately 900 Israeli settlers. The district is heavily fortified, with cameras, cages, checkpoints, concrete blast walls, and razor wire separating Palestinians and Israelis. Despite the majority of H2 being populated by Palestinians, it is under the complete control of the Israeli military. The lockdown has forced Palestinians to stay confined to their homes, with limited hours allocated for leaving their houses on specific days. This has disrupted daily routines, prevented people from going to work or school, and caused financial hardships for many families.

The lockdown in H2 is part of a pattern of shifting restrictions imposed on Palestinians in response to flare-ups in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, residents of H2 have described this lockdown as the harshest they have ever experienced. One resident, Zleekhah Mohtaseb, expressed her frustration at the settlers who can roam freely while Palestinians are confined. The disparities in treatment and perceived discrimination have led to increased tensions and anger among Palestinians.

The roots of the tensions in H2 can be traced back to 1994 when a massacre of 29 Muslims by a Jewish extremist sparked riots and an Israeli army crackdown. Palestinian businesses were closed, and the front doors of Palestinian residents were welded shut. Since then, Palestinians living around Shuhada Street have faced various restrictions on their movement and daily lives. The recent lockdown has further intensified these restrictions, leaving Palestinians feeling trapped and oppressed.

The Israeli military defends its actions, stating that they operate in accordance with the situational assessment to provide security to all residents of the area. However, human rights organizations such as B’Tselem argue that the lockdown in H2 is a form of collective punishment and a violation of international law. The Palestinians of H2 are paying the price for something they did not do, and their basic rights are being infringed upon. The Israeli settlers in H2, on the other hand, enjoy more freedom and autonomy.

The situation in H2 is emblematic of the larger Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with each side experiencing different levels of freedom and security. The continued violence and restrictions in the area only exacerbate tensions and hinder the prospects for peace. The lockdown has not only impacted the daily lives of Palestinians but has also further fueled resentment and frustration towards the Israeli occupation.

The story of H2 is a story of resilience and resistance. Despite the hardships and restrictions imposed upon them, Palestinians in H2 have found ways to navigate the lockdown and continue to live their lives. A small group of women even defied the orders and secretly gathered in a knitting circle, finding creative ways to avoid checkpoints and surveillance. These acts of defiance serve as a testament to the Palestinian people’s determination to assert their rights and maintain their sense of community.

It is essential to bring attention to the situation in H2 and advocate for the rights of Palestinians living under Israeli control. The international community must exert pressure on the Israeli government to end the lockdown and lift the restrictions imposed on Palestinians in H2. Furthermore, dialogue and negotiation between both sides are crucial for finding a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ensuring the human rights and freedom of all individuals involved.