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Palestinian 'car protest' in West Bank challenges road segregation

Palestinians attempted to set out in a motorcade of about 50 cars from Jericho en route to Ramallah this morning, to protest and challenge the system of Israeli-only roads throughout the West Bank, according to Twitter updates over the last few hours with the hashtag #carprotest.

Palestinian car protest stopped in Jericho (Photo: Israeli Ta'ayush activist)

According to an Israeli Ta’ayush activist I spoke to who was there and who prefers not to be named, dozens of cars manned by Palestinians from the West Bank tried to leave Jericho this morning in a non-violent protest action, but were stopped by Israeli forces, who blocked the four lanes entering and exiting the Palestinian city.

Border Police used excessive force on several protestors, and at least two Palestinians were arrested, one man and one woman and we heard of more being detained later on. After about an hour and a half, the forces began allowing cars to pass through at a very slow pace, and about two kilometers further on, another “flying” checkpoint was created that was stopping and inspecting the vehicles.

Here is a video posted on twitter from the protest:

There are hundreds of checkpoints in the West Bank that are used to control and restrict Palestinian freedom of movement. According to a report from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories, there were 522 roadblocks and checkpoints in 2011 throughout the West Bank, and four out of the five roads that lead into the Jordan Valley are not accessible to Palestinian vehicles. Some more facts from the report indicate that in 2011:

An additional 495 ad-hoc ‘flying’ checkpoints obstructed movement around the West Bank each month (on average), compared to 351 in the past two years. 200,000 people from 70 villages are forced to use detours between two to five times longer than the direct route to their closest city due to movement restrictions; One or more of the main entrances are blocked to Palestinian traffic in ten out of eleven major West Bank cities.

So far, according to unconfirmed Twitter reports from about 2:30 P.M. local time, at least three men and one woman were arrested for driving on the road, among them, Khaled and Omar Tamimi from Nabi Saleh. The motorcade has been stopped by Israeli forces in Jericho but there are indications on Twitter that the protestors are trying to regroup and try different tactics and locations.

A woman being taken by soldiers from the protest scene (photo: Fadi Arouri)

Similar direct action protests took place in November when Palestinians reenacted the US civil rights “Freedom Rides” by getting on a bus serving only Jewish settlers in the West Bank on its way to East Jerusalem.


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    1. gill

      what about “Moslems Only” roads in Mecca?

      Reply to Comment
    2. Mikesailor

      Gill: That is a truly despicable riposte. How many Jews live in Mecca? How many Palestinians live on the West Bank? I have never heard of ‘flying checkpoints’ in Saudi Arabia preventing drivers from using certain roads. Yet you countenance this practice. Why? And, let me remind you, the Palestinians are both Christians and Muslims. How many Israeli Arabs are allowed to use these roads? Or are they only for Jews? How many Israeli Arab settlements are there in the West Bank? I am sure your ignorance is the only excuse you have for attempting to use that old ‘hasbarista’ standby, attempting to show you behavior isn’t despicable by pointing at someone else. Either ignorance or something worse.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Kevin Morrow

      A question for Mairav: do we know who sponsored the protest action? Were these the same people that did the Palestinian Freedom Rides in November? Was there a discernable organizational affiliation here?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Mairav Zonszein

      @Kevin Morrow – I’m told it was organized by the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees of the West Bank.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Yitzhak

      Challenging the Jewish-only roads? That’s pretty interesting, because there aren’t any of those. Do you mean to use the word, “Israeli”???

      Reply to Comment
    6. Yitzhak

      Mike, lol. Jews are not allowed to enter Saudi Arabia. Not that it would excuse Jewish-only roads, which don’t exist. Israeli Arabs can go anywhere they want inside the green line and outside the green line in the West Bank, thus making them Israeli-only roads.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Lauren

      What sickens me is that the idiots in Washington send my tax dollars to help expand the apartied roads and settler infrastructure. I wish we had a choice here about our tax money should go to. Certainly not for wars and genocide.
      As long as AIPAC runs our government, we will continue to support current Israel regime no matter how it affects the Pals.

      Reply to Comment
    8. There have been a couple of occasions when my Palestinian Israeli friends were turned back as they tried to reach Nablus, being told, “You must know that this road isn’t for Arabs.” This doesn’t happen all or even most of the time, but there is always a chance of it, as the soldiers at the roadblocks often issue conflicting and arbitrary orders about who can and can’t pass. For the most part the rule that is applied is Israeli-only – and that’s bad enough. Having to take up to three hours over a journey that should last twenty minutes has an extremely detrimental effect on people’s quality of life. Think about what that would mean for you if you were subjected to it.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Yitzhak – I’ve travelled with Palestinian-Israelis in the West Bank. Many times they (not me) were pulled out of lines at checkpoints, and their IDs were examined for 10-20 minutes. Only then were they finally allowed to pass. Also, I’ve been in cars with Palestinian bedouins – we were (of course) refused entrance into settlements, for example, into Maale Adumim. The Palestinian bedouins east of Jerusalem, live in encampments which are regarded as totally illegal by Israel. Often their tents or shacks are demolished because of this. Meanwhile, nearby Maale Adumim is of course zoned for legal residences (but Palestinian bedouins can’t live in them). There’s a problem here – how do you think we should solve it???

      Reply to Comment
    10. sh

      Israeli-only roads are no better than Jew-only roads, but they are different. But foreign number-plates from the countries with which we have those “cold peaces” seem to be allowed on them too. In effect the only people inconvenienced by this stricture are those who live in the areas they run through who are not Jewish. Such are the twisted ways of occupation.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Richard Witty

      An effective demonstration in the spirit of Gandhi.

      To succeed, they should undertake it twice weekly until it receives widespread international attention.

      It should remain limited to the specific complaint (“Israeli/Jewish only”), and not get spread thin into other even related issues.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Joe Laurence

      My hard earned American tax money goes to support these fascist policies and this is what makes me ANGRY. Peaceful resistance is key I think this protest was effective.

      Reply to Comment
    13. I have seen just a little bit of humiliation in my world. I cannot imagine how it must be to make events such as this protest a statement of what one is. Generations have lived this. I have no advice as to what they should do next. My mind cannot comprehend the landscape they live. Some days, I replay the “Media Box” on +972’s front page. At its end, with the last of that young woman’s words, I sit awed: “We teach the world life every day.” I hope so. For the world’s sake.

      Reply to Comment
    14. AYLA

      A friend (Jewish Israeli, human rights lawyer) was driving on a West Bank road between Jerusalem and Be’er Sheva a few weeks ago, just because it’s faster, and she saw a billboard type sign for road safety–something about not talking on your cell phone when you drive, I think–that read “Everyone is Equal on the Road” and she said she nearly ran herself off the road with outrage. Everyone is NOT equal on the road.

      Reply to Comment
    15. AYLA

      to all who protested: thank you. Keep going.

      Reply to Comment
    16. david

      ayla- those signs are written in hebrew and arabic- put up by a regional council that can continue to receive encouragement for acknowledging and starting to think together. we think those signs and road safety is a positive place of co-operation…

      Reply to Comment
    17. Response to ‘Gill.’

      ‘Whataboutery’; when someone has nothing original or intelligent to say.

      Reply to Comment