Roadblock in Al Jab’a replaced by Gate, Palestinians Still Shut Out

21 June 2011

In 2002, Israeli military created the illegal roadblock to prevent the villagers of Surif and the villagers of Al Jab’a to commute back and forth by car. The roadblock consisted of dirt, large stones, at least five massive boulders, and more than nine 2-5 ton concrete slabs and blocks. Presently, Palestinians seeking to reach their village from the neighboring village are forced to approach the barrier by car, unload their goods and crops over the roadblock, and repack them into a car located on the other side of the barrier. While this restriction is extremely difficult to navigate, there are multiple other problems. The barrier is built at the junction of a Palestinian road, and a settler-only road leading towards the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh, and in the opposite direction towards Bethlehem, Hebron or Jerusalem. This road leads towards many settlements, and it is partially for this reason that Palestinians are prevented from crossing it via car.

The roadblock prevents Palestinians from traveling within the occupied West Bank, and prevents
farmers from transporting their crops from the fields to the markets, it also makes it difficult for local students from attending secondary school. Daily, students from the village of Al’Jab’a must travel to Surif to study. They are forced to make this long journey by foot because the roadblock prevents buses and service taxis from crossing the settler road to the adjacent village. In Al’Jab’a, the school serves students until around age 11. When the students reach twelve years of age, they must go to the older children’s’ school in Surif. With the road block in place, this simple journey is grueling and slow.

Residents of Al’Jab’a and Surif along with Internationals from PSP and Israeli activists met to partially remove this roadblock on 21 September 2006. Recently the concrete and earthen roadblock was replaced by the Israeli military with a gate in preparation for a visit by German officials. The German Consulate funded the building of a boy’s school in Al’Jab’a in 2009. Prior to this visit occurring the Israeli opened the gate briefly allowing the free flow of traffic between the two municipalities. However, the gate has remained closed since shortly after the German delegation departed illustrating continued deception by the Israeli government in regards to the harsh realities of the occupation. For Palestinians, despite the shiny new yellow gate, these two historically integral communities remain cut from one another indefinitely.