Jerusalem24 – While the residents of Shuafat, Anata, and Al-Salam in occupied East Jerusalem are reeling from a 10-day siege imposed on them by the Israeli military, the city of Nablus in the northern occupied West Bank is facing siege-like conditions of its own for the eighth consecutive day.
Following the death of an Israeli soldier – the second in less than a week – in a shooting attack on 11 October near the illegal Israeli settlement of Shavi Shomron near Nablus in the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces established a large military presence surrounding Nablus, sealing several roads with dirt mounds and closing the checkpoints leading to the city.
Multiple roads faced a full closure, and were a few days later partially reopened under strict military procedures and security checks of the Palestinians passing through.
Palestinian armed group the Lions’ Den claimed the attack near Shavi Shomron. Earlier that day, the group had called for “days of rage” and for Palestinians to mobilize and head toward “confrontations points” with Israeli soldiers.
Roads and villages including Deir Sharaf, Masaken, Huwara, Ourta, Sarra, Tal, and Asira Al-Shamaliyeh, as well as Beit Furik and Sebastia, have all been sealed off or their access restricted by closed military checkpoints.
Israeli forces have also been closing the Huwara checkpoint south of Nablus for those leaving this morning and installed a number of mobile checkpoints along Huwara Main Street and at the entrance to the town of Beita.
This morning, the checkpoints of Serra, Murabba, Beit Furik and Hamra, east and north of Nablus, witnessed an intense traffic crisis, due to strict security checks and ID verifications of Palestinians passing through the checkpoints.
Israeli forces also continue to seal the entrance to the village of Deir Sharaf, west of Nablus, with dirt mounds and concrete blocks.
Israeli forces also detained a number of citizens from the village of Salem east of Nablus at a military gate as they were on their way to pick olives this morning.
According to reports by local media quoting Israeli military sources, the siege on Nablus is expected to continue indefinitely, with a “security assessment” meeting to be held at the end of the week.
Siege triggers “state of emergency”
An emergency committee established by residents of the city has been on standby since the beginning of the siege. The committee’s goal is making sure the needs of the citizens under siege are met and preparations undertaken to handle any scenario.
The siege is not only affecting the residents in terms of freedom of movement: it has also worsened the economic situation, with movement coming to a near-standstill inside the city, as students, laborers and employees from outside the city itself are prevented from entering.
Al-Najah university has switched to online classes since last week, depriving commercial outlets of their regular business. Residents have also been struggling to move in and out of the city to attend to personal affairs – a situation that worsens with each passing day.
The emergency committee called for regional and local committees to be established in order to cover any needs as they arise, and has appealed to the Palestinian people and various institutions to organize “voluntary campaigns to help harvest olives this season and protect them from attacks by settlers and the occupation army.”
The committee also holds the Israeli government “fully responsible for any aggression against citizens and their property.”
The political factions’ coordination committee in Nablus also issued a statement calling for the Palestinian people to organize a campaign against the siege, calling on “the masses in the city to confront this siege and not to accept the reality that the Israeli military is imposing on them.”
It also called on Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh and his cabinet ministers to “commit to their responsibilities towards the Palestinian people” and hold an emergency cabinet session with under the name “Breaking the siege on the Nablus governorate”.
The committee also appealed to international bodies to intervene and put an end to the siege, and ensure the protection of the Palestinian people.
The siege continues as settler attacks rise
After the Israeli military announced the death of their soldier in the shooting attack near Shavi Shomron, and since the beginning of the siege on the city, Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians and their property have been on the rise, in both frequency and intensity.
Moata Palestinian Information Center recorded 27 attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian persons and property over the last weekend alone.
Eyewitness accounts, pictures and video footage shared over social media show vandalized Palestinian property and charred agricultural lands in the wake of attacks by settlers.
Earlier in the week on Wednesday, in the nearby village of Qusra, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian-owned poultry farms and torched three of them, leading to the deaths of 30,000 birds. The settlers also destroyed olive trees in the area, leading to confrontations and injuries to Palestinian residents.
Nablus residents respond to call by Lions’ Den
In the early hours of the morning on Tuesday, Palestinian armed group the Lion’s Den released a statement through their telegram channel calling for the Palestinian people in Nablus to shout prayer calls at three in the morning from their house rooftops.
The statement was quickly shared through social media and thousands of Palestinians in the city of Nablus left their home and gathered in the center of the city while others answered the call from the rooftops of their homes.
Despite the call addressing residents of Nablus, videos emerged on social media of Palestinians across the occupied West Bank protesting and gathering in solidarity with residents of Nablus, including in Shuafat refugee camp, Beit Ummar, Silwad, Jenin, Al-Halazun refugee camp, Shweika, Hebron, and Bethlehem.