A prominent Israeli human rights organization on Monday accused Israel of imposing severe restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, essentially annexing the eastern strip of the West Bank.
Betselem said its research found the army was forbidding entry to the Jordan Valley to those Palestinians who were not residents there. As a result, farmers were separated from their land and relatives were kept apart, it said.
The army responded to the Betselem report with a statement, saying that Palestinians with work permits were allowed to enter the Jordan Valley and humanitarian cases were taken into consideration. It added that the Jordan Valley had considerably less checkpoints than the rest of the West Bank, but they were still necessary.
"In order to prevent terrorism, the Israeli army has taken measures to defend Israeli communities and traffic in the Jordan Valley," it said.
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