idf roadblock 298 88 idf.
(photo credit: IDF [file])
The number of West Bank roadblocks has increased by 52 percent in the last two years, according to a report released Friday by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
It was released two days after Defense Minister Ehud Barak promised United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that he would remove 24 road blocks in the West Bank.
The UN report, however, argued that the situation is getting worse, not better. In just the last month an additional 40 roadblocks were added, for an increase of 7.5 percent, from 532 to 572. Out of the total number of roadblocks, 76 are manned and 19 are partially manned. That is an increase of 62% from two years ago when only 59 were manned.
Separately the United Nations Relief and Works Association complained that some 300 of its Palestinian workers were barred from entering Jerusalem from the West Bank on Friday.
Shlomo Dror, the spokesman for the coordinator of government activities in the territories, responded that traditionally UNRWA workers are not allowed access to Jerusalem on Yom Kippur.
But UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said that the ban has in the past been imposed from the start of the holiday, rather than the morning before. The IDF, he said, is suppose to tell UNRWA before it stops its workers from entering the city, but this year no such notification was received.
In general, Gunness added, the IDF has imposed more movement restrictions on its workers this year than last. In the first eight months of 2007, there was a 15% increase in the number of lost work hours due to travel restrictions on UNRWA workers who service the Palestinian refugee population in the Jerusalem area, including includes doctors and teachers, said Gunness,
"We call on the Israeli authorities to respect the existing agreements with UNRWA and to allow us to service the Palestintian refugees, and to deliver the services that we are mandated to deliver," said Gunness.
Dror said that all restrictions were security related.