Israel’s Actions Reflects the Arrogant Mentality of an Occupier

18.01.11 – 13:25


By Daoud Kuttab – Sometime over the weekend and somewhere within the Israeli military’s decision making apparatus, a decision was taken. Thousands of decisions like this are taken daily. For sure no one thought much of it, after all, who cares about such insignificant decisions that affects the Palestinian population.The Israeli army which is generally in charge of the occupied territories and specifically in charge of all declared military areas, decided to close a particular area off for security reasons. The area in question is the King Hussein bridge, the only crossing point in and out of the occupied Palestinian territories for three million Palestinians.

For the Israeli military, there is a justification. The president of the Russian Federation, Dimitry Medvedev is scheduled to attend a public event dedicating a Russian Orthodox Church overlooking the Jordan River, within a few kilometers of the bridge terminal on Tuesday. So as a security precaution the military declared a large area a closed military zone and because within this radius area, the King Hussein bridge or the Allenby Bridge, just happen to lay, the orders were made to prevent civilians from using this terminal crossing.



Even though President Medvedev is probably only going to spend a few minutes crossing the bridge (compared to hours that locals spend) and at most an hour or more at this remote Jordan Valley location, the orders were made to close the bridge an entire day. Until sometime late on Monday morning very few people knew about this decision.

I was in Copenhagen when I noticed in an email, an item on a daily security report that I get from AMAN, a Palestinian NGO, that the Allenby Bridge will be closed from 7am to 7 pm on Tuesday because of the visit of the Russian President. I called my office in Amman and asked a journalist to check the story out. Mohammad Khatib the vigil spokesman of the Jordanian police, whose office usually issues reports about such decisions, had no information.The director of the Jordanian was unavailable in the morning but the head of the PR department at the Jordanian side said that he had heard something to the effect but that no declaration had been publicly made. Later in the day, General Jamal Badour from the Jordanian police and the director of the bridge confirmed that the Israelis were planning to close the bridge because of the visit of the Russian official. He stated that while Jordan’s side is always open, that if the Israelis close their side, the bridge is in effect will be closed open only from 7am to 7 pm. An announcement made later in the day which appeared in some of the dailies noted that the bridge will be open from 7pm to 10pm.

A couple of thousand Palestinians and other cross the Jordan River daily. While Jordanians and foreigners can use other crossing points and can fly between Tel Aviv and Amman’s Queen Alia Airport, Palestinians have no other outlet except this singular crossing point. Palestinians wishing to travel anywhere in the world have no choice but cross using this bridge. If you have an afternoon flight, for example, you would leave Tuesday morning thus having enough time to make your plane without having to stay another day. If you are arriving during the day from abroad you would take a taxi directly to the bridge.

For the Israeli army, this decision is rather insignificant. Who care about Palestinians and their travel plans. Had the Russian president or any other official wanted to visit Lydda, Ben Gurion Airport would not have been closed for 12 hours. If a visiting dignitary wanted to dedicate a location near the Haifa port, no one would think of closing the Haifa port for 12 hours. But this is not an internal Israeli issue where there is accountability of decisions. This is a decision by a military power affecting the affairs of a population under its control. Who care what they think?

Even neighbouring countries like Jordan, are only informed of such a decision at a very late state. No one in the Israeli army thinks of making a mutual decision. After all this is a decision regarding Israel’s sacred cow, security!!!

The Russian federation which is part of the quarter (that also includes, the US, Europe and the UN) is the international group that is supposed to be leading the peace process in the Middle East.

Among the decisions that the quartet issued years ago was the Road Map for Peace. According to this important document, the Palestinians were asked to take care of internal security especially in regards of attacks against Israelis, while Israel was supposed to freeze its illegal settlement activities and to return the situation in the occupied territories to the pre October 2000 status.

In the last years of the 20th century, the Palestinian Authority officials were posted at the bridge and were involved in decisions regarding hours and conditions of the bridge. And while the Palestinian Authority has meticulously carried out its security obligations, the Israelis have refused to allow a return to the pre 2000 status throughout the occupied territories as well as on the bridge terminals leaving the Israeli army solely in charge.

Last week we saw an Arab population in Tunisia revolt against a leader of its own population after 23 years of civilian rule because they felt he has not allowed them to properly participate in how their country is being run.

For Palestinians it has been 44 years in which a foreign military occupation has been ruling over a Palestinian population. This foreign military power has also defended and protected an expansionist racist power that feels that the West Bank is the Biblical Judea and Samaria and that they have a God given right to it, irrespective of international law or the desires of the local population.

The last-minute decision by the Israeli army to close the King Hussein Bridge for 12 hours on Tuesday, might appear to Israeli generals to be an insignificant decision. But such a decision is yet one more reminder that the root problem is Israel’s illegal military occupation. Perhaps President Medvedev whose presence has caused further suffering to Palestinians (without his knowledge), will impress on any Israeli official that he meets that this occupation must end immediately.

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