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RAMALLAH: The Israeli army’s blockade against 200,000 people in Nablus and surrounding villages in the occupied West Bank continued for an eighth day on Tuesday.

Several main arteries remain closed. Cement blocks have been used to block entrances to the city and random moving checkpoints continue to disrupt residents’ lives, Palestinian sources told Arab News. There has been no letting up in the crackdown by the Israel Defense Forces, the Shin Bet internal security service or the Israeli Border Police forces in Nablus, Jenin and other West Bank cities.

Dozens of people have been arrested and their small arms confiscated as Israeli authorities hunt down members of the local military group Areen Al-Osood, accused of targeting Israeli military forces and settlers. Its 150 fighters are not affiliated with traditional Palestinian organizations like Fatah or Hamas.

Israeli settlers in the area have dramatically intensified their attacks on Palestinian farmers, targeting villages and towns, closing road junctions, chopping down trees and destroying Palestinian vehicles.

Analysts view the crackdown in the context of Israel’s upcoming parliamentary elections on November 1. Some have expressed concern about the escalation of attacks in the coming days as a form of collective punishment, as the brutal treatment of Palestinians can help politicians. win votes among West Bank settlers, whose number is estimated at around 700,000.

More than 120 Palestinians have been killed, dozens injured and hundreds arrested by the Israeli army since the beginning of the year in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Taysir Nasrallah, a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council in Nablus, told Arab News that the closure of the city, the commercial hub and economic capital of the West Bank, has led to a complete paralysis of commercial activity in the city.

“All furniture stores and restaurants are suffering from a drop in the number of customers due to the suspension of the economic cycle in Nablus,” Nasrallah said.

“As an employee, I am not prepared to spend four hours waiting at an Israeli military checkpoint to reach my place of work in Ramallah. After passing through the checkpoint, I may be exposed to attacks from settlers scattered along the road between Nablus and Ramallah.

The siege, at the height of the olive picking season, is also affecting farmers, he added.

The markets of Nablus are mainly frequented by the inhabitants of the surrounding villages and towns. City residents anticipate an Israeli military invasion as part of the crackdown on Areen Al-Osood. Israeli authorities this week canceled entry passes to Israel for 164 relatives of the group’s members.

Yassin Dwaikat, a member of the Nablus Chamber of Commerce, told Arab News that the city’s financial losses amounted to millions of dollars in the first week of the siege, adding that tourism, catering, l hotels, resorts, parks, retail and wholesale, healthcare and education sectors have been affected.

“We cannot currently calculate the exact amount of financial losses, but they are estimated at millions of dollars, and the longer the siege goes on, the more losses people suffer,” he said.

Nablus was subjected to an Israeli economic siege between 2001 and 2007, which was lifted after international intervention.

The Palestinian National Initiative said the current siege “by the occupation army constitutes an aggressive crime and collective punishment that targets our people and endangers their lives and deprives them of a normal life.” The blockade deprives university and school students of education and poses a threat to the lives of patients, especially those with chronic conditions. This deprives farmers of access to their farmland, especially during the olive harvest season. »

Meanwhile, Israel expressed anger over Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh’s visit to the Jenin camp on Sunday, where he offered his condolences to the families of those killed by Israeli forces, and delivered a speech accusing Israeli authorities of using Palestinian blood as a means to make electoral gains on November 1st.

“From the camp of sacrifices, the camp of Jenin, we say that the blood of martyrs will not go in vain…this struggle is a cumulative process, generation after generation, sacrifice after sacrifice,” Shtayyeh said in a message. posted on Facebook.

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