HaMoked petitions HCJ on behalf of the head of the Shufa village local council and inhabitants, to order the military to remove roadblocks from the access roads to the village: the roadblocks disproportionately 'infringe on the rights of Shufa’s inhabitants to family life, freedom of movement, education, health, property and life המוקד להגנת הפרט
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03.10.2010
HaMoked petitions HCJ on behalf of the head of the Shufa village local council and inhabitants, to order the military to remove roadblocks from the access roads to the village: the roadblocks disproportionately 'infringe on the rights of Shufa’s inhabitants to family life, freedom of movement, education, health, property and life
HaMoked petitions HCJ on behalf of the head of the Shufa village local council and inhabitants, to order the military to remove roadblocks from the access roads to the village: the roadblocks disproportionately 'infringe on the rights of Shufa’s inhabitants to family life, freedom of movement, education, health, property and life
Shufa village, in the Tulkarem district, is inhabited by some 2,600 people. The village is composed of two parts – the south-east area and the north-west area, known as 'Izbat Shufa, separated by a short stretch of road, which is crossed by an access road to the Avne Hefez settlement. Many families live in both parts of the village such that some family members live in Shufa, while others live in 'Izbat Shufa.

Several years ago, the military blocked the road between the two village areas with permanent dirt obstructions, effectively turning it into a Jews only road, serving only the Avne Hefez settlers and soldiers of the adjacent military base.  In consequence, the car-ride from one part of Shufa to the other now is now 25 km long instead of 1 km. The new detour also goes through the Enav checkpoint, where the villagers are likely to be delayed for a long time. Additionally, the road connecting Shufa to the nearest city Tulkarem, which provides the villagers with schools, hospitals, public institutions and higher education centers, now stretches for 21 km instead of the previous 7 km. Moreover, the military blocked Shufa's north-east exit which leads to the village farmlands, and to the regional oil press serving the area’s residents in Kafr al Labad. Further still, on January 4, 2010, the military installed an iron gate at the only remaining entrance to the village, without providing a reason or presenting a military order to that effect.  

In February 2010, HaMoked appealed on behalf of the head of Shufa's council, to the legal advisor for the West Bank requesting the roadblocks be removed, as they severely interfere with the villagers' normal life. As the military did not reply, HaMoked appealed to the head of the HCJ department at the state attorney's office, requesting her to intervene with military officials in the matter. In the absence of a pertinent reply, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice on August 17, 2010.

In the petition, HaMoked requests to instruct the military to remove the three roadblocks and the iron gate at the village entrance, due to the severe, excessive, and disproportionate infringement on the Shufa residents' rights to family life, freedom of movement, education, health, property and life. HaMoked claims the roadblocks routinely cause harm to patients who struggle to reach hospitals, workers and students en route to their places work and study and relatives who have a difficult time visiting their kin who live so close, yet so far away, in the other part of the village.

HaMoked states that after the roadblocks were set up, all Palestinian-owned lands surrounding  the Avne Hefez settlement, were designated a "special security area"(SSA). The heads of the relevant local councils, among them Shufa, filed a petition with the HCJ against the establishment of the SSA, which the court rejected. In the reasoning provided for the dismissal, the justices stated, inter alia, that "the route of the SSA encircles the Israeli communities. It does not encircle the petitioners' communities, and it does not cut them off other communities, income sources or other essential services". As stated, the main consideration for sanctioning the SSA was security needs, mitigated by attempts to maintain the normal life of the Palestinian residents.

The Shufa villagers' rights which are violated by the roadblocks are fundamental rights under both Israeli and international law, thus, and in view of the recently designated SSA – there are no justifications for leaving the roadblocks in place.
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Shufa village, in the Tulkarem district, is inhabited by some 2,600 people. The village is composed of two parts – the south-east area and the north-west area, known as 'Izbat Shufa, separated by a short stretch of road, which is crossed by an access road to the Avne Hefez settlement. Many families live in both parts of the village such that some family members live in Shufa, while others live in 'Izbat Shufa.

Several years ago, the military blocked the road between the two village areas with permanent dirt obstructions, effectively turning it into a Jews only road, serving only the Avne Hefez settlers and soldiers of the adjacent military base.  In consequence, the car-ride from one part of Shufa to the other now is now 25 km long instead of 1 km. The new detour also goes through the Enav checkpoint, where the villagers are likely to be delayed for a long time. Additionally, the road connecting Shufa to the nearest city Tulkarem, which provides the villagers with schools, hospitals, public institutions and higher education centers, now stretches for 21 km instead of the previous 7 km. Moreover, the military blocked Shufa's north-east exit which leads to the village farmlands, and to the regional oil press serving the area’s residents in Kafr al Labad. Further still, on January 4, 2010, the military installed an iron gate at the only remaining entrance to the village, without providing a reason or presenting a military order to that effect.  

In February 2010, HaMoked appealed on behalf of the head of Shufa's council, to the legal advisor for the West Bank requesting the roadblocks be removed, as they severely interfere with the villagers' normal life. As the military did not reply, HaMoked appealed to the head of the HCJ department at the state attorney's office, requesting her to intervene with military officials in the matter. In the absence of a pertinent reply, HaMoked petitioned the High Court of Justice on August 17, 2010.

In the petition, HaMoked requests to instruct the military to remove the three roadblocks and the iron gate at the village entrance, due to the severe, excessive, and disproportionate infringement on the Shufa residents' rights to family life, freedom of movement, education, health, property and life. HaMoked claims the roadblocks routinely cause harm to patients who struggle to reach hospitals, workers and students en route to their places work and study and relatives who have a difficult time visiting their kin who live so close, yet so far away, in the other part of the village.

HaMoked states that after the roadblocks were set up, all Palestinian-owned lands surrounding  the Avne Hefez settlement, were designated a "special security area"(SSA). The heads of the relevant local councils, among them Shufa, filed a petition with the HCJ against the establishment of the SSA, which the court rejected. In the reasoning provided for the dismissal, the justices stated, inter alia, that "the route of the SSA encircles the Israeli communities. It does not encircle the petitioners' communities, and it does not cut them off other communities, income sources or other essential services". As stated, the main consideration for sanctioning the SSA was security needs, mitigated by attempts to maintain the normal life of the Palestinian residents.

The Shufa villagers' rights which are violated by the roadblocks are fundamental rights under both Israeli and international law, thus, and in view of the recently designated SSA – there are no justifications for leaving the roadblocks in place.
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