By AFP – 9 Oct 2009
JERUSALEM — Israel has 592 obstacles such as checkpoints, trenches and barriers across the occupied West Bank and a report that Israel was removing 100 such curbs can not be verified, a UN agency said on Friday.
In all, there are 69 permanently staffed checkpoints, 23 partial checkpoints and 500 unstaffed obstacles in the West Bank, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.
This does not include the eight checkpoints on the Green Line between Israel and the Palestinian territory, it said.
The figure was down from a total of 618 registered in August, OCHA said.
In mid-September, the Israeli military announced that it was removing 100 obstacles in the West Bank, but OCHA said it could only confirm the removal of 35.
It said at least 22 obstacles were still in place.
And it was unable to locate another 43 with GPS coordinates provided by the military “either because there was no evidence of obstacles removed at the coordinates provided, or because the coordinates indicated a position outside the West Bank.”
It also said only 39 of the obstacles included in the list of 100 figured on OCHA?s database, “indicating that the significance of the remaining 61, in terms of access and movement, could be minimal.”
Israeli officials have long argued that the heavy restrictions on movement of goods and people in the West Bank are essential to prevent attacks by Palestinian militants.
But they say the curbs have been eased in recent months as part of hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s much-vaunted plan for “economic peace” with the Palestinians.
The International Monetary Fund and World Bank say any viable economic growth will depend on Israel lifting more of the curbs they say have stymied private sector investment in the Palestinian territory for almost a decade.