West Bank villagers decry collective punishment | Israeli–Palestinian conflict

Kobar, Occupied West Bank – It was Waed Barghouti’s first day back on the job, driving a shared taxi from the Palestinian village of Kobar to Ramallah and back again.

For the past four days, he had stayed at home in Kobar, after the Israeli military imposed a closure on the village in the wake of a deadly stabbing attack at a nearby Jewish settlement on July 21. The attacker, 19-year-old Omar al-Abed, who killed three Israelis and injured a fourth in the attack, came from Kobar.

Approaching the village from the southeast on a hot summer morning, Barghouti slowed his taxi to a crawl before a series of new obstacles. The Israeli military had dug down through the asphalt and rock below, and then dumped three separate metre-high piles of rubble on the road, blocking traffic from entering or leaving.

At night, young men from the village had built a dirt track for vehicles around the obstacles, enabling traffic to pass. Barghouti cautiously negotiated the three bumpy workarounds and sped into the village.

“For the first few days, it was crazy,” he told Al Jazeera. “It felt like the Israeli army was raiding the village all the time; they could come at any time. They blocked the road and stopped people leaving and entering the village. I stayed at home and did not go to work.”


On the eastern side of the village, Omar al-Abed’s extended family lives in a row of two and three-storey homes. On a recent afternoon, in front of the final house in the row, men gathered under a blue tarpaulin, while a group of women sat together around the side.

Posters of Omar decorated the wall, even though he did not die in the attack; he remains in Israeli custody. The mood was sombre, and Omar’s family expressed shock at what had transpired.

“I did not raise him for 20 years to do something like that,” Omar’s father, Abed, told Al Jazeera. “I don’t support such a thing.”

Omar’s uncle, Ali, added: “If I had known that my son was going to carry out an operation, I…

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