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Palestinians in West Bank have ‘hit rock bottom’ as Gaza war drags on

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As the Gaza war enters its eighth month, Palestinians living in the Israeli-occupied West Bank continue to face Onerous restrictions, economic hardship and increased military presence ——Some people worry that these changes may become the new normal.

Throughout the West Bank, daily life – which was restricted until October 7 – has been complicated by a variety of factors. These include regular raids and arrests by the Israeli army, emboldened settlers, and regulations that hamper economic development, such as the cancellation of permits to work in Israel and the increase of internal checkpoints and roadblocks, which complicate movement throughout the territory.

The Israeli military said there had been a “significant increase” in terror attacks in the West Bank since the start of the war, and told The New York Times that arrests of suspected “terrorists” and the strategic deployment of security forces were necessary “to improve the safety of all residents of the region.”

We spent time with two Palestinians in the West Bank Find out how they are affected by these changes.

Bethlehem, the city’s economy Depends heavily on tourismfew come to visit places like the Church of the Nativity, which is said to be the birthplace of Jesus.

Laith Al-Muti, 29, a local tour guide and taxi driver, waits every day at the main checkpoint from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, hoping to attract local passengers. Al-Muti and other drivers say they now earn a fraction of what they made before the war.

“I don’t know how long people will have energy,” Almouti said. “I might make 20 or 40 shekels ($5 to $11) driving a taxi, but some people haven’t made a shekel in seven months.”

Thirteen miles away in the Tell Rumeida area of ​​Hebron, 56-year-old widow Widjan Ziadeh and her sons live in fear.

Hebron is divided into two areas – H1, where security is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, and H2, where security is controlled by the Israeli army.

Tel Rumeida, located in H2 is surrounded by Israeli-controlled checkpoints. Since the war began, Palestinians in the area say they have been subject to increasing restrictions and difficulties.

Tell Rumeida is an Israeli settlement where Palestinians in the area say some settlers behave violently and aggressively, and tensions have persisted for decades.

Ziad said her son Faris, 20, was almost completely blind in one eye after a settler attack in 2022, but the family never filed a criminal complaint with Israeli authorities because Limited expectations of justice.

For now, Ziad is determined to stay and prevent her house from being taken over by settlers.

“We will not leave. This is our land and we will stay here,” she said. “We will live and die in misery.”

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