JERICHO, April 23, 2023, Sunday (WAFA) – The ancient tourist destination of Jericho in the occupied West Bank is under a strangling, unjustified Israeli military siege for the second day in a row, at a time of year when the city draws tens of thousands of domestic visitors for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
Due to the Israeli military’s closure of the city during the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, which made it extremely difficult for both tourists and locals to enter or leave the city, the city, which last year witnessed the most active tourist activity in many years, was transformed this year into a giant prison.
The arbitrary restrictions put in place by the occupation authorities, according to Abdul Karim Sidr, the mayor of Jericho, “dealt a heavy blow to the tourist activity in Jericho, which usually attracts tourists during the holiday seasons, denying tourists access to the various destinations available in the city.”
“There is no clear justification for this,” he continued, “and it [Israel] is imposing a siege on Jericho for no reason.”
Many local tourist attractions, including parks and gardens, are closed due to the Israeli siege, which mostly affects companies in the city that significantly rely on the holiday seasons.
Meanwhile, the oppressive Israeli checkpoints at all of the city’s entrances are causing intolerable delays for travelers and those intending to travel overseas through the Karama border crossing with Jordan, who must first pass through Jericho.
“This is an Israeli policy of collective punishment targeting the people of Jericho, its refugee camps, and its visitors,” Sidr continued.
Iyad Hamdan, director general of the Jericho Ministry of Tourism, told WAFA that as a result of the closures imposed by the Israeli occupation authorities, the city, which is one of the most popular tourist destinations during the holidays, is seeing a sharp decline in the number of visitors who used to enter the city by the thousands each year.
“The city used to receive thousands of vehicles for merchants and travelers, especially tourists who visit the city’s tourist destinations or those who pass through it,” said Tayseer Hamida, the head of the Jericho Chamber of Commerce and Industry. But with the decline in tourism, the city has suddenly lost one of its most significant sources of income.
According to Hamida, the city’s economy, which is dependent on agriculture and tourism, has suffered significantly as a result of the Israeli blockade. This explains the drop in Jericho’s tourism as well as the collapse in vegetable prices.
This is a strategy employed by Israel to firstly target Palestinian economic activity.