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Palestinians, curfews and self-discipline 

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I do not think that there is any Palestinian in the West Bank and Gaza Strip who has not had experience of curfews in their years of living under the Zionist occupation, especially those old enough to remember the First Intifada (1987-1993). The most volatile areas in terms of confrontations and clashes were under strict curfews for extended periods and suffered major food shortages. Breaks lasted just a few days before the curfew was reimposed, usually after renewed clashes or operations against the occupation army.

The curfew policy allowed Israel to be its normal violent self as searches across neighbourhoods and inside homes were made easier in the absence of people on the streets. Curfews were also used by the Israeli authorities as a punitive measure; they hoped that they would act as a deterrent in areas where protests were organised against the occupation or where an operation targeting security forces was carried out. The punishment for breaking the curfew included arrest, beatings, abuse and, occasionally, being fired upon by the occupation forces.

In those days, the Palestinians looked for ways to sidestep the curfew; groups specialised in monitoring the main routes into their city, village, camp and neighbourhood. They provided cover for other groups to move around, carry out emergency work and check on and assist vulnerable families and individuals. Challenging and breaking the curfew demonstrated the will,........

© Middle East Monitor