West Bank Merchants Protest New Security Measures Restricting Commercial Traffic
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West Bank Merchants Protest New Security Measures Restricting Commercial Traffic

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West Bank Arab merchants have protested to the military government over new security measures restricting commercial traffic with Jordan which, they say, will create economic hardships. The measures, to take effect Tuesday, will require trucks carrying goods from Jordan to unload as soon as they cross the Allenby or Damiya bridges to the West Bank. Their cargoes will be reloaded on other trucks after inspection by Israeli guards. West Bank produce bound for Jordan will also have to be unloaded for inspection and reloaded before crossing the bridges Israeli authorities believe the explosives which killed 12 persons and injured 55 in the Machane Yehudah vegetable market in Jerusalem last Friday might have been hidden under goods coming from Jordan. They went off in a parked car which, while bearing Israeli license plates, may have come from the West Bank or Jordan.

The Nablus Chamber of Commerce complained in a telegram to Defense Minister Moshe Dayan today that the transfer of cargoes from truck to truck would be costly and increase the price of West Bank produce shipped to Jordan as well as Jordanian merchandise imported to the West Bank. They said also that drivers who hitherto drove directly between the West Bank and Amman would lack employment. Similar protests were lodged by the chambers of commerce of other West Bank towns.

The new regulations will not bar travel between the West Bank and Jordan but travellers will have to cross the bridges on foot. Travel permits to Jordan will be issued for shorter periods of time. No restrictions will be imposed on West Bank workers entering Israel for employment; at last count there were several thousand with entry permits and their number is expected to increase with the citrus-packing season. West Bank Arabs visiting Israel for other purposes will be issued one day passes only instead of the 30-day passes issued previously, according to Brig. Gen. Raphael Vardi, military governor of the West Bank.

He told mayors and merchants in West Bank towns that there would be greater restrictions placed on movement within the occupied West Bank itself and that the area would be broken up into zones for tighter control. Roadblocks will be set up on many roads that hitherto have had free-flowing traffic. More checkpoints will be set up within Israel itself, and there will be surprise searches on Israel-West Bank roads. The various steps are expected to limit the free flow of commodities and human traffic that begun shortly after the June, 1967 war and which became a tacitly recognized condition between the two nations which are still technically at war.

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