Palestinians in the West Bank live in the shadow of the war in Gaza

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In the occupied West Bank, Palestinians live in the shadow of the ongoing war in Gaza. For them, this has led to more raids and arrests, tighter security restrictions, settler violence and economic unrest. We spent time with two Palestinians whose lives and livelihoods are being reshaped by the war and who worry that some of these changes will be long-lasting. 29-year-old taxi driver and guide Laith Al-Muti now waits all day here at one of the Israeli-controlled checkpoints in Bethlehem. But nowadays hardly any visitors come by. Thirteen kilometers away, in the Tel Rumeida district of Hebron, Wijdan Ziadeh’s life is also at a standstill. At the site of an Israeli settlement, Palestinians in the area say their freedom of movement, which was limited before the war, has felt even more restricted since October 7. Control over security in Hebron is divided into two zones. H1 is operated by the Palestinian Authority and H2, where Ziadeh lives, is operated by the Israeli army. The Israeli military told The Times that security measures have increased in the West Bank as part of a response to terrorist operatives, including Hamas, and that its forces are in Tel Rumeida to help ensure the safety of all residents. But Ziadeh lives in fear of scenes of settler aggression, such as this one captured by a nearby Palestinian resident. Ziadeh says her settler neighbors have become even more aggressive toward her and her two sons since the war. Across the West Bank, incidents of settler violence against Palestinians have increased in the aftermath of October 7, according to the UN, which recorded nearly 950 attacks in June 2024. Palestinians in the area say the Israeli army is there to protect the Palestinians. settlers and that settler violence against Palestinians goes largely unpunished, a decades-long pattern detailed in a recent Times investigation. Back in Bethlehem, Laith also fears for the future. Places where he used to frequent tourists, such as the Church of the Nativity, are now empty. Al-Muti and Ziadeh say they don’t know what’s next for them or others in the West Bank.

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