RAMALLAH/NABLUS, Jan. 8 (Xinhua) -- Israeli forces shut down Monday access to two West Bank villages, near Nablus city, by placing earth mounds, according to Palestinian sources.
Ghassan Daghlas, who is in charge of the documentation of the settlements activity in the north of the West Bank told Xinhua that the two villages are Osarin village, of nearly 3,500 residents and Awarta village, where nearly 7,000 Palestinians live.
The entrance of Awarta village was shut down by closing a gate located near Huwara, where Israeli soldiers are stationed in a military checkpoint disconnecting the north of the West Bank from its center.
Governor of Nablus Akram Rajoub condemned the Israeli measures. He told Xinhua that this represents "collective punishment" against Palestinians.
He added "this is unjustified and comes as part of the Israeli army's policy in backing settlers while imposing restrictions on Palestinian citizens."
Palestinian sources said that the Israeli army arrested at least 17 Palestinians in scattered pre-dawn raids into West Bank areas, including storming some houses.
Israeli army spokesperson said that those arrested were "wanted" to Israel.