By Haitham Tamimi

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Hebron, West Bank, Oct 2 (Reuters) A new charity is easing Palestinians' frustration with their regular long waits at Israeli army checkpoints by stocking taxis with books for them to read.

The checkpoints, which Israel says are needed to stop suicide bombers, dot the occupied West Bank, hampering travel between Palestinian towns and villages.

''People spend many hours at checkpoints,'' said Nafiz Asilah, head of the Palestinian Library on Wheels for Non-Violence and Peace, an independent organisation funded by European NGOs.

''We are providing the passengers with books for their benefit and enjoyment during the long wait.'' The scheme started about a week ago, providing some 15 taxi drivers based in the city of Hebron with a bag containing about 10 books, ranging from short stories to quiz books and books about Muslim history and practices.

Passengers get a book at the start of a journey, then hand it back when they arrive. The aim is to expand the campaign to some 50 drivers in other West Bank towns.

Palestinians say the checkpoints amount to collective punishment and are pressing Israel to dismantle some of them ahead of a US-sponsored peace conference expected in November.

REUTERS SZ HT0852

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