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Israel Defense Forces checkpoint

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Jericho checkpoint 2005

An Israel Border Police checkpoint at Jericho's southern entrance, 2005

RamallahCheckpoint

Israeli checkpoint outside the Palestinian city of Ramallah

A Israel Defense Forces checkpoint, usually called an Israeli checkpoint (Hebrew: מחסום‎, machsom, Arabic: حاجز‎, hajez), is a barrier erected by the Israel Defense Forces with the stated aim of enhancing the security of Israel and Israeli settlements and preventing those who wish to do harm from crossing. Most of the checkpoints in the West Bank are not located on the boundary between Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, but rather throughout the West Bank.[1]

IDF checkpoints may be manned by the Israeli Military Police, who perform security checks on Palestinians, the Israel Border Police, and / or other soldiers.

IDF viewpointEdit

West Bank checkpoint by David Shankbone

West Bank checkpoint tower

According to program director Col. Triber Bezalel, the IDF employs humanitarian officers at various checkpoints:

"[to] provide an understanding, helping hand to the Palestinians. Their job is to make life easier for those who cross the borders. To assist women who are holding babies and children, aid the elderly and sick and provide an open ear to Palestinian professionals who have special problems. These are Israel's ambassadors to our Palestinian neighbors and they perform brilliantly".[2]

The IDF has stated that during 2008, it has removed the crossing joins, 140 roadblocks and eight central checkpoints "in an effort to improve freedom of movement for the civilian Palestinian population in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley". [3]

CriticismEdit

Unmanned Israeli checkpoint

Unmanned roadblock between Palestinian towns

Many Palestinians, especially residents of the West Bank, claim that despite the checkpoints' intended use, in practice they violate Palestinians' rights to transportation and other human rights. Palestinian complaints of abuse and humiliation are common: Israel Defense Forces' Judge Advocate General, Maj. Gen. Dr. Menachem Finkelstein, states that "there were many - too many - complaints that soldiers manning checkpoints abuse and humiliate Palestinians and that the large number of complaints 'lit a red light' for him".[4]

The United Nations, in its February 2009 Humanitarian Monitor report, has stated that it is becoming "apparent" that the checkpoint and obstacles, which Israeli authorities justified from the beginning of the second Intifada (September 2000) as a temporary military response to violent confrontations and attacks on Israeli civilians, is evolving into "a more permanent system of control" that is steadily reducing the space available for Palestinian growth and movement for the benefit of the increasing Israeli settler population.[5]

Ambulance controversyEdit

Roadblock in Palestine

Unmanned roadblock in the West Bank

Since a 2002 incident when explosives were found in a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance,[6] medical vehicles have not been immune to searches. Some checkpoints between Palestinian towns in the West Bank require permits for Palestinians to cross them and exceptions are not always made for medical emergencies. Between 2000 and 2006, 68 Palestinian women gave birth at Israeli checkpoints, five of whom died and 35 miscarried.[7] In contrast, a small number of Palestinian diplomats and other individuals are given VIP cards by the Israeli army that effectively allow the carriers free passage through checkpoints.

Flying checkpointsEdit

Selling drinks near checkpoint

An Israeli soldier buys from Palestinian children selling drinks near a checkpoint

According to the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network member Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ)[8], the Israeli military established 121 flying checkpoints in the West Bank and East Jerusalem between October 2006 until April 2007.[9] Their study claimed that most of the flying checkpoints were located in the northern part of the West Bank; in particular, the Nablus Governorate, Tubas Governorate and Jenin Governorate and that Palestinians attempting to cross flying checkpoints could wait anywhere between 20 and 90 minutes, and in some cases, longer.[9]

Ambulance controversyEdit

Medical vehicles might be stopped and are not immune to searches by Israeli soldiers at flying checkpoints. For example, in March 2002, an explosive device was found in a Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) ambulance. The Red Crescent expressed shock at the incident, and began an internal investigation.[6] On January 11, 2004, a PRCS ambulance not carrying patients was stopped and searched at a flying checkpoint near the village of Jit. The ambulance was escorted by military jeep to the Qadomin bus station where after 10 minutes the ambulance crew got their IDs back and were allowed to continue working. In another case, on the same day, an ambulance transporting a diabetic patient to the hospital in Tulkarm was stopped, searched, and allowed to proceed after the companion of the patient was arrested.[10]

List of checkpointsEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

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