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THE CHECKPOINT REGIME: ISRAEL AND THE FRAGMENTATION OF PALESTINIAN SOCIETY

checkpoint

There are 17 permanent checkpoints in the H2 area under full Israeli military control in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), manned by Israeli forces and impeding Palestinian freedom of movement. The official rhetoric of the Israeli government is that these checkpoints serve ‘security purposes’.

In total contrast to this ‘security rationale’, Israeli forces within al-Khalil have often illustrated how the checkpoints rather serve the purpose of humiliating the civilian Palestinian population and dictating their movement. Whereas most of the checkpoints are theoretically in operation 24hrs a day, a checkpoint near Ibrahimi Mosque is closed every evening around 9 – effectively imposing a nightly curfew on the Palestinian population in this area; in order to circumvent the checkpoint, Palestinians would have to take a half-hour long, extremely hilly detour.

Over the last few weeks, soldiers at Shuhada checkpoint have been observed twice sleeping inside the checkpoint. On 12th January 2017 Israeli forces were fast asleep in the checkpoint, thus effectively shutting down any kind of movement for Palestinians, who were stuck outside the turnstile as they waited for the soldiers to wake up and manually open it for every single person. On January 30th, one of the two soldiers supposedly ‘working’ in the checkpoint was asleep again. Both of the soldiers were sitting behind the bullet proof glass, with one of them obviously asleep, in plain sight of anyone crossing the checkpoint. When asked in surprise, if the soldier is sleeping, the soldier that was awake just shrugged his shoulders.

The official rationale of ‘security reasons’ for the implementation of this checkpoint-regime seems pointless. If soldiers are asleep at checkpoints, unaware of their surroundings, how are they really maintaining security? Instead, the checkpoints serve the purpose of fragmentation and humiliation. They lead to the fragmentation of Palestinian civilian neighborhoods: dividing neighborhoods in the same city from each other by fenced off checkpoints, separating families from work, schools, medical care, basic necessities such as cooking gas or a pack of rice. Additionally, the checkpoints perpetuate the all to common humiliation of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli forces; they force Palestinian men to take off their belts ‘for security reasons’ when they pass through the metal detector at the checkpoint – the soldiers clearly  know that the belt is setting of the metal detector and even say so – but force everyone to take it off anyways, merely to humiliate innocent people. The long lines in the rain, where Palestinians are forced by the Israeli forces to ‘wait’ to be allowed to pass the checkpoint without reason destroys their sense of worth and dignity. They often have to stand in the pouring rain with no shelter indefinitely. In this system of humiliation, even a less than a month old baby is a ‘security threat’ and treated as such, without any regard for humanity.

In the end, the checkpoint-regime is solely implemented for this kind of humiliation and fragmentation: aiming to create a coercive environment that will facilitate forcible displacement of the Palestinian population. The checkpoints  facilitate the expansion of existing illegal settlements. It allows Israel to eventually grab enough land to connect a consistent stretch of illegal settlements that are free of the indigenous population, the Palestinians.

(Source / 01.02.2017)

Tags: ICC4Israel

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives.

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