Unmistakably, Qalandia Checkpoint

On Fridays in Ramadan, the month of fasting and spiritual activities, the Israeli military makes special arrangements for Palestinians living on the “other” side of The Wall, who seek and who long to go for prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the major holy sites for Muslims worldwide, which has special significance during the month of Ramadan.

In recent years, because of the pushing and shoving that the arrangements always entail, there have been special entrances created separating women from men before even getting into the checkpoint zone.

Every year the arrangements are slightly different. There are no longer Israeli soldiers on horseback riding into the crowds of Palestinians desperate to get through to Jerusalem. The last use of tear gas fired into the fasting worshippers was two years ago. But they arrangements haven’t come near the point of removing altogether the difficulties, stress, uncertainties and humiliation of having to go through the ordeal of struggling to deal with the crowd and conditions to pass through this military checkpoint into an unknown [the Jerusalem area, cut off by The Wall and Israeli military checkpoints for more than a decade] — all while fasting [including not drinking even water] in the high sun and heat of summer.

Here are some photos published here by the privately-owned Maan News Agency in Bethlehem.  The photos are in a group of shots taken  by Mohamad Torokman /Ammar Awad of Reuters:
Qalandia Checkpoint - special entrance for women on 2nd Friday in Ramadan - Maan images photos by Reuters

Anxiety on women's faces as they reach the point where they must pass through the first row of soldiers at Qalandia Checkpoint on the second Friday in Ramadan 2012 - Maan images photos by Reuters

This second Friday of Ramadan, the Israeli women [veteran observers of the checkpoint scene, and Jewish] from Machsom Watch were there, as were observers from the World Council of Churches’ Eccumenical Accompaniement Program in Palestine + Israel, EAPPI.

But, for the first time, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs was absent from the scene — following the Israeli Government’s recent decision to question their activities, and their staff, as we have previously reported here.

The Israeli campaign is working.

    UPDATE: Meanwhile, Phil Weiss, founder of the Mondoweiss blog, wrote yesterday: “I flew into Ben Guiron from Newark and my flight was mostly Jewish… The shuttle I rode into Jerusalem had ten passengers, mostly American Jews, two binational Israeli American girls, a Christian tourist and an international aid type. This last passenger was dropped at Qalandiya checkpoint to go on to Ramallah. ‘Is this a hospital?’ the orthodox girl in the front row asked. A reminder that the Palestinian reality is sealed off from Israelis, and also that Qalandiya is a vast bureaucratic complex in benign disguise, a border crossing that keeps the subject population Over There. ‘A lot of the Arabs throw rocks, that is why they put this up’, an older Jew who fought in the 48 war explained to his wife as we passed along the wall … I have been through Qalandiya twice in the last day and cannot convey what a dreary oppressive experience this is. Long lines of people made to walk in a wide muddy circle past the neverending re-arranged concrete walls, one of which has Fuck You as an eloquent graffiti. The soldiers stand at huge concrete cubes that the bulldozers have placed just so, a couple-hips’-width apart, and stop us at three points on our way in. Women and men are separated, in a fashion that has ghoulish echoes of the worst moments of Jewish history … While in the Old City, in the Ramadan crowds that inch packed and dangerous toward the mosque, there are always men at the side spraying water on as you walk by. Tossing it from bottles, spraying it with sprayers, to cool you down. A lovely gesture of community, in which I am included…” Phil posted this here


Because the Qalandia Checkpoint still stands …

Because the disgraceful Qalandia Checkpoint still stands — a monstrosity that defies easy description, mostly because of disbelief that anything could be deliberately made so bad — as we enter a new year, we will call attention to it, yet again.

Today, we will leave aside the awfulness of all other passage through Qalandia Checkpoint, and focus just on the issue of pedestrian crossing of Palestinians from the West Bank of those who need to be at work, or who have any other appointment early in the day on the other side.

Here is a video compilation comparing the situation facing of people [yes, human beings] waiting to get through the checkpoint in January 2008, and again on another morning in December 2011, nearly 4 years later. The video — prepared by friends at Machsom Watch, the organization of Israeli women for human rights — was posted on the Mondoweiss blog on 24 December by Adam Horowitz [Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net] here.

It can also be watched on Youtube here:

Horowitz wrote about it on his post on Mondoweiss, simply saying: “As you watch this video keep in mind that the Qalandia checkpoint is not a border crossing between Israel and the West Bank. Like most Israeli checkpoints in the occupied territories, Qalandia is located squarely in Palestinian territory”…

For Israel, Qalandia Checkpoint — and a stretch of the road further north going from Jerusalem towards Ramallah — is within the boundaries of the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality” — a unilateral composite extension of “Jerusalem” in late June 1967, several weeks after the Israeli military conquest of the area in the June 1967 Six-Day war.

For Palestinians, for the United Nations, and for most European and many other countries, Qalandia Checkpoint is within the West Bank — as defined by the UN-negotiated cease-fire lines of 1949 [later known as the Green Line], which is not quite exactly, but still largely, the same line across which Israeli and Jordanian forces faced each other until 4 June 1967.

As such, according to the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory“, posted here, in English + French, which was developed in response to a request from the United Nations General Assembly after Israel started building The Wall in mid-2002, and which was handed down by the ICJ in the Hague on 9 July 2004:

    “In the light of the material before it, the Court is not convinced that the construction of the wall along the route chosen was the only means to safeguard the interests of Israel against the peril which it has invoked as justification for that construction.[141.] The fact remains that Israel has to face numerous indiscriminate and deadly acts of violence against its civilian population. It has the right, and indeed the duty, to respond in order to protect the life of its citizens. The measures taken are bound nonetheless to remain in conformity with applicable international law.

    [142.] In conclusion, the Court considers that Israel cannot rely on a right of self-defence (or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall resulting from the considerations mentioned in paragraphs 122 and 137 above. The Court accordingly finds that the construction of the wall, and its associated régime, are contrary to international lawContinue reading Because the Qalandia Checkpoint still stands …

A raid down the hill, last Sunday — this doesn't happen all the time, like this

I was driving to Ramallah last Sunday, a sunny day, about 1:30 in the afternoon.

The traffic is usually bad at that time in the narrow winding pot-hold streets of Dahiet al-Bariid, where there are two important private schools letting out students at the same time, just as students from the Israeli-run East Jerusalem public school system are coming home at the same hour, more or less.

You really have to plan your day carefully in Palestinian areas, and particularly to know when schools are letting out students.

But, last Sunday it was worse than usual.

Dahiet al-Bariid is a triangle of land in north Jerusalem, divided in two by the Israeli-built Wall which comes straight down the middle of what used to be the main street between Jerusalem and Ramallah, carving out an Israeli-run industrial zone [Atarot] on one side, and closing in the Palestinian suburb of Ar-Ram on the other side.   The route of the wall would have enclosed most of the area’s hill, Jabal as-Sumoud  — except that the Rosary Sister’s School and various other Christian institutions saw what was about to happen as the construction proceeded confidently and inexorably south.  They petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court, and said they did not want to be cut off from Jerusalem, which was the center of their faith and life here.  The Supreme Court granted the petition, and in compliance with this Court decision, the Israeli Army re-routed the Wall sharply right at the lowest point in the area, to make a right turn and head up the hill, several hundred meters more north than apparently first planned.

Though the Supreme Court ruling has been made, the Israeli military has not yet incorporated the area into the Greater Jerusalem Municipality it defined in late June 1967… and most of this area is regarded, at least in military terms, as a “Seam Zone”.

When I got down to the traffic circle at the bottom of the steep hill, I suddenly saw why everything was blocked: in the midst of the normal chaos and traffic jam, there was a major Israeli border police raid going on.

It was not immediately clear which building was targetted — the building with multiple internal apartments separately housing all members of East Jerusalem’s most successful family of money-changers, whose office is located in downtown East Jerusalem’s main thoroughfare, Salah ad-Din Street, run down and crowded, un-posh to be sure, but the local equivalent of the Champs-Elysees, or Fifth Avenue.

Or, was it the office building next door, where a number of NGOs, lawyers, and other East Jerusalem entities have space?

There were many, many vehicles, and many, many men in combat uniforms with big guns standing out on the street. What looked like an armoured jeep was parked right up in the middle of the traffic circle, with a big soldier in combat posture + gun standing beside it, looking up at one of the buildings. Alongside the road, on what might in other places actually be sidewalks, there were more military vehicles, and more armed men in uniforms of various colors. What was going on? And, why?

It took me several days and a number of phone calls to find out.

Before the news was published, one experienced attorney told me it was just a “tax raid”, which happens regularly — it’s just that, to outsiders, he said, when these “tax raids” are in East Jerusalem, “they look like Chuck Norris movies”.

Finally, I called the offices of the Arab Studies Society — formerly, under the late Faisal Husseini, based in his Orient House further downtown, but relocated to Dahiet al-Bariid after Israeli authorities shut down the building housing a number of Husseini-backed organizations. Someone in that office said that the Border Police raided a nearby office rented out to the Northern Islamic Alliance, and arrested a man inside [Sheikh Raed Salah, who has Israeli citizenship and who is now fighting a deportation decision in Britain, is a member of the group].

News agencies and the Israeli media did not report the story right away. It took a couple of days, and the reports varied. It’s not clear why there was a delay in reporting.

Most of the few media reports said that not just one but two, or maybe even three, offices had been raided, and shut down [one of the offices was not in this area, but in Shu’afat village, more south, and closer to downtown Jerusalem], and one or more people arrested.

By Tuesday — two days after the raid — Agence France Presse reported that Israeli national police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told them: ” ‘The Israeli police closed down two offices… that were suspected of being used by the Hamas and the PFLP’ … The office which was allegedly being used by Hamas was in the northern Dahiyat al-Barid neighbourhood, while the premises being used by the PFLP were located in Shuafat, police said. But Khaled Zabarqa, who runs Jerusalem for Development, a local housing association which is based in the Dahiyat al-Barid office, said he was ‘surprised’ by the move and denied the organisation had any ties with Hamas. ‘We have no links to Hamas. We are a development institution which closes the (social) gaps left by the (Jerusalem) municipality in the Arab sector, which carries out renovations and helps families’, he told AFP, saying the organisation was seeking legal redress over the closure. ‘We are operating in accordance with the law’.” This story is posted here.

Haaretz, normally considered a left-liberal media platform, took a more serious and alarmist approach, reporting with a perfectly straight face that “Israeli police forces on Tuesday raided three buildings in Jerusalem allegedly being used by Palestinian militants for illegal activities. The raids were carried out based on intelligence gathered by the Shin Bet security services. Two of the buildings, loacted Dahiyat al-Barid neighborhood in north Jerusalem, were suspected of serving as a center for Hamas militants, while a third building in the Shuafat neighborhood of East Jerusalem was allegedly being used by militants from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Officers from the Border Police and Jerusalem district police found numerous documents in the buildings, indicating that illegal activity had indeed taken place there. Israel Police Commissioner Yonatan Danino signed an order immediately to seal the documents away for a month. The three buildings have been shut down The raids come two months after Jerusalem Police shut down a kindergarten in the Abu Tor neighborhood, citing classified intelligence that the site ‘was meant to serve as a place of terror activity’.” This Haaretz report is posted here.

UPDATE: More than a week later, Haaretz gave more details, and reported [on 1 November] — or, perhaps asserted is a better word, that “The first institution to close down was a Jerusalem branch of Al-Quds Development which was run by the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, headed by Sheikh Ra’ad Salah. According to intelligence, the branch was run in cooperation with senior Hamas operatives who are citizens of East Jerusalem [n.b. — excuse me, but no one is a citizen of East Jerusalem, which is still not an independent state. Israelis are often a bit careless with this word, at least in relation to East Jerusalem, where most Palestinians have permanent resident status, but no citizenship at all — and if they obtain any citizenship other than Israeli or Jordanian, their residency status is revoked]. The second institution was the company Jobs without Borders. According to intelligence collected by the Shin Bet, the company was operated by Hamas and the company directors are Hamas officials, citizens of East Jerusalem. Last, the security forces closed down the offices of Sa’ad, an educational development company in Kafr Aqab in northern East Jerusalem. According to the Shin Bet, the institution belongs to Hamas, which has been active in the neighborhood for more than a year and a half. The company’s managers are prominent Hamas officials, also residents of East Jerusalem”. This report, a week after the raid, is posted here

By chance, a Machsom [Hebrew word for “checkpoint”] Watch team was on its way, around 3 pm on the Sunday of the raid, to their usual observation tour at Qalandia checkpoint, perhaps a kilometer north of where the raid took place.

The women on the team, experienced veterans who have seen all kinds of things at checkpoints and along the roads in the West Bank, as well as at military courts and prisons, were astonished. They stopped their car, and got out to take a look…

Tamar Fleishman, a member of the team, reported that the raid took several hours, and she and her colleagues stayed until it was over.

Here is her account, with her photos:

    “During the afternoon hours a group of Mistaarvim [n.b. – Israeli undercover plainclothes police units, ususally of Arab origin. who are initially assumed to be “locals”] who had their faces covered, protected by the Yasam [the Special Forces of the Israeli Border Police], broke the office door of attorney Kaadan at Dahiat El Barid.

    Within seconds Attorney Kaadan found himself on the floor with two rifles’ barrels pointing at his head. His breath and complexion were back to normal only several hours after the attack. The invaders dismantled the alarm system, sprayed black paint on the security cameras, inspected the files and cabinets [n.b. – throwing a lot of things around in the process and creating a mess] and left the place after three hours and ten minutes.

    They took away with them:
    1. Two detainees (a person who works at the office and a client).
    2. The office computers.
    3. The memory from the cameras and the alarm system”.

Report and photos by Machsom Watch’s Tamar Fleishman, on the
23 October mid-afternoon raid of what Israeli police later said was
a “Hamas office” in north Jerusalem.

What is the occupation like? A new report by Machsom Watch from Jaba checkpoint

What is the occupation like?

Israel’s belligerent military occupation of West Bank land and Palestinian lives continues in full force, with all its terrible arbitrariness.

Arbitrariness is one of the main characteristics of the Israeli occupation, as is often said by the Israeli women who do the volunteer reporting that is the work of their organization, Machsom (Checkpoint) Watch

It often comes down to one lower-mid-ranking Israeli soldier, with his personal mood on that day and at that particular moment, and a sense that he is in power, that the Palestinians are dangerous but annoying children who definitely have less status and almost no rights, and anything can happen — as Machsom  Watch shows in a brand-new report:

Last Sunday [27 March] at Jaba (or Jaba’a) checkpoint – between the cul-de-sac that Qalandia checkpoint has become for Palestinian residents of this tiny corner of the earth in the West Bank, and the intersection straddled by the Israeli settlement of Adam:

“The transcript of Roni’s conversation with the checkpoint commander:

“Why is the young man sitting here in handcuffs?”
“He is a suspect.”
“What is he suspected of?”
“I’ll send him off in a moment”.
“So he isn’t a suspected anymore?”
“No, he is a suspect!”
“Then how do you know that he isn’t suspected of anything anymore?”
“I get my orders from above”.
“Did you send his ID number to some sort of an institution for examination?”
“No. I’ll send him off home in a moment…”

Sitting near the checkpoint was a man, he was leaning against the wall, his eyes were covered by cloth and his hands were pulled back, strapped tightly in plastic handcuffs.

From the evidence we gathered it seems that the arrest of this person was a local initiative and not an order from above. There was no ‘bingo’ and we also didn’t hear the most common alibi, which can never be confirmed: ‘The suspect is requeste’ for interrogation by the GSS’ [Israel’s General Security Services, or Shin Bet or Shabak]. The evidence to the fact that the soldier didn’t really have a reason to keep this person at the checkpoint is that the young man’s ID wasn’t there and his personal background wasn’t checked. It was probably an incidental arrest, the victim was taken from his home that afternoon by the Nahal soldiers who man the checkpoint. What for, and why? – Was it just for their plain amusement? – For the sake of the actual abuse? Or perhaps, they did it out of boredom, of which the soldiers at the checkpoints regularly complain?

It was clear from the person’s pose that he was in agony.

He stood with his back arched in an attempt to ease the pressure. The overly tight plastic handcuffs cut into his flesh, causing a swelling that made it hard to release him. The soldiers tried to insert a knife between the cuffs and his flesh for over ten minutes, but there wasn’t a crack to be found, as if they were of one flesh.

The soldiers wanted the man to be quiet, and quiet he was. He just stomped his feet as the pain from the insertion of the knife became hard to bear. When he was finally released and sent off, he was told not to speak to us. The young man exposed his hands before our cameras, mumbled a couple of words and ran away down the hill towards the village

Because of two Jewish women who had arrived there by chance at the right time, the man had been released on this occasion. Who will protect him and the many others like him on other occasions, other days, and who will be there at the dead of night?”

Report by Machsom Watch – the full original is posted on the Machsom Watch website here.

Machsom Watch at work – at Qalandia Checkpoint

This short film focuses on Machsom Watch’s veteran observer Tamar Fleishman, and her work at the Qalandia Checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah:

This short film, made by Danielle Shworts, actually makes Qalandia Checkpoint look much, much better than it really is…

Qalandia – you have to see it to believe it…

…but you still won’t really feel the oppressive heat pounding down under the sun’s rays …

Machsom Watch  [Checkpoint Watch] – a group of Israeli women against the occupation and for human rights, who monitor the situation at Israeli military checkpoints and Israeli military courts in the occupied Palestinian West Bank – have put together this extraordinary video of Palestinian women in an extreme situation, who are being treated as… well, not quite as human beings.

One of the videos they have posted on their site shows the situation in the women’s line — the women’s line: yes, women and men are separated by the Israeli forces even before going into the Checkpoint area — at the disgraceful Qalandia Checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah on a Friday in Ramadan last year, September 2009.

In Ramadan, adults fast — and abstain even from water — from two hours before dawn until sunset.

These women are trying to get from their homes all over the central and northern West Bank, into Jerusalem, to pray at the third holiest site in Islam, which is Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of East Jerusalem.

During Ramadan, the Muslim faithful long to pray in Al-Aqsa.

This documentary is mesmerizing — and horrible to watch.

The crowding, pushing, shoving, and general pandemonium would have been completely unbearable by themselves. But it was also near 100 degrees in the blazing heat.

Because the women are wearing long and heavy clothing, as well as tight headcoverings, the intense heat at midday would be quite unbearable. And, they are fasting, so they will not drink water.

If it is possible to say one part was worse than another, the worst part was at the end, when the women who could not get through Qalandia Checkpoint lined up to pray in the little shade there was, created by The Wall… facing Jerusalem, right up against The Wall.

It’s on the Machsom Watch website, here — scroll down the page to the report dated 17/09/2009.

But, when I tried to watch this video on Youtube, here, to get the correct code to embed it on this page, I found this warning, instead: “This video or group may contain content that is inappropriate for some users, as flagged by YouTube’s user community“…

A Machsom Watch video.
Filmed by Hadass Shuve and Merav Amir.
Edited by Hadass Shuve.
Translation from Arabic by Hasan Masri.

The Fourth Friday in Ramadan at Qalandia checkpoint: Segur (CLOSED) + Machsom Watch Report on the Third Friday

On Thursday, the IDF announced a “total closure” of the West Bank until “after” (whatever that means) the Jewish New Year holiday of Rosh Hashona.

On Friday, the fourth and last Friday of the sacred month of Ramadan, there were relatively few Palestinians at the main Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem — but there were still thousands.

And many of them were people with permits to go to Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City of East Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam, where nearly every Palestinian Muslim longs to be, as much as possible, during Ramadan. Many of these people came, with their permits, from far reaches in the northern West Bank, from Nablus, and Jenin, as well as from Tulkarem and elsewhere — only to find that their permits were no longer valid.

They were not told why.

One of the veteran observers from Machsom Watch (Checkpoint Watch, an organization of Israeli women who monitor the abuses at the checkpoints) explained that all the permits were cancelled when IDF the closure order was given on Thursday.

But the soldiers didn’t even bother to say this. All they said was SEGUR — “closed”, as in “completely closed”.

Continue reading The Fourth Friday in Ramadan at Qalandia checkpoint: Segur (CLOSED) + Machsom Watch Report on the Third Friday

A return visit to the checkpoint that does not exist

Two months after the Israeli Defense Forces announced at the beginning of June that it was removing the Atara checkpoint, north of Ramallah, it was still there today.

I went with a team of three Israeli women from Machsom Watch [or “Checkpoint Watch” – women against the occupation and for human rights], to see for myself.

Atara - Bir Zeit checkpoint north of Ramallah in the West Bank - June 2009

Young Israeli soldiers sweltering in the heat were in the watchtower. Others were on the ground inside a compound formed of concrete blocks, where a generator was making some noise.

When they saw the Machsom Watch women, the soldiers in the watchtower shouted: “Oh, it’s those people from Peace Now [another Israeli anti-occupation group], they’re back again!”

The soldiers shouted down to the women that they knew they were responsible for an article about thempublished last Wednesday on the Israel website Walla — and they shouted that they had no intention to give the women another story this week.

They threatened to lodge a complaint against one of the Machsom Watch ladies who was taking pictures, because, they said, she was taking pictures of a “military installation”.

Then, someone shouted down through a loudspeaker that it was a closed military zone — one through which there just happened to be a steady stream of Palestinian civilian road traffic — and ordered the Machsom Watch ladies to leave.

The Machsom Watch team leader laughed it off, saying that the soldiers had to show a written order, which they had not done.

A brief history of the movement posted on its website, Machsom Watch explains that “Legal advice assured us (and its worth remembering) that the army has no right to prevent citizens from being present in the area of the checkpoint unless a closed military area is declared and a document signed by the area commander or other senior officer presented”. This can be read in full here.

The main page of the group’s website says that “MachsomWatch, in existence since 2001, is an organisation of peace activist Israeli women against the Israeli Occupation of the territories and the systematic repression of the Palestinian nation. We call for Palestinian freedom of movement within their own territory and for an end to the Occupation that destroys Palestinian society and inflicts grievous harm on Israeli society” — see here

The soldiers then said they were calling their commander, and one stood in the watchtower window with a phone at his ear. One solder came out of the gate and took our pictures.

The soldiers were completely preoccupied with the presence of the Machsom Watch team, and paid no attention whatsoever to the passing Palestinians.

If it looks like a checkpoint- the chain of spikes was rolled up and placed behind the cemented post, the pillbox was standing like a phallic sentry on the highest spot, the lights were turned on even though the sun was blazing in the sky.
And if it sounds like a checkpoint- from a distance we could hear the soldiers yelling.
Even if all the media and all the newspaper say the checkpoint has been taken down- it is still a checkpoint.

The soldiers, some were seen standing behind the pillbox window and the others hurried to hid from us (or from our camera), who were inside the confined area yelled out to us, and then later started using the megaphone.

Here are some selected quotes, as published in the Machsom Watch team report of 26 July:
“Here they are, those women from ‘Peace Now’ just arrived…”
– “Yalla, come on, get lost. What is there for you to take a photo of?…”
-” Yalla, go home… Yalla, go home to your kids, your grandkids… Yalla, go on…”.
-“This is a military zone, you can’t be here!”
-“This is a military zone, you aren’t allowed to take pictures!”
And the best one:
-“Isn’t it enough you made an article on us?!- You want another one?- We’re not giving you another one!…”

The story published last week in Walla was also covered on this blog here.

Now, MachsomWatch has released a video, with a photo montage of the earlier moments, and footage of the final confrontation and then, at last, after the sun had set, the release of the mini-bus driver, five hours after the bus and its passengers were detained at this checkpoint-that-does-not exist.

The video can also be found on the Machsom Watch website,
here .

The story: in an extraordinary confrontation at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank on 12 July, a group of Palestinian passengers was detained from 15h15 (3:15 pm) until 8:45 pm, and subjected to a lengthy period of prolonged searching, apparently as a punitive measure — and not for security reasons, unless the concept of security requires a totally cowed and intimidated submissive population.

Continue reading A return visit to the checkpoint that does not exist

The Day of the Palestinian revolt at Atara checkpoint – the checkpoint that does not exist,

What is it like at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank?

Middle East peace negotiators should know, if they don’t already, that what really happens at Israeli checkpoints is not just a matter of obstruction of movement with purely economic consequences.

Atara - Bir Zeit checkpoint 12 July 09 - sitting in the thorns

In a recent report, Machsom Watch, a group of Israeli women who observe the behavior of Israeli forces at Palestinian checkpoints in the West Bank, have documented a Palestinian civilian mini-revolt during an abusive delay at the Atara/Bir Zeit checkpoint just north of Ramallah on Sunday 12 July.

One note: a common Palestinian reaction these days — it seems to be the only defense — to an inappropriate show of Israeli force in an normal civilian situation is a mocking smile and a quiet joke shared with other Palestinians trapped in the same moment — such as this group of young men who were separated from the other passengers on the bus whose story will be told below.

Atara - Bir Zeit checkpoint - 12 July 2009 - young men being detained separately from the other passengers

Here is the story of the bus whose passengers annoyed the soldiers at the checkpoint that does not exist

Atara - Bir Zeit checkpoint - 12 July 2009 - the back of the bus being inspected first

Atara - Bir Zeit checkpoint 12 July 2009 - photo by Tamar Fleishman

Atara - Bir Zeit checkpoint 12 July 2009

This, as Machsom Watch stresses, is a checkpoint that the Israeli military has said it dismantled. Machsom Watch calls it “the checkpoint that does not exist”.

Continue reading The Day of the Palestinian revolt at Atara checkpoint – the checkpoint that does not exist,

Machsom Watch: "We tell only about things we have personally seen"

Yesterday, in our post on Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s remarks at a literary festival in London, it was reported that he praised the ladies of Machsom Watch.

By chance, I found a video posted on Youtube, made by Journeyman Pictures in June 2008, that gives one of the best representations I’ve seen of the oppressive humiliation of Palestinians at checkpoints, and of the arrogant and irresponsible behavior of some members of the Israeli Border Police and Defense Forces in the West Bank. It also does a very good job of portraying the motivation, views and work of the members of Machsom Watch (some of them I have had the pleasure of meeting and seeingn at work on the spot in the West Bank).

This vidoe is entitled “Mother Courage”[maybe not the best title] , and while its embedding function has been disabled upon request, it can be viewed in full here.

Continue reading Machsom Watch: "We tell only about things we have personally seen"