This video explores the reality behind the West Bank checkpoints.
An Israel Defense Forces checkpoint, commonly called machsom (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.
Many Palestinian residents of the West Bank, claim that despite the machsoms’ 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”.
Hundreds of Israeli women have monitored the checkpoints as part of Machsom (Checkpoint) Watch. The organization circulated daily reports on the checkpoints and published a book of testimonies that co-founder and author Yehudit Kirstein-Keshet says demonstrates “Israel’s imprisonment of an entire population in a web of closures and checkpoints.” Kirstein-Keshet also reports, “We Watchers … have witnessed the daily humiliation and abuse, the despair and impotence of Palestinians at checkpoints.”
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.