Israeli Checkpoints: Deathtraps for Palestinians

A Palestinian woman walks in front of a section of Israel’s controversial barrier near Qalandiya checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Ramallah, on the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan 20 July 2012. (Photo: Reuters – Mohamad Torokman)

Jerusalem – Another crime was added yesterday to the extensive list of Israeli occupation forces’ aggressions against Palestinians.

The occupation does not care for the sanctity of Ramadan or even Palestinian life. Yesterday, its soldiers killed a Palestinian worker in cold blood.

Akram Badih Badr’s sole concern was getting to his place of work so he could earn a wage and buy food for his children and return home before sundown. This time, his return was blood-soaked.

On the al-Zaim checkpoint east of occupied Jerusalem, Israeli occupation forces killed Badr and injured two others, one of them critically. The soldiers opened fire on a car carrying workers on their way to Jerusalem.

Palestinian sources told Al-Akhbar that Badr, 46, from the village of Beitlo, west of Ramallah, was hit by multiple bullets in the stomach and chest. He bled to death at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

Ashraf Abdullah was hit by explosive bullets that dislodged his shoulder and shattered his thighbone. Khaled Imad Abdullah was shot in his right leg.Occupation authorities immediately claimed that the car had not obeyed the soldiers’ orders to stop. But the Palestinian story is quite different.

Palestinian sources say that 13 workers were in a car headed to Jerusalem. Its driver had received a phonecall from a colleague who had reached the checkpoint earlier.

He told him that occupation forces were tightening up procedures and they had to find an alternate route.

This was precisely what the driver decided to do. As he turned the car around, the border guards saw them and took them by surprise. They opened fire at the car without asking it to stop.

Israeli police spokesperson, Luba Samari, claimed in a statement that border guards had fired on a Palestinian vehicle that refused to stop at al-Zaim checkpoint.

“The police there asked the car to stop for a second time. But it continued moving in a haphazard manner, threatening the lives of the border police who fired shots towards the vehicle which was heading towards the village of al-Zaim nearby.”

“[The police] continued combing and searching the area behind the vehicle and its passengers, who were hit by gunfire. It later appeared that three of the passengers were wounded,” according to Samari.This crime is but one of hundreds of similar incidents by the Israeli occupation forces on military checkpoints spread all over the West Bank.

According to B’Tselem (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), Israel has 98 fixed checkpoints in the West Bank, including 57 deep inside the territories and far from the Green Line.

This also includes 16 checkpoints in the Israeli-designated Area H2 in the occupied city of Hebron, south of the West Bank, “where Israeli settlement enclaves are found.” Moreover, “thirty-three of the internal checkpoints are regularly staffed.”

B’Tselem also indicates that “41 of the fixed checkpoints are at the last inspection point before entering Israel, although most are located a few kilometers east of the Green Line.”

Since the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000, the number of Palestinians killed on such checkpoints has reached 160, according to reports by Palestinian human rights organizations.

This number is less than half of the 401 Palestinian who have died at checkpoints due to medical negligence and the Israeli siege.The number of Palestinians arrested at the checkpoints is also constantly on the rise.

According to information obtained by Al-Akhbar from several human rights organizations, 29 Palestinians were detained at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank just last April.

Most of the detentions took place in the governorates of Nablus, Ramallah, and Bethlehem.

The checkpoints involved were Baqout near Bethlehem, Zaatara and Hawara near Nablus, and Qalandia near Ramallah, where arrests were made under several pretexts.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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