***image1***Humiliation characterizes the Palestinian experience at checkpoints, an experience that is especially acute for communities between the Wall and Green Line. These communities, whose movement in and out of their isolated villages is under the total control of several checkpoints, must navigate them daily in order to go to school, visit a hospital, or visit family members living outside the enclave.

Several stories from the Barta' ash-Sharqiya, east of Jenin, illuminate what this means to the lives of individuals living in these areas. Barta' and the surrounding villages form the Jenin enclave, access to which is controlled by several checkpoints. The first is about 31-year-old Ramzi Qebaha and his wife, whose family was coming from a university graduation celebration and stopped at the on the way back to their village on 10 July, 2009. The mother of Ramzi's wife explained,

“It was 8:30 in the evening, and we were coming back from a graduation party from the American University.

We were seven people. My daughter and I entered the terminal. They checked us, and we went through the body scanning machine. They then stopped my daughter and told her that she should go into another room where for a strip search. There are cameras inside each room, and soldiers are able to see in from above, as the roof is open.

Her husband refused to let her go, but the soldier insisted. Her husband began arguing with the soldier, and at that point six soldiers came and began beating him their fists and rifles. They closed the checkpoint and detained all of us. They were not allowing cars to enter and it was very crowded because at at ten they close the terminal and everyone was going.

“There were more soldiers than people. They took my daughter's husband's brother and beat him; his leg is still very swollen. The women were yelling at the soldiers. They handcuffed my daughter's husband and put him in a small room. The solders surrounded him, but he continued to yell at them, so they beat him again and held us until 1 o clock. The army came and took him; now he is in prison.

“They also checked his wife, then they released us at 2:00 am.”

The mother of 14-year-old Insaf Jamil Abelqader told a different story, illustrating spoke of the routine harassment her daughter faces.

“She has had a problem with her leg since she was one, and now she goes three times a week for therapy. Although she has a medical certificate, she is always held for a long time by soldiers, usually two or three hours. Every time she crosses the checkpoint, they make her take off all the metal equipment on her leg, and always send her to a separate room for checking.”

Similar stories are told by people from each isolated community. The people of Barta' are one of the 17 localities, consisting of 8,557 Palestinians, who are caught between the Wall and the Green Line. Dependent on nearby cities for health and educational services, but caged in by checkpoints with restricted opening hours and systematic search procedures, these communities face a creeping form of ethnic cleansing. Unable to build a life under these conditions, younger generations will be silently forced from their lands, which will be lost behind the Wall and expropriated for settlement.

See Palestinian Towns and Villages: Between Isolation and Expulsion for more information.


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