Photo Essay

Please wait while JT SlideShow is loading images...
Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15

mod_vvisit_counterThis week9116
mod_vvisit_counterLast week18531
mod_vvisit_counterThis month40195
mod_vvisit_counterLast month64344
mod_vvisit_counterAll days4282801

We have: 29 guests online
Your IP:
Today: Oct 18, 2018

Closures and checkpoints

Print PDF
Factual statement

Palestinians already experienced closure, which restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians, after 1948 when the state of war between Jordan, Egypt and Israel restricted traffic across the borders. With the Israeli occupation in 1967, a policy of opening of borders fell within a broader plan for assimilation of the Occupied Territories into Israel, devised by Moshe Dayan, Israels Defense Minister. The General Entry Permit amending Military Order No 34 of 2 July 1967 gave general authorization for persons and trade in goods.

The closure has intensified gradually since then. From 1972 until 1989, a general exit permit was issued that applied to all residents of the West Bank and Gaza and enabled them to move freely between the territories, Israel, and Jerusalem during the day. In the late 1980s, beginning of the 1990s, in the wake of the Intifada, and under the shadow of the Gulf War, Israel imposed a closure on the city of Jerusalem for security reasons. The closure emerged as a policy. Each time an incident occurred, the closure tightened. In 1989, Israel began to restrict the general exit permit for people that where deemed a security risk. Israel suspended the general exit permits in 1991 and replaced them by personal exit permits. General Permit had been nullified. Henceforth, it became illegal for Palestinians to enter or pass through East Jerusalem and Israel without obtaining an individual special permit for the purpose specifically designated. To enforce this policy, nine checkpoints were set up, one on each main road entering the city. This closed the border between the rest of the West Bank and Jerusalem. At first, Israel issued many permits for relatively long periods. Most Palestinians could continue to enter Israel routinely. However, Israels permit policy gradually became stricter.

To enter Jerusalem, Palestinians without Jerusalem ID must apply for a permit. Obtaining a permit is a lengthy, humiliating, and arbitrary process, which requires the submission of considerable personal documents. There are no clear procedures and criteria for receiving permits, and there is no requirement to state reasons for denying one, nor is there any avenue of appeal for Palestinians denied permits.

If granted, permits are usually for short terms and must be renewed for each new entrance to the city. The permit specifies the hours in which the holder is allowed to be in the city, and even the exact areas where the holder is allowed to go. Holding a permit does not guarantee access. Israel can choose at will to impose a total closure on Jerusalem.

In 1993, Israel imposed a general closure on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, isolating East Jerusalem from the rest of Occupied Palestinian Territories. Permanent checkpoints were placed at border points. A general closure has been in use ever since.

Kinds of closures:

  • General Closure: Through the Oslo period, permits issued to Palestinians have been totally and tightly controlled by the Israelis and movement severely restricted. Even during only general closure, Israeli policy can vary a lot as to the Palestinian traffic permitted across borders.

  • Partial Closure: Partial closure commonly involves an additional restriction on Palestinian traffic. It can apply to persons or goods, imports or more commonly exports, and to destinations.

  • Total Closure: Total closure is not a term of precision. The benchmark measurement is the prohibition of all workers of the Occupied Territories traveling to work in Israel. Other restrictions could be prohibition of exports.

  • Internal Closure: On 3 March 1996, Israel established the internal closure security policy, which restricted movement out of Palestinian urban centers only, affecting Palestinian controlled areas and not Israeli-controlled areas.

The Israelis have the final say regarding who is allowed residency in the Palestinian Territories and who is not. All Palestinians in the Occupied Territories require permits to travel, except for those with Israeli citizenship or Jerusalem residence permits. Palestinians without permits are turned back from checkpoints. Those that succeed in passing illegally are subject to arrest and imprisonment. Palestinian registered vehicles require special permits to enter Jerusalem and Israel.

With the Second Intifada that began on 28 September 2000, a new wave of heavy closures was launched. In East Jerusalem, closure has become much stricter since the Second Intifada began. Particularly on Fridays, when Muslims go to Friday prayer, strict closure is imposed in Jerusalem. An extra tight closure is put in force in the Old City to restrict Palestinian worshippers from accessing the Haram Al-Sharif for prayer at the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.

The rationale for closure
Israel justifies closure on the basis of security risks actual or perceived. The security rationale has been challenged for various reasons. Most importantly because it fails to secure Israel from attack. As it is uniformly applied to all Palestinians, closure affects everyone except probably those that are skilled and determined enough to breach it. The manner in which closure is pursued indicates that the policy rather serves economic and political considerations. If the Palestinians were free to develop their economy, perhaps creating partnerships with neighbors and the European Union, it is probable that economic dependency on Israel would eventually end. However, no Israeli government has during the peace process been willing to permit the possibility of economic independence and has used closure to ensure this. Closure leads to poverty and to some dismantling of social solidarity within the Palestinian society. Closure and economic dependence thus also works as a pressure on the PA and the Palestinians in order to yield political results.

Recent developments

Since the eruption of the Palestinian uprising (intifada), Israeli army and police forces have regularly erected additional, so-called 'flying' checkpoints at the entrances of Jerusalem neighborhoods, for example Ras Khamis, Ras Al Amud, and Al Zu'ayyem neighborhoods, and at the entrances of Anata and Shufat refugee camp. Three additional checkpoints are also erected on the Wadi Al Nar road, which connects Jerusalem with the Bethlehem area.

Today, checkpoints represent exceedingly long lines, harassment, humiliation, and inhumane treatment in a variety of forms for the Palestinian people and have become a daily reality for many of them. Citizens are forced to wait long hours if they are able to pass through at all. Checkpoints prevent workers and employees from reaching their workplace, students from reaching their schools, patients from reaching hospitals, etc. Israeli Forces prevented Palestinian ambulances from passing checkpoints to reach injured Palestinians and transport them to hospitals, they arrested Palestinian workers and employees at the A-Rum and Qalandia checkpoint. Regularly, fire is opened on civilians at the Qalandia checkpoint which as also become known as 'the hell'.

The closure of Jerusalem will be complete if the current Israeli plan will be carried out. This plan is based on establishing obstacles to the flow of people and vehicles into the city from Palestinian areas. The aim is to "make it more difficult for Palestinian residents to reach Jerusalem from Ramallah and Bethlehem." (Landau, January 2002) and it will limit the number of entry points into the city, where inspections will be conducted. The plan - which envisions the building of electric fences, stone walls, trenches, and roadblocks in areas outside city limits - was approved by the cabinet at the end of March 2002. The plan further includes the installation of video cameras and thermal observation posts, which will be manned by 500 additional border policemen stationed on city's outskirts . The plan would incorporate the settlements of Ma'aleh Adumim and Givat Ze'ev, even though they fall beyond city limits, as well as Palestinian villages of Abu Dis, Beit Iksa, Anata, and Hizma, even though they are currently under Palestinian Authority civilian control, in Area B. This plan will affect the lives of many Palestinians living in these areas.

Impact of closure

The closure has had a devastating impact on all aspects of Palestinian life in Jerusalem as it isolated the city from the rest of the country. The closure has halted the economy in East Jerusalem. It used to be the centre for the surrounding villages and depended strongly on citizens from the West Bank, particularly the surrounding areas. However, these villagers now go to Ramallah or Bethlehem to buy and sell. 50 percent of the businesses in East Jerusalem closed. Most of them opened a branch outside Jerusalem in Ramallah, Bethlehem or somewhere else in the West Bank. Furthermore, the closure restrains employees from outside to reach their work inside the city.

Apart from the economic impact, the closure has also affected social, political, religious and cultural life. It isolated Jerusalem from the rest of the Occupied Territories. The closure restrains, for example, Moslems and Christians from reaching their religious sites in Jerusalem. Furthermore, it prohibits residents from the West Bank to visit their relatives in Jerusalem, and makes it almost impossible for them to use the best Palestinian health care services, which are in Jerusalem.

Legal statement

Israeli law
It is a general principle of law that any measure of force, as closure is, has to be proportionate, limited by time and extent, and directed towards the purpose intended and must be concluded when that purpose is secured. According to Israeli law, security measures should not violate basic rights.

International law
Israel's policy of closure is a deliberate act of state that discriminates against Palestinians and regressively impacts their enjoyment of the full range of economic and social rights. Israel's policy of closure is a violation of the freedom of movement (UDHR art. 9 and 13; ICCPR, art. 12) and violates the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Israel is a State Party. Israel's policy of closure negatively impacts the right to work (art. 6 and 7), education (art. 13) and health (art. 12).

The imposition of closure represents serious violations to rules of international humanitarian law, specifically, article 50 of the Hague Convention (1907) and Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949), which prohibit the use of collective punishment against civilians. Furthermore, these illegal practices result in the breakdown of the social and economic fabric of Occupied East Jerusalem. Israel's actions stand in direct contradiction to the legal duties of an Occupying Power as set forth in customary international law. According to Article 33 of the Hague Regulations Addendum to the Hague Convention of 1907, Israel, as an Occupying Power, is under a legal obligation to maintain normal life in the territory it occupies.

On 24 November 2001, the UN Committee Against Torture stated Israel's policy of closures may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in breach of article 16 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which Israel ratified in 1991.

The Construction of segregation wall and closures

On March 28, 1993, Israeli occupation authorities sealed Jerusalem before Palestinians of WBG.

On May 20, 2002 Israeli government decided to build the segregation wall around Jerusalem which is 730 km long and 8 meters high. However, on July 10, 2005 the Israeli government approved the track of the segregation wall around Jerusalem which will isolate 55,000 Palestinian holders of Jerusalem ID cards outside the wall.

On July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its advisory opinion on the Wall reiterated that East Jerusalem is an occupied territory, and called for the dismantling of the Wall, including the parts built in East Jerusalem.

However, upon the completion of the Wall in Jerusalem governorate, its total length will be 181 km. Only five kilometers of its completed length runs along the Green Line.

The Wall isolates Jerusalem from its geographic and strategic contact with the West Bank. The wall will also isolate 151,974 dunums of Palestinian behind its western side, which comprises 43% of the Jerusalem Governorate area.

More than 15,000 Jerusalemites living in Qalandyia and Kufr Aqab have been deprived from easy access to their work and markets in Jerusalem, especially after transforming the Qalandyia military checkpoint into a semi-international crossing.

Approximately 56.5% of the Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have been cut off from the city by the Wall.

Members of 72.1% of the families were prevented from accessing their university / college for several days due to the Wall and closure of the area. In addition, members of 69.4% of families enrolled in basic / secondary education were forced to be absent from school.

For 94.7% of the families, the time consumed in moving through the checkpoints has been an obstacle for their members (94.5% inside the wall and 95.0% outside the wall).

On January 7, 2010, Yakir Segev who is in charge of East Jerusalem Portfolio in Nir Barkat Muncipality announced that the segregation wall was built for demographic reasons "to remove 55,000 Arabs from Jerusalem."

Moslems and Christian from West Bank cannot visit freely their holy shrines. Special permits are needed, however they are very difficult to obtain.