One Checkpoint - Many Impediments to Daily Life: TARQUMIYA | Machsomwatch
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One Checkpoint - Many Impediments to Daily Life: TARQUMIYA

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Thursday, 1 August, 2019


The Tarqumiya Checkpoint is one of the largest and busiest checkpoints where people and goods cross into Israel. It is located on the Separation Barrier close to the Green Line, on Road 35 (connecting Beer Sheva and Hebron). It is run by the Israel Defense Ministry’s Crossings Administration with civilian secuirty companies running the day to day operations. The checkpoint  is indeed open to vehicles in both directions 24/7, but Palestinians are prevented from crossing in vehicles, except in  special cases.

Tarqumiya in the pre-dawn hours
Rachel Afek

MachsomWatch activists visit the checkpoint as it opens at 3:45 am, in order to observe the daily  passage of nearly 10,000 Palestinian workers.  The workers arrive from throughout the Southern West Bank.  Their day begins before 3:00 am so that they can make it on time to board transportation to their work sites throughout Israel and not lose a day's work due to arbitrary delays.   Our activists report on the tremendous overcrowding at this checkpoint; they have observed young men climbing and scrambling on the fences and roofs of the ‘access cages’.  This is how the work day begins for those who ‘build the land of Israel’.

Nourishment in the pre-dawn hours
Rachel Afek

The Tarqumiya Checkpoint serves Palestinians holding permits to work inside Israel, and enables pedestrian crossing only, all weekdays from 3:45am until 7:00pm (on Fridays until 4:00pm). It also serves as a transfer route for merchandise between the Ashdod Port and Hebron as well as to all the settler-colonies in this area. The site contains a branch of the Civil Administration’s licensing service, and an office for transferring ownership as well as representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture who inspect fauna and flora. Only in special cases are Palestinian allowed through the checkpoint by vehicle.

Nearly10,000 Palestinian workers (twice as many on Sundays) cross the checkpoint on foot daily, arriving from the entire Southern West Bank.  The workers come from towns and villages throughout the Southern West Bank including Tarqumiya, Susiya, Beit Ula, Bani Naim and even from Hebron. Some arrive by buses  from East Jerusalem that are allowed to cross into Israel, but even when the workers do cross by foot, the buses are delayed at times. Others reach their workplace from the checkpoint by taking large white cabs. A sum of 20 NIS (a significant sum for them) will get them to nearby destinations.

All morning long the routine sights at this checkpoint are of crowded waiting lines and long nervous hours of waiting, delays and detentions.  Is this harsh daily experience really necessary?

Want to work in Israel? GET MARRIED!
Rachel Afek

This Machsomwatch report describes the daily experience of 10,000 workers at Tarqumiya Checkpoint.