This fall, I plan to attend Yeshivat Har Etzion, which is located in Alon Shevut, a settlement in the West Bank. Although the Gush (or Etzion Bloc) is considered relatively safe, there have been some recent incidents. Many people believe that much of the relative safety in Israel and the West bank is due in part to strategically placed checkpoints and road-blocks.
When I was in Israel this past summer, I had the opportunity to visit a checkpoint in the West Bank. What I saw looked somewhat familiar. On the surface, it simply looked like a modified toll plaza with soldiers. The drivers would show identification, pass through between booths, and continue on their way. However, as I got closer, I noticed that the soldiers would pull cars aside, and frustrated Palestinians would reluctantly open their trunks. The soldiers would then search the cars, and soon the driver would be on his/her way.
A ranking officer at the checkpoint explained that Palestinians from the surrounding areas had to pass through the checkpoint in order to get to work each day. He explained that because of the way it was set up, and by its very nature, the checkpoint creates a bottleneck effect, where Palestinians had only one way to get to the other side of the “security barrier,” and were forced to go out of their way just to get there. He mentioned that he believed it was a necessary evil, and that what it sacrificed (namely Palestinian convenience), the Israel public gained in security.
This raises my concern only because they were presented to me as a security need. However, I do believe that if certain checkpoints severely interfere with Palestinian trade, and are not needed for security reasons, they should definitely be removed.
I was wondering if anyone had opinions on this topic. Please feel free to comment and respond.
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