Photo taken by Machsom Watch at roadblock

Report slams IDF checkpoints

Human rights group’s annual report presents grim picture of reality at army roadblocks, says checkpoints paralyze lives of million people. Army rejects numbers presented by Machsom Watch, says roadblocks needed to fight terror

TEL AVIV - Since November 2004, the IDF has removed only four of 61 checkpoints in the West Bank and only 70 of 680 smaller roadblocks, the Machsom Watch group revealed Thursday in a press conference.


The human rights organization consists of women who volunteer to monitor the army’s conduct at checkpoints and roadblocks in a bid to prevent human rights abuses and assist Palestinian civilians.


“We call for the removal of internal West Bank roadblocks and boosting of Palestinian movement,” the group said. “Let the Palestinians live, so they won’t be our enemies.”


After four and a half years of observation at roadblocks, Machsom Watch has discovered the situation is only deteriorating, the group charged.


“Movement constraints and delays at checkpoints continue to paralyze the lives of about one million people, who cannot regularly arrive at work, school, and hospitals,” Machsom Watch said.


‘There’s no human contact’


The latest report documents about 3,000 shifts by group members at roadblocks across the West Bank, and addresses such aspects as waiting time, unnecessary delays, settler involvement at checkpoints, violence, and humiliation.


The report also slams the settlers and says roadblocks are meant to provide them with free passage at the expense of the Palestinians.


“There are apartheid roads, where only settlers can travel on. We saw cases where settlers help soldiers run the roadblocks,” the group said.


Notably, the IDF has forbidden Palestinians from traveling on certain roads in light of repeated terror attacks that claimed the lives of Israeli motorists.


Regarding civil administration liaison offices manned by soldiers, the group says in reality nobody knows what the procedures are and what laws should be followed.


“The number of soldiers working with the people is without proportion to the population – about two million (Palestinians,)” said Machsom Watch official Ilana Hammerman.


“Dozens of people stand in line for hours, without a bathroom, a roof over their head, in the rain or sun, waiting to be called to see an official,” she said. “Every window is protected by reinforced glass. There is no human contact with the soldier because of that glass…and you need to yell.”


IDF rejects figures


In response to the scathing report, the IDF said one of the counter-terror measures employed by the army is the placement of monitoring points across the West Bank in order to prevent the passage of terror activists.


“As part of its working doctrine, the IDF aspires to distinguish between terror elements and Palestinian civilians…elements that are not involved in terrorism pass through checkpoints without any trouble.”


The army rejected the figures presented by Machsom Watch and said the number of checkpoints and roadblocks has decreased by more than 50 percent. The IDF also said the civil administration runs a 24-hour humanitarian call center to look into roadblock-related complaints, including those filed by Machsom Watch.


“Since the beginning of 2005, 389 Palestinians were captured at checkpoints, including some who expressed willingness to commit suicide, attempted to transfer weapons into Israel, and wanted terror suspects,” the army said.


פרסום ראשון: 06.09.05, 16:40
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