Restore Residents of Neighborhoods Beyond the Separation Barrier’s Standard Way of Life
Traffic jam at the checkpoint, 26.10.2022. Photo: Jamil Sanduka
On October 8, 2022, a shooting incident took place at the Shuafat refugee camp checkpoint. An IDF soldier was killed and a security guard was wounded. Immediately after the incident, the checkpoint was closed to pedestrian and vehicular traffic. In the following days, the Shuafat checkpoint was opened and closed intermittently, not all of its lanes were operational, and the public transportation route via which students commute to schools in Jerusalem, remains closed. Furthermore, another checkpost was added prior to entering Jerusalem, such that residents who wish to travel there in their vehicles are inspected twice. The weighty pressure and the new restrictions have not ceased, even after the perpetrator of the attack was shot and killed on October 19, 2022, upon carrying out another shooting attack near Ma'ale Adumim.
The strict inspection and partial operation of the checkpoint has created huge traffic jams upon entering and exiting the camp, while residents have reported waiting for several hours (up to five!) at the exit. To get to work on time, people leave their homes at 4:00 in the morning; students arrive at school significantly late or stay at home; the critically ill who require treatment at the city's hospitals, and women in labor, also get stuck in the endless lines of cars. On top of all of this, security forces engage with residents in a strict, humiliating, and domineering manner.
Throughout the month we appealed to all the relevant parties three times, demanding that all lanes at the Shuafat refugee camp checkpoint be opened immediately, for both pedestrians and vehicles; that a lane be created to allow for emergency passage through the checkpoint for critically ill patients who require medical treatment; and that swift and smooth passage be permitted for students commuting to schools. Attorneys Oded Feller and Tal Hassin wrote that “the systematic and ongoing mistreatment of residents, and the complete disruption of the standard way of life in neighborhoods situated beyond the separation barrier, for weeks at a time – is disproportionate, extremely unreasonable, and raises grave concerns regarding the unacceptable and illegal collective punishment of tens of thousands of people."