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To Open the Qalandia Checkpoint for Regular and Full Movement

On October 7, 2023, following Hamas's terrorist attack and the outbreak of war, the checkpoints around Jerusalem's perimeter were closed. These checkpoints intersect between Jerusalem and the neighborhoods beyond the wall, which are also situated within the city's municipal boundaries, inhabited by permanent residents and citizens of Israel. The Qalandia checkpoint resumed operation only two weeks after the outbreak of the war, in a partial and highly restricted manner. The outcome is a near-complete closure for the Jerusalem residents residing in Aqab village.

On November 7, 2023, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and The Parents' Forum petitioned (Hebrew) the High Court of Justice, demanding a return to normal operation at the checkpoint. The petition described the severe restrictions on movement at the checkpoint and the substantial disruption caused to the residents' daily lives. It asserted that while the need to bolster security at the perimeter checkpoints due to the current emergency Israel is facing is understandable, security needs cannot justify the sustained and severe infringement on the rights of thousands of people to freedom of movement. These restrictions prevent their access to urgent healthcare services, employment, educational institutions, welfare services, and other essential services.

One of the petitioners is the father of a 20-year-old young man, Tare, critically injured, waiting for neurosurgery, which was postponed due to the war, and requires urgent medical treatments: "His skull is open, and he needs a bone restoration surgery. Until he undergoes the surgery, any minor head injury he receives poses a real life-threatening danger... We travel to the hospital an average of three times a week... Now, in order to reach Hadassah Hospital through Qalandia Checkpoint for the appointment set for 12:00, we need to leave at five in the morning. This is very hard for everyone, but for Tare, it is almost impossible... We must find a way to make it easier for him to pass through the checkpoints... From his perspective, it could be a matter of life and death... In the current situation at Qalandia Checkpoint, he might die before reaching the hospital."

Approximately 3,000 children from the Akev village study in educational institutions in Jerusalem. Before the war, they passed the checkpoint through a carousel, equipped with electronic security measures, without inspection or meeting policemen and soldiers. It took a minute. Today, they are required to wake up at four in the morning and pass through a pedestrian route, opened for them and for Palestinian workers for only two hours, in an underground and oppressive path. The committee chairman describes:

"Now all the children pass through the pedestrian crossing. Everyone, even the young ones, around six years old. They need to stand in the long line at the checkpoint, outside of it. There's a traffic light there. When it turns green, they can cross, and then they arrive at the inspection station. The students are required to remove their bags, belts, and sometimes shoes, which are checked. If they succeed, they reach an additional inspection and are required to present their birth certificates to a soldier or police officer sitting behind a glass window. From there, they go onto a bridge about 200-300 meters long, walking on it, and only then do they reach the transportation. Their parents are not allowed to accompany them. At the end of this route, it's closed, and many students do not make it through the checkpoint to attend their studies."

On January 8, 2024, a hearing was held on the petition. In a decision published by the HCJ justices on January 9, 2024, they addressed the difficulties in medical evacuation while the checkpoint is closed, and the severe consequences of closing the checkpoint to vehicles every day at 5:00 P.M. The justices ordered the state to examine solutions, for example by reinforcing forces at checkpoints by the police and the IDF or removing checkpoints that do not allow vehicles to pass. The justices further ruled that "the respondents must consider the passage of time,  In light of the ongoing impact on the routine life of tens of thousands of Jerusalem residents."

HCJ 8026/23: Commander of the Jerusalem District, Israel Police

Attorneys: Tal Hassin (Association for Civil Rights in Israel), Issa Abu Saleh Abu Akar (The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel)"

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