37. Photo Essay - A Morning at the Beit Furik and Huwwara Checkpoints
Machsom Watch is an Israeli organization composed of women, both young and old. It was formed in January 2001 in response to repeated reports about human rights abuses of Palestinians crossing checkpoints. Machsom is the Hebrew word for checkpoint. The goals of Machsom Watch are to monitor the behavior of soldiers and police at checkpoints; ensure that civil and human rights of Palestinians are protected; and record and report the results of their observations. I recently accompanied the women of Machsom Watch to two checkpoints in the Nablus area: Beit Furik and Hawwara.
There is a sign posted by the exit of the Beit Furik checkpoint, which looks innocent enough and possibly even multicultural with the three languages. The English reads "Exit Only" and the Arabic the same. The Hebrew, however, has been altered to the offensive "Exit Dog."
At the Hawwara checkpoint, the main entry point into Nablus, I saw children facing soldiers who had their rifles pointed in their direction. I saw men detained in an inhumane manner. Most men in the age range of 16 to 35 are automatically detained at the checkpoint so that their names can be checked to see it they are on any wanted lists. This can take minutes but more often hours. While waiting, the men are corralled, for lack of a better term, into a concrete pen with no shelter from the sun. Whenever they tried to stand or stretch their legs or to find out what was happening, they were ordered to sit down again.
Matt Robson, United Kingdom
A Palestinian man has all his belongings searched as he attempts to cross the Hawwara checkpoint.
A closer look at the sign at the Beit Furik checkpoint, the Hebrew section having been altered to the offensive "Exit Dog."
An Israeli soldier admonishes detained men in a "holding area."
An Israeli soldier checking the I.D. of a Palestinian man at the Huwwara checkpoint.
Children face soldiers who have rifles pointed in their direction at the Huwwara checkpoint.
Detained men are forced into a "holding area" with no shelter from the sun as their names are checked to see it they are on any wanted lists.
Palestinians are made to wait at the Huwwara checkpoint on the southern approach to Nablus.