Abuse At Notorious Gush Etzion Checkpoint

15 December 2006

The Israeli checkpoint on Road 60 near the Gush Etzion settlement separates the Bethlehem and Hebron districts of the West Bank. Over the past several years, the checkpoint has been expanded, and the Israeli military plans to expand it further as the Apartheid Wall is built in the area, so that, we have been told, soon Palestinians from the Bethlehem district will be required to have permits to go to Hebron and vice versa. There is now an area at the checkpoint where the Israeli soldiers and border police regularly detain Palestinians attempting to travel between Bethlehem and Hebron for several hours at a time.

Today, Israeli soldiers detained two Palestinian youth for approximately six hours at the Gush Etzion checkpoint. The soldiers made the youth stand in the sun behind an iron barrier for several hours, until a commander from the border police arrived, who then began beating them. PSP was not able to take pictures.

This is only one example of mistreatment and physical and psychological abuse of Palestinians at this checkpoint. This checkpoint has a notorious reputation within the local Palestinian communities as being particularly brutal. The soldiers’ goal seems to be to make Palestinians, including those with permits to enter Israel, afraid to travel on Road 60, which is the only direct road connecting Hebron to Betlehem and on to the northern cities of Ramallah and Nablus. Israeli settlers and internationals can travel from Bethlehem to Hebron on Road 60 in less than 30 minutes. When Road 60 is closed to Palestinian cars, a fairly regular occurance, they must take roads in poor repair and travel from village to village. The same trip from Hebron to Betlehem can take three hours.