Visualizing Check Point 300: A Photo Essay

by EA P. Morgan, Bethlehem team. 

“The checkpoint takes all that man has, all his efforts, all his time, all his nerve… The checkpoint is the chaos and the order, it is within the law and outside of it, operating by rationality and idiosyncrasy through order and disorder.” Azmi Bishara, ‘Checkpoints: Fragments of a Story’ (2006)

Checkpoint 300 (or Gilo Checkpoint) sits on the northern outskirts of Bethlehem and is one of the primary points for crossing the ‘Separation Barrier’ in the south of the West Bank. Buses of tour groups and pilgrims regularly pass through the vehicular checkpoint on day trips from Jerusalem to see the Christian holy sites in Bethlehem. However, fewer than 100 meters away from the passing tour buses, partially hidden, lies the beginning of the pedestrian checkpoint. Here the twittering of the birds as they play in and out of the metal bars and gates during the day provides a stark contrast to the scenes witnessed in the early mornings.

At 3:30am, men from as far as south as Hebron begin queuing at the checkpoint on their way to work (mostly in construction) around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Stoppages and hold ups inside of the checkpoint are common despite the crowds pressing need to reach work on time. They know that if they are repeatedly late risk the loss of work permits for inside Israel. The crowded queue heaves and compresses at gates and turnstiles. Middle-aged men cry out in pain. To bypass the crowd, men clamber over the bars and along the cage-like walls forming a canopy of humanity. From here the occupied population is fed through the turnstiles of the checkpoint like a meat grinder – to emerge on the other side as a cheap workforce.

More Information:

The Separation Barrier: background, statistics and case-studies, by B’Tselem

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