Myths/Facts: Israel & the Middle East Mar/Apr 2004
MYTH: Israel uses checkpoints to deny Palestinians their rights and humiliate them.
FACT: It is not unusual for nations to guard their borders and to establish checkpoints to prevent people from illegally entering their countries. The United States has checkpoints at its borders and airports and, as Americans saw on September 11, these are necessary but not foolproof security precautions.
In the case of Israel, the necessity for checkpoints has been created by the Palestinians. By pursuing a violent campaign of terror against Israel’s citizens, they have forced Israel to set up barriers to make it as difficult as possible for terrorists to enter Israel or travel through the territories to carry out acts of violence. The checkpoints are an inconvenience to innocent Palestinians, but they do in fact prevent terror and save lives.
For example, on November 2, 2002, a van carrying boxes of jeans pulled up at a checkpoint. Soldiers checked the IDs of the men in the van and discovered one of the passengers was a wanted man. The van was unloaded and it was not until the soldiers opened the last box that they discovered an explosive belt that was being delivered to a suicide bomber.
Two weeks later a taxi pulled up to the same checkpoint. Soldiers found two computers in the trunk that seemed unusually heavy. They opened the boxes and found two explosive belts. They also found a bag with a gun.
Hyperbolic media reports and anti-Israel propaganda have suggested Israel is harassing Palestinian women at checkpoints. It is unfortunate that women cannot be ignored as potential security threats. Border policemen at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem, for example, arrested a Palestinian woman pushing a baby stroller that concealed a pistol, two ammunition clips, and a knife.
Commercial goods, food, medicine, ambulances, and medical crews continue to circulate freely, hampered only by continuing attacks. Palestinian workers going to jobs in Israel also may pass through the checkpoints with the proper identification; restrictions are only imposed when necessitated by the security situation.
Barriers are not set up to humiliate Palestinians, but to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens. Unfortunately, every time Israel has relaxed its policy and withdrawn checkpoints, Palestinian terrorists have taken advantage of the opportunity to launch new attacks on innocent Israelis.
From Myths & Facts Online—A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Mitchell G. Bard [www.JewishVirtualLibrary.org].
Used by permission.
MYTH: Israel’s policies in the territories have caused a humanitarian crisis for the Palestinians.
FACT: It is important to remember that Israel offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of Gaza, and it is the rejection of that proposal, coupled with incessant Palestinian terrorism, that has forced Israeli troops to carry out operations in the territories.
Though these actions have caused hardship for the Palestinian population, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has continued to ensure that humanitarian assistance is provided to Palestinians in need. For example, during just one 48-hour period, last year, the IDF:
- Coordinated the movement of Palestinians seeking medical care, assisting forty to go to hospitals, including four patients from Gaza who were transferred to Israel for medical treatment.
- Coordinated the movement of 284 Palestinians in the West Bank who were transferred by ambulance.
- Coordinated the passage of building materials for the construction of a hospital in Kalkilya.
- Coordinated the passage of humanitarian goods to Bethlehem.
- Coordinated entry of ration cards sent by an international aid organization to the residents of Azoun.
- Enabled the distribution of ration cards by the Red Cross in Salfit.
- Coordinated the passage of agricultural produce and food between Muassi and Khan Yunis.
- Coordinated the passage of a United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency team in Gaza to aid in the disposal of rubbish.
- Arranged entry into Kalkilya for an Israeli Arab family from East Jerusalem to attend their son’s wedding.
Even at the height of military action, such as the operation to clean out the terrorist nest in the Jenin refugee camp, Israeli forces have gone out of their way to assist Palestinian noncombatants. In the case of the Jenin operation, for example, the hospital there was kept running with a generator delivered under fire by an Israeli officer.
The best way to improve the situation for the Palestinians in the territories is for the Palestinian Authority to take the steps laid out by the Bush administration—end the violence, reform its institutions, and elect new leaders—so that peace talks may resume and a settlement can be negotiated.
From Myths & Facts Online—A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Mitchell G. Bard