Meeting at the checkpoint
Meeting at the checkpoint Israel news photo
A familiar sight to anyone driving through the checkposts that dot the Israeli road network where there are turnoffs nearby to Palestinian Authority governed communities, are the women of Machsom Watch, a radical left organization whose members consider themselves the monitors of IDF soldiers searching vehicles for terrorists and terrorist weapons that might be smuggled into Israeli cities and towns. 

The women are there, they claim, to "monitor human rights abuses" and the hampering of free passage for Arabs on  what they call "their own land." They often try to interfere with and hinder the soldiers. The soldiers are there, however, to try to make sure all the humans on the land have the basic right to live. There is no way to do without the checkposts, and in fact, the dismantling of some of them to please the United States government resulted almost immediately in terror attacks.

The PA Arabs delayed going through the checkpoints are paying the price for supporting terror actively as well as for silently letting it continue to flourish in their midst.

The Jews delayed, however, should not be going through those procedures and complain that they are paying the price of inefficient and partial manning of the booths at peak hours in certain places, and in some cases, the desire for individual guards to act according to their left leaning political views or to show that they check loyal, IDF serving Jews as carefully as they do PA Arabs.

The Gush Etzion checkpost, for example, is constantly backed up for miles, meaning that people miss appointments, working mothers arrive home after schools and kindergarden are over, much time is wasted and tempers are frayed.  The soldiers are not ordered to man all the available booths on the road to this densely populated area with its many professionals trying to reach Jerusalem or return from it, an easy improvement which would make a big difference to the Israeli taxpayers who are late to work time and time again, no matter when they leave their homes in Efrat, Elazar, Alon Shvut, Neve Daniel and places farther south.

However, the citizens of Karnei Shomron, Emanuel, Kedumim and the other communities in Samaria have a more serious problem. They are up in arms after being told by guards that the Eliyahu checkpoint that they must pass through to get to the coastal plain is a "border, to all intents and purposes, not just a checkpoint" and that is why they are detained and asked all kinds of questions.

Arutz Sheva has received a wave of complaints from residents of the above towns about what goes on at this checkpost. The writers complain about visitors from abroad and caretakers for the elderly being taken off buses and being addressed rudely by the guards, about insults and coarse behavior. Confirmation was given by the regional and municipal offices contacted by Arutz Sheva.

Karnei Shomron Mayor Herzl Ben-Ari said that he had been forced to intervene several times when contacted by panicked residents of the town who were detained at the checkpoint. “I got a call from a family that was stuck at  the checkpoint,” Ben-Ari said. “The guards would simply not let them pass.  It turns out that a 'selector' asked the driver the standard questions 'Where are you from? Who is that sitting in the back?' 'My wife,' answered the driver politely. 'Then why is she sitting in the back?' he countered. The driver’s wife was very offended by the irrelevant question. The driver tried to get the name of the guard so that he could file a complaint, but was stymied – and detained.

Ben-Ari said that he had examined the issue in depth and discussed it with top IDF officers, who had told him that there was no reason for any questioning at all.

Thursday afternoon, a citizen's demonstration is planned at the checkpoint: "We, loyal citizens of the State of Israel, will not be treated as if we are terrorists, having our time wasted and our honor insulted as if we are on the other side of a border", say the local ads.

The Samaria Residents' Council says:  "It is our right, as loyal citizens of the State, to receive at the checkpoint the same treatment Israeli citizens receive at the shopping malls in Tel Aviv and Kfar Sava, and as is done at the other passes at the entrance to Jerusalem, Maale Adumim, and Gush Etzion. There – not every driver is asked from where he came, and one is not asked to present an identification card, unless there is a specific reason for suspicion. The mere fact that we live in the Shomron does not turn us into potential terrorists, and does not lessen our rights to proper and civilized treatment.”

Attending the demonstration will be MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union), Samaria Regional Authority Head Gershon Mesika, Yesha Council Head Danny Dayan, Emanuel Mayor Rabbi Ezra Gershi, Kedumim Mayor Hananel Durani, Karnei Shomron Mayor Herzl Ben Ari. Machsom Watch is not expected.

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