Some 70,000 Palestinian workers pass through Israeli checkpoints every day. Those without proper permits often attempt to cross via gaps in the Israeli wall and mountain routes along the Green Line, running the risk of arrest or even being shot at by Israeli forces, Anne Paq photographs scenes from the checkpoints.
At the unearthly hour of 3.00am, crowds of Palestinian workers start to arrive at the Bethlehem-Israeli military checkpoint also known as ‘Checkpoint 300’. They are on their way to work in Israeli and Palestinian cities beyond the Green Line. Many making the crossing are construction labourers; many come from the south of the West Bank and begin their journey in the dead of night.
According to the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (WCC-EAPPI), between 4,000 and 6,000 workers cross this particular checkpoint daily between 4.00am and 7.00am to reach their places of employment in East Jerusalem and Israel. ‘Checkpoint 300’ is just one of 13 major crossings that allow Palestinians with work permits to cross, with an estimated 70,000 Palestinians passing through Israeli military checkpoints each day.
According to the International Labour Office’s (ILO) 2017 report, ‘at no point in the last 15 years have so many Palestinians worked in Israel and the settlements. They now number close to 120,000. Most cross over on a daily basis. Crossings and checkpoints remain inadequate to handle such a vast number every day.’