BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian man suffocated on Monday morning before dawn while waiting in the narrow corridor of Checkpoint 300 in the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, where hundreds of workers were waiting to pass through on their way to work inside Israel.
Video footage of the incident shows the crowd of workers passing the man’s body over their heads towards the exit, where he was taken to hospital for treatment.
The identity of the man remained unknown.
In the early hours of the morning, typically before dawn, hundreds of Palestinians endure long waits at the 300 checkpoint, one of the only access points Palestinians from the southern West Bank have to Jerusalem and Israel.
Palestinians crowd into the cement- and metal-barred walkways, push through turnstiles, pass a metal detector, and show their IDs and permits to Israeli soldiers in order to travel to Israel for work . The process can at times take hours and cold winter temperatures coupled with hours of waiting time means frustrations are high.Checkpoint 300 was built in 2005 two kilometers inside of the green line, despite rulings by the International Court of Justice that the separation wall was deemed illegal in 2004.
High numbers of Palestinians, especially construction laborers, cross through the checkpoint every day, facing frequent overcrowding and often waiting for hours in line due to Israeli security measures.
Israel maintains severe restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement through a complex combination of fixed checkpoints, flying checkpoints, roads forbidden to Palestinians but open exclusively to Jewish settlers, and various other physical obstructions.At any given time there are about 100 permanent Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank, while surprise flying checkpoints often number into the hundreds.