New checkpoint in Shuafat east Jerusalem 311 .
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Police opened a new checkpoint at the entrance of the Shuafat Refugee Camp in
northeastern Jerusalem on Monday morning, a move that has caused some unrest at
the entrance to the camp with large groups of youths throwing stones at patrols
of border police vehicles.
Ten people, mostly youth, have been arrested
over the past week for disturbing the peace and throwing stones.
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checkpoint has a permanent roof to protect soldiers and guards in the winter –
six lanes for cars instead of two, and a paved walkway for pedestrians. The
police said the new checkpoint “will allow a more comfortable and spacious exit
and entrance” to the neighborhood.
While the new checkpoint is expected
to significantly decrease waiting time for cars entering and leaving the
neighborhood, the residents said their anger is directed at the new checkpoint
because it represents a more permanent step in cutting off the residents from
Much of the Shuafat Refugee Camp is located within municipal
Jerusalem, though it is located on the West Bank side of the security barrier.
The original residents of Shuafat Refugee Camp hold blue identity cards, and
many work and send their children to school in Jerusalem.
Israeli-Arab residents who live in Jerusalem neighborhoods on the other side of
the security barrier are supposed to receive the same services – including
trash, sewage, and water – as the rest of the city, though the reality is very
These neighborhoods, the Shuafat Refugee Camp, Kafr Aqab,
Semiramis, Zughayer and Atarot, are under the responsibility of the Israeli
police, but the police barely enter these neighborhoods due to security
concerns. Additionally, Palestinian security forces are forbidden from entering
the neighborhoods because it is considered part of Jerusalem. The resulting
situation is a lawless no-man’s-land strewn with trash, and severely lacking in
“[The new checkpoint] makes it official, they made it so
there’d be a real division,” said A., who owns a convenience store outside the
A taxi driver from the Shuafat Camp said the wait to exit the
neighborhood in the morning with the old checkpoint, which only had one lane of
traffic in each direction, usually took between 20 to 30 minutes in the
“We hope residents will take advantage of the opportunity they
have to go in and out. We hope it will be used at maximum capacity,” said
National Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
Rosenfeld estimated that the
checkpoint handles more than 10,000 crossings per day. Kalandiya, the major
checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah, handles well over 25,000 crossings