Mon Jan 10, 2011 4:36PM
Rana Kamal, Press TV, al-Quds
"There are more than 400 Israeli checkpoints in the Occupied West Bank. Now, the United Nations says it is highly concerned that Israel may soon increase restrictions and strengthen its checkpoints.
The UN fears such measures may make it more difficult for Palestinians living in east Jerusalem Al-Quds as well as foreign workers to travel to the West Bank without getting special permissions. The restrictions could also affect the movement of goods.
It says if Israel implements these restrictions, traveling between the West bank and East Jerusalem could become more like getting in and out of Gaza.
The West Bank including east Jerusalem has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967, and they are considered occupied territories under international law.
Recently, Israel has been working on expanding many of its West Bank checkpoints, making them appear more permanent.
Many experts say these changes to the checkpoints will gradually take place so that Israel can cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of occupied Palestinian lands and secure it as its capital.
The Qalandia checkpoint is the main gateway between Jerusalem and the West Bank. Thousands of Palestinian and foreign workers pass this border-like checkpoint everyday. But even now crossing the check point is not easy as people have to wait for long hours and put up with harsh treatment by Israeli soldiers.
The Israelis say checkpoints such as Qalandia is where potential attackers are filtered out before they can reach Jerusalem. Palestinians say it's a daily humiliation they must endure to reach jobs, family, medical appointments and schools.
The separation barrier between Israel and the West Bank slices through several of Jerusalem's Arab neighborhoods, making checkpoints such as Qalandia the only way for Palestinian residents to reach their city.
The Israeli army has declined to comment on changes to the checkpoints in the West Bank. However, the United Nations says some officials privately acknowledge that Israel will modify many more checkpoints in the coming months. Some analysts say these measures may be in response to a Palestinian move to seek international recognition for an independent state.
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