On Friday, April 28, 2017, there was a “Day of Rage” amongst all of the West Bank. The Day of Rage took place in response to the 1,500 prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli prisons. The day was organized by Fatah and the Palestinian Authority President to support the hunger strike.
Qalandia is an area that experienced plenty of violence on this day. I was at the Qalandia checkpoint on Friday to make some photographs during the Day of Rage. I found myself on the front lines of the clash, experiencing what it is like to be in the middle of conflict at a checkpoint in the West Bank. When I arrived, I saw a few Israeli soldiers taking cover as I stood across the street making pictures of them. It took the soldiers a matter of 30 seconds to make the decision to radio in a teargas strike from the watchtower. The teargas landed at my feet as I ran to the Palestinian side of the conflict. While standing behind angry Palestinians as they slingshot rocks across the checkpoint, I questioned the purpose of it all. The event had me contemplating the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole in the heat of the clash.
Today, Qalandia is used as a checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank. It is a Palestinian refugee camp located in the West Bank. Once the home to the first refugee women’s society, 11,000 people reside in Qalandia. The checkpoint was brought to life in 2005 with a dirt road and a military checkpoint that pedestrians had to pass through. It quickly expanded over the years with the introduction of concrete barriers, fences, and watchtowers. The Qalandia checkpoint acts as a major terminal for thousands of Palestinians to cross through each day. Because these concrete structures are so massive, Israelis can control the flow of traffic through the checkpoint from a protected area. The main problem the Palestinians find with checkpoints is the fact that the Israeli military has full control over their mobility throughout the country.
Checkpoints across the West Bank demonstrate how controlling space through separation and the construction of walls affect any area with a checkpoint. Palestinians feel suppressed and oppressed, while the Israeli military continues their efforts of strengthening their borders and checkpoints. The implementation of watchtowers and heavy military presence create fear amongst the Palestinian people.
There seems to be no real solution to this conflict. Events like the Day of Rage that just took place a few days ago have been going on for years now. The Palestinians held up peace signs after throwing their stones at the Israeli military. Where is the peace in that? It seems as though both sides view each other in a contradicting manner. The Israelis are in control and the Palestinians are not. This conflict will most likely only find its end after one last war between the two opposing territories. If not, the Palestinians will kill themselves after making no advancements in many decades. I put together a POV video of me shooting during the entire clash below: