What no one is saying about the shooting dead of a Palestinian at the Al Za’im Checkpoint

You can read on a thousand news sites about yesterday’s killing of a Palestinian attempting to enter East Jerusalem. Each of them tell either the Israeli story or the Palestinian story. The Palestinian story looks like this:

Israeli soldiers have shot dead one Palestinian and wounded two others after opening fire on a car at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank.


Palestinian medical and security sources said Akram Dair, 40, was driving in a car before dawn on Monday when border guards near Ramallah opened fire on him and the two other Palestinian passengers in the car.

It was unclear why the Israelis fired at the car as it approached the checkpoint.


An Israeli army spokesman confirmed an “incident” had occurred on the road leading from the West Bank to Occupied Jerusalem, but could not provide further details, the AFP news agency reported.

West Bank Palestinians do not have the right to enter occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, without a permit from Israeli authorities.


The Israeli story looks like this:

Border Guard spokesman Shai Hakimi said that 40-year-old Akram Badr was traveling in a car that rammed through the a-Zaim checkpoint, near Ma’ale Adumim, at high speed and tried to run over the officers who ordered him to stop. The officers fired at the car, killing Badr. Another Palestinian was injured during the incident and the car’s driver was able to flee the scene.


What no news stories explain, however, is how the shooting is an explicit example of Apartheid. The Al Za’im checkpoint is on the Jerusalem – Ma’al Adumin road, and it is a checkpoint where only Israelis, internationals, and Palestinians living inside the apartheid wall are allowed to cross. Israelis are never stopped at this checkpoint. I travelled through it many times last year, and the only time I was stopped was when we were carrying a woman wearing a hijab. Palestinians are stopped routinely at this checkpoint to check that they have blue IDs or that they are Israeli citizens. Palestinians with a green ID and a permission to enter the ’48 lands are not permitted to cross here. 

The very fact that the car was asked to stop is an example of apartheid. If the car carried Jews or internationals, they would not have been asked to stop. The shooting is a result of the apartheid policy of keeping Palestinian residents of the West Bank from entering their homelands. It is essential for those trying to understand the apartheid analysis that Palestinians residing in the West Bank, between 1967 and the 2nd intifada, did not require a special permission to enter the ’48 lands. So while apartheid has existed in Israel since 1948, it has gotten much more explicit and worse with the building of the separation wall and the exclusion of the Palestinian residents of the West Bank from most of Palestine.

Things were not always like this. After the ’67 war Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank were able to visit, although not return to, the villages they fled in ’48. The viewing of Palestinians as a security threat, and therefore dehumanizing their needs and desires, has always been an aspect of Zionist society but has not been consistent and to the same degree across the time of occupation.

The exclusion of Palestinians form the ’48 lands and from East Jerusalem is against indigenous rights, against Palestinian rights, and against human rights. The enemy here is Israel’s viewing of the land’s native population as their enemy. Zionism must transform itself from the inside such that it does not see Arabs as a “demographic threat”, but the people to whom this land belongs. If they do this, they will find there is enough land for everyone. If they don’t, there will be war and oppression for ever.

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