Checkpoint 300, 2019

Bethlehem, West Bank

Checkpoint 300 is a site-specific film made within the main turnstile at terminal Checkpoint 300 in Bethlehem. The crossing in its current format was established in 2005 as part of Israel’s separation wall and thousands of Palestinians from the southern occupied West Bank must cross this barrier to work in occupied East Jerusalem. Turnstiles represent an important component in the management of people’s movement through Checkpoint 300, made from steel arms that are 55 cm long; that is, about 20–25 cm shorter than the standard turnstile arms commonly used in Israel.

The Israeli Ministry of Defence asked the manufacturer to reduce the length of the arms so that they can easily press against the body of Palestinian commuters, ensuring that nothing is hidden under their clothes (Weizman, 2007). What this means to the people passing through is that parents are separated from their children and workers from their equipment. This fieldwork is focused on one of the busiest checkpoints in the West Bank, Checkpoint 300 where between 4,000 to 6,000 workers cross daily between 4 am to 7 am to reach their places of employment in East Jerusalem and Israel. It can take up to three hours to cross the checkpoint during the rush hour.

A small camera rig was made and installed within a turnstile on the Bethlehem side to record the daily movement of Palestinians crossing the border for work. The recording is activated as the turnstile is pushed, framing it as a spatial political technology aimed at controlling the movement of Palestinians.

This film was made in response to Alexandra Rijke’s Inside Checkpoint 300: Checkpoint Regimes as Spatial Political Technologies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (2019).