Israeli checkpoints save lives

Israeli checkpoints save lives

Last week, members of the Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee and Students for Justice in Palestine demonstrated at the corner of Murray and Forbes avenues. They created mock checkpoints to protest the ones that the Israeli Defense Forces have set up along the West Bank.
The demonstrators held up signs that noted how many women have been killed at checkpoints, and included free Palestine slogans and denouncements of Israel’s actions. After The Chronicle published the story about the demonstration in last week’s issue, comments were posted on the Web site detailing how unnecessary these checkpoints were.
Checkpoints in the Palestinian territory have existed since 1967. But it wasn’t until around 1993 that they began to stir up trouble, and it wasn’t until around 2000 that the international media saw them as a potential nightly story.
While we agree that the checkpoints are an enormous hassle for the Palestinians who try to cross them on a daily basis, they are in no way unnecessary.
Yes, it is true that between 2000 and 2006, 68 Palestinian women have given birth at Israeli checkpoints and that five of those women have died giving birth. It is unfortunate that those deaths occurred, but how many Israeli lives have those checkpoints saved?
It takes a simple Google search on Israeli checkpoints to read the countless articles posted by Israeli media sources citing daily stops, arrests and sometimes even lethal takedowns of Palestinians trying to bring explosives into Israel.
Every vehicle is checked by the IDF — even ambulances. During the demonstration in Squirrel Hill last week, checking the ambulances was called crazy.
It might seem crazy to require a Palestinian ambulance to stop, but because of an incident in 2002, no one is immune to the checkpoints.
Explosives were found in a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance trying to enter Israel. Ambulances should never be loaded with explosives, but sadly, terrorists do not see it that way.
The checkpoints are a nuisance; it can take anywhere from 10 to 90 minutes to pass through them. However, as checkpoints get tougher to cross, suicide bombings are declining in Israel.
We wish it were possible to have no checkpoints, but last week’s demonstrators should realize what those checkpoints are protecting. The demonstrators call it a violation of Palestinians’ rights to travel; we call it a protection of innocent Israelis.
Until Israelis can be guaranteed their safety, those checkpoints must remain in the West Bank. And if bombers can still somehow sneak into Israel, then perhaps harsher restrictions need to be made — no matter how inconvenient they are.