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Crushed to death: Palestinian man dies at overcrowded West Bank checkpoint

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Ephraim/Taybeh checkpoint, West Bank, Occupied Palestine (photo:David Heap/EAPPI)

Ma’an news reports a man was crushed to death on Sunday at the Ephraim/Taybeh checkpoint near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem in the West Bank. He was on his way to work.

Witnesses told Ma’an that 59-year-old Adel Muhammad Yakoub from the northern West Bank village of Balaa died as a result of extreme overcrowding inside the Ephraim/Taybeh checkpoint.

They highlighted that some 10,000 Palestinian workers cross through the checkpoint every day and that inspection procedures at the checkpoint go very slowly causing dangerous levels of overcrowding inside the checkpoint.

The victim left behind a wife and seven children, aged 11-16. He is reported to have suffered from heart disease.

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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34 Responses

  1. Woody Tanaka
    Woody Tanaka on January 6, 2014, 12:30 pm

    Disgusting and predictable murder by the zionists.

  2. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870 on January 6, 2014, 12:40 pm

    RE: “Ma’an news reports a man was crushed to death on Sunday at the Ephraim/Taybeh checkpoint near the Palestinian city of Tulkarem in the West Bank.” ~ Annie Robbins

    MY COMMENT: Looking at that photo of Palestinians waiting to pass through the Ephraim/Taybeh checkpoint, I am reminded of the “chutes” they run cattle through at feed lots and such (except that the ones for cattle are sometimes nicer). There too, I think there are a few deaths in the process.

    FROM WIKIPEDIA [The Cattle Call]:

    [EXCERPT] “The Cattle Call” is a song written and recorded in 1934 by American songwriter and musician Tex Owens.[1] It became a signature song for Eddy Arnold.
    Owens wrote the song in Kansas City while watching the snow fall. “Watching the snow, my sympathy went out to cattle everywhere, and I just wished I could call them all around me and break some corn over a wagon wheel and feed them. That’s when the words ‘cattle call’ came to my mind. I picked up my guitar, and in thirty minutes I had wrote the music and four verses to the song,” he said.[2] He recorded it again in 1936. . .

    SOURCE –

    The Original CATTLE CALL by Tex Owens 1934 [VIDEO, 03:02] –

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka on January 6, 2014, 12:47 pm

      I’m reminded of the cattle cars in which the Jews were similarly overstuffed as they were being sent to the camps.

      • Obsidian
        Obsidian on January 6, 2014, 11:49 pm

        These Arabs are going to work, not to an extermination camp.
        Not to minimize this poor man’s death, but I’ve been in New York City subway cars that were no less crowded.

      • annie
        annie on January 7, 2014, 12:34 am

        this is for you, just in case you don’t think i do my homework when i write these posts.

        New Terminals at West Bank Checkpoints

        (June 7, 2005)

        Throughout Judea and Samaria in recent months, new checkpoint facilities have been opened to enable speedy and efficient security checks in a minimum of time. This is intended to ease the live of the Palestinian residents who aren’t involved in bringing terror to Israel.

        The checkpoints are manned with advanced automatic inspections, complete with computerized systems that enable the precise and rapid identification of those passing through with continuous and rapid updating, with x-rays and metal detectors.

        The improved crossings have been erected in both in places which did and did not previously have checkpoints, and were placed after examining where it would be possible to preserve and even improve the lives of the Palestinians using them.

        Two of the checkpoints are already operating in terminals: one at the Shaar Ephraim Checkpoint, which opened at the end of June west of Tul Kerem;

      • annie
        annie on January 7, 2014, 12:38 am

        I’ve been in New York City subway

        got it. so you’re reminded of a nyt subway and woody’s reminded of jews overstuffed as they were being sent to the camps.

        yet if one had to choose whether this reminded me more of new york city or germany circa 43, for many, it might be a tough choice(as opposed to an easy one). not too sure many would see it the way see it, as ” to ease the live of the Palestinian residents “.

        btw, i’ve been in a nyc subway and i don’t remember any cages. in fact i am quite certain i’ve never been in a cage such as this and i’ve been all over the world. the most jammed packed i can recall is the train terminal from hong kong to guangdong circa ’81. but we weren’t in cages.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka on January 7, 2014, 8:10 am

        No, these Palestinians are trying to go to work. They are prevented from doing so and forced to endure this purposeless, ritualized degradation, in their own land, at the hands of a bad of foreign thugs, for the same racist reasons and due to the same racist hate that put the Jews on the trains. The end result differs now, but the impetus is identical.

        And to compare it to the NYC subway is obscene. There, you may have a temporary crowding because of an overcapacity of infrastructure built for the public good. Here, by contrast, you have an artificial construct, born of racism and hate, whose sole purpose is to demoralize, oppress, and insult the humanity of these innocent people in their own land.

      • adele
        adele on January 7, 2014, 10:20 am

        the fact that you try to deflect the inhumane conditions that Palestinians endure at Israeli checkpoints by trying to compare it to an overcrowded subway car exposes your lack of humanity. I am glad you try to do this, because it reinforces why we keep fighting for human rights.

        Since you supposedly have experienced overcrowding in a subway car, I now suggest you share the cattle car experience that Palestinians endure multiple times daily and then report back to us.

        Lastly, when the Palestinians gain their freedom, land and self-determination, consider it an added bonus that in the process many Israelis will also be liberated from their self-imposed shackles of prejudice, intolerance and hatred.

  3. annie
    annie on January 6, 2014, 1:04 pm

    it’s mindcrunching how humanity accepts this as a permanent situation.

    some days are harder than others. a wife and 7 children. he was still young. it’s unbearable thinking of their loss.

  4. Bumblebye
    Bumblebye on January 6, 2014, 1:40 pm

    “This morning is worst than usual. The soldier controlling the first turnstile keeps locking it every few minutes. The bars rebound jarringly in the face of an old man and the queue halts for the fifth time. The crush of bodies intensifies for the next 20 minutes. Men begin shouting and complaining. Many climb over the top of the cage and queue-jump through gaps in the corrugated tin roof, desperate not to miss their busses and lose a day’s pay. When the turnstile finally opens again, 500 men surge through in 10 minutes calling ‘Yalla, yalla!’ (Go,go) to those ahead. One man stumbles, falls and is nearly trampled by the crowd pushing up behind. He is saved by another man who braces himself across the line whilst others haul the man to his feet.

    I ring the military ‘Humanitarian Hotline’ three times. The soldier answering tells me it is a new unit on duty today and they don’t know what they are doing. After a few minutes two armed security guards appear from the main terminal to reinforce the soldier, rather than help people in the cage. I speak to the guards from my observation spot alongside the cage, asking them to do something before someone gets trampled or crushed. One of the new security guards finally turns and yells at me, motioning towards the crowd in the cage, ‘You do something! This is not Israel!’ as if the it is the behaviour of the Palestinians that is the problem. ‘That’s right!’ I respond in astonishment at this admission, ‘This is not Israel – it is Palestine! But Israel built the checkpoint and (Separation) Wall’. He turns his back on me.”

    This year is International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

    • Sycamores
      Sycamores on January 7, 2014, 5:48 am

      hi Bumblebye,

      i read the numberplate link Posted on December 31, 2013

      this paragraph proves to me that the seperation wall has nothing to do with security but has everything to do with apartheid.

      “In addition to the thirty two thousand who are permitted to enter East Jerusalem and Israel, the Israeli authorities are well aware that another 20,000 West Bank Palestinians enter Israel without permits each day. Thousands of people, desperate for work, walk for hours across hills and through woods where the Barrier does not yet reach. The risks are high and many people serve repeated terms in Israeli prisons when they are discovered in Israel without a permit. A high proportion of the West Bank population was dependent on work in Israel before Israel began building the Separation Barrier in 2002. By then, the years of occupation since 1967 had dismantled the West Bank’s economy, with Israel controlling and taxing raw materials and products; the costs and uncertainty deterring investment.”

      if 20,000 West Bank Palestinians enter Israel without permits each day, one can logically deduce that the decrease in ‘terrorism’ has nothing to do with the wall but the willingness of the Palestinians to seek a non-violent path.

      anyone of the 20,000 Palestinians could easily carry bombs or other weapons into israel exposing how useless the wall is. again the fact that they don’t says everything.

  5. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby on January 6, 2014, 2:04 pm

    Humm how could palestinian hate Israel? Why is that? How can that be huh?

  6. Kate
    Kate on January 6, 2014, 3:20 pm

    Unspeakable. No excuses, none.

    • just
      just on January 6, 2014, 6:07 pm

      They’ll find some way to blame it on his heart………

      His poor family and friends. I don’t even know how they will find any comfort– ever.

  7. LanceThruster
    LanceThruster on January 6, 2014, 7:30 pm

    I get claustrophobic just looking at those packed cattle chutes.


  8. talknic
    talknic on January 6, 2014, 9:36 pm

    Do many Israelis have to go thru Palestinian checkpoints to get to work?

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka on January 7, 2014, 7:19 am

      None, of course. You see, to treats Jews like this would be antisemitic; to complain when Jews treat others like this is also antisemitic. That’s how the “using claims of antisemitism to shield zionism’s crimes” scam works.

  9. Taxi
    Taxi on January 6, 2014, 11:37 pm

    Absolutely sickening picture of an absolutely abhorrent psychotic procedure.

    My caged chickens have more room to roam!

    The picture above is absolute proof that there is not a single civilized and moral reason why the state of israel should exist. Not even in a cage of its own making should it exist!!!!

    Hey miriam, hey oleg and all you other lousy apologists for Apartheid out there, I hope you and your racist leaders are stuffed thus into cages outside the Hague; then dumped thus smack on the dead dirt of the moon – cuz that’s where sadistic loons like you deserve to be dumped and immediately forgotten!!

  10. Obsidian
    Obsidian on January 6, 2014, 11:44 pm

    What’s the date on that photo Annie?
    Everyone pictured is wearing short sleeves and no jackets, which suggests that the photo wasn’t taken this month.

    • annie
      annie on January 7, 2014, 12:01 am

      summer 2012, the article was published oct 2012. it’s the same checkpoint, probably looks like that every day. why do you ask? does it make you uncomfortable seeing what occupation looks like? thousands of workers and other palestinian people, like students endure this crap there are 600 checkpoints in the west bank, or thereabouts.

      this is what israel’s military occupation looks like. this is the ugliness of zionism. it’s these peoples homes and land israel stole, so now they live (and die) like this because of people like you. i’ll never forget that.

      that’s why bds exists, because this is inhumane. the crime of apartheid is ugly. this is what and who you are representing here. take a bow.

      • annie
        annie on January 7, 2014, 12:20 am

        here’s more from the link:

        Newsletter 4: A day in the life

        “Got up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head…”

        Only John Lennon didnʼt do it at 3am.

        Itʼs Thursday so itʼs Tayʼbe Checkpoint monitoring. Two of us stumble from our apartment to a waiting taxi and after ten minutes drive bump across an unpaved expanse of open ground to the workersʼ checkpoint called Ephraim by the Israeli authorities. From the outside it looks like a large bus terminal, glowing fluorescently in the pre-dawn darkness. But our approach from the Palestinian side is through a gauntlet of food stalls with a rough corrugated roof and muddy earth passageway. Except during Ramadan arabic coffee, fresh pitta and flat bread, falafel, hummus, kebabs and burgers are available alongside phone cards, cigarettes in clear cellophane, tinned food and cold drinks. The atmosphere is noisy and good humoured. My cultural references are the ʻMad Maxʼ movies, the prole market in ʻ1984ʼ and the rough places in ʻBlade Runnerʼ (without the rain). Itʼs already around 25 degrees Celsius and the stream of arriving men and a few women is constant.

        After the food stalls they enter a wire fenced-in corridor 3 meters wide that narrows to one a meter wide. Imagine the annoying four way “snake” leading to airport security but instead of the flimsy waist high tapes an enclosed metal cage with a razor wire roof. At the end are three full length metal turnstiles controlled from within the Checkpoint. By 4am there are two hundred people crammed in there waiting for them to open.

        These people have ʻworkersʼ permits. Some are day labourers who need to be at the front of the queue so that they can be recruited at the exit by agents with buses ready to take them to construction sites. Some are engineers, accountants, office workers with jobs to go to. The women, we believe, are mainly domestic workers. What they all share is a permit that only allows them to enter Israel for a specified time: a few overnight or for the working week, but most only for the working day. But for them the “working day” starts in the middle of the night and is made up of a shared taxi minibus from home (often up to half an hour away), a wait for the Checkpoint to open, a series of inspections – hand luggage, body scan, handprint scan, permit check, several turnstiles and then a bus journey before they get to their jobs.

        At the end of the day the process is repeated: although itʼs a lot easier to get into the West Bank than to get out. We count up to 4,000 men and a hundred or so women in the 3 hours we are there. Before the Barrier was built up to 16,000 made the daily journey to work in Israel. The effect on the local economy and individual lives must be huge.

        But what worries us from our station outside the ʻcageʼ is that people who have 7am ʻtradersʼ permits start arriving as early as 4.30. ……

        By 6am the passageway is virtually jammed solid as the picture above shows. An argument, a misplaced foot or a carelessly handled cigarette could cause a serious incident. Itʼs Ramadan now (from mid-July to mid-August) so although there are no cigarettes nearly everyone has been fasting since daybreak. The lack of food or drink may not affect them yet but most Palestinian men seem to smoke, so moods canʼt be too relaxed. We are trying to get a local Trade Union to send volunteers to regulate the queue.

      • Obsidian
        Obsidian on January 7, 2014, 9:05 am

        Machsom Watch report

        09:00 Tayibe/Rumaneh checkpoint 10/24/13.
        “We must have come too late because it’s closed and no one’s waiting. The DCO updates us about the hours it’s open, but the soldier must have mixed up Jewish time and Palestinian time.”

        – See more at:

      • eljay
        eljay on January 7, 2014, 10:10 am

        >> “We must have come too late because it’s closed and no one’s waiting. The DCO updates us about the hours it’s open, but the soldier must have mixed up Jewish time and Palestinian time.”

        Israeli time and Palestinian time, I get. Jewish time, I don’t. Unless the person meant to say “supremacist ‘Jewish State’ time”.

      • annie
        annie on January 7, 2014, 2:17 pm

        i think they meant israelis don’t have to get up at 3 am to go to work, which is ‘palestinian time’.

    • Taxi
      Taxi on January 7, 2014, 12:02 am

      STFU obsidian! There’s a picture like this EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR!!!!!!

    • talknic
      talknic on January 7, 2014, 8:01 am

      Obsidian “the photo wasn’t taken this month”

      It’s been the same every month for lifetimes

  11. Refaat
    Refaat on January 7, 2014, 6:34 am

    what would Susan Abulhawa say here?

    The PAlestinian guy this time was not humiliated by Israel, but israel caused him to be crushed to death!

  12. Refaat
    Refaat on January 7, 2014, 6:41 am

    If Susan Abulhawa may allow me to alter her words a little bit

    “And all you can do is thank Allah that your wife and your babies are not there to hear [ your last whimpers, to see you crushed to death, grasping for breath]”

  13. Sumud
    Sumud on January 7, 2014, 9:11 am

    Yoav Shamir’s great and extremely frustrating 2003 documentary on the hell that is the checkpoints:

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