40. By Qalandia checkpoint
Qalandia, West Bank - Palestine
Giclée print on Hahnemühle photo rag paper
42 x 30 cm
5/5 edition (+ AP)
A food stand outside of Qalandia checkpoint with a blackened guard tower of the Separation Barrier in the background. This checkpoint is the main crossing point for Palestinians travelling from the central and Northern West Bank to Jerusalem. Sitting between an industrial park and the abandoned Qalandia/Atarot airfield, the checkpoint straddles the heavily graffitied Separation Barrier. It is a grim section of the West Bank, like looking into the dystopian future that is already real for a people. Like other checkpoints, Qalandia has evolved over the years from a small roadblock manned by a handful of soldiers to a terminal complex with 'cattle run' like cages for queuing and ID checks with magnetic swipe cards and fingerprint scanners. Qalandia was the first checkpoint developed into a terminal along the lines of the Spiegel Plan in 2005. The funding from the development came from US Aid money earmarked for the Palestinian Authority as outlined by Eyal Weizman in 'Hollow Land':
Their construction was to be partially funded by the '2005 US Emergency Aid to the Palestinians' which was intended, according to President Bush, 'to support Palestinian political, economic, and security reforms'. However, the 'pro-Israeli' US Congress made it difficult for the White House to hand out any of this aid directly to the Palestinian Authority. Out of the $200 million allocated for the use of the Palestinians in 2005, Israel received $50 million to help fund the construction of terminals. American money meant to help the Palestinians was therefore used to fund one of the most blantant apparatuses of the occupation, demonstrating how distorted American perception could be when they believe, contrary to all evidence gathered during four decades of occupation, that Israel knows best how to spend Palestine's money on its behalf, and that oiling the cogs of the occupation is somehow in the Palestinian interest. (Weizman, 2007, p. 150)
From experience, Israeli guards at the checkpoint are vigilant against photographs. While inside the checkpoint taking photos, I heard a loud voice boomed over the loudspeaker in Hebrew. It needed no direct translation but came out roughly as "Photographer, piss off!".