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The glossary is comprised of nearly 250 terms related to the Israeli-Palestinian context. Given the rapidly shifting landscape, these terms cannot capture the full range of nuances, narratives and historical events. This tool is meant as a starting point and we encourage you to continue your exploration of this topic through further research. Last update and review: September 2015.


Roadblocks or military installations used by military forces to control and restrict pedestrian movement and vehicle traffic. The Israeli army makes widespread use of checkpoints in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) in order to control the movement of Palestinians between Palestinian cities within the OPT the and between the OPT and Israel. Checkpoints can be large, semi-permanent structures resembling border crossings, such as the Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem or the Hawara checkpoint, formerly between Nablus and Ramallah, or smaller barriers on roadways or at the entrance of Palestinian villages. There are also temporary checkpoints, often referred to as "flying" checkpoints. There have been (or currently still are) checkpoints at the entry and exit points of most large Palestinian populated areas in the West Bank, on every major road within the West Bank, and at every crossing point between Israel and the OPT, in addition to many smaller checkpoints within the West Bank. The Israeli military forces at a checkpoint exercise total control over movement through the checkpoint, including the authority to check the identity papers of every driver, passenger and/or pedestrian who wishes to pass through. At certain checkpoints, soldiers refuse passage to all who have not obtained Israeli-issued permits. Palestinians and Israeli observers cite frequent incidences of delay and harassment of Palestinian civilians at checkpoints, regardless of the status of their papers. According to the Israeli Army, a checkpoint is a "security mechanism to prevent the passage of terrorists from Palestinian Authority (PA) territory into Israel while maintaining both Israeli and Palestinian daily routine," used to "facilitate rapid passage of Palestinians while providing maximal security to Israeli citizens." Palestinians consider the checkpoints a major obstacle to daily life as the checkpoints prevent freedom of movement in their territory. For facts, figures and maps, see Machsom Watch's website and "West Bank Movement and Access," UNOCHA, June 2010. See also infographic "Born at Qalandia Checkpoint," Visualizing Palestine.