Palestinian Reportedly Crushed to Death Amid 'Extreme Overcrowding' at Checkpoint

Incident marks second such death in a year at border crossing near Tul Karm in West Bank.

Emil Salman

A Palestinian laborer has been crushed to death in a notoriously overcrowded West Bank checkpoint that was the scene of a spontaneous strike last week by thousands of Palestinian workers.

Citing eyewitnesses, the Ma'an news agency reported Wednesday that Ahmad Samih Bdeir, 39, suffocated in the morning while on line amid the "extreme overcrowding" at the Al-Tayba checkpoint, also known as Sha'ar Ephraim, near Tul Karm, across the Green Line from Netanya. Officials at the Palestinian Federation of Trade Unions said 15,000 Palestinian employees pass to and from their jobs in Israel every day.

Bdeir's death marked the second such fatality at Al-Tayba in 2014; in January Adel Muhammad Yakoub, 59, died there under the same circumstances.

The Palestinian news agency reported that the checkpoint is operated by the Israel Defense Forces and a private contractor. Palestinians with permits to work in Israel pass through metal turnstiles, then through metal detectors, then through inspection stations. The lines move very slowly, with workers often crowded into metal pens, unable to move in the crush of people.

On Sunday of last week, some 5,000 Palestinian workers at the checkpoint in the morning spontaneously refused to go through, striking their jobs in Israel for the day because of what they described as the "humilating" conditions at Al-Tayba.