ما بعد حواجز التفتيش

Beyond Checkpoints

Samar Hazboun

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More than 67 Palestinian women were forced to give birth at checkpoints between 2000 and 2005. Comprehensive closures during the Second Intifada (2001) resulted in complete prohibitions on Palestinian movement into Israel, and between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These restrictions remain until this day and Israel stands behind this policy by arguing that it is necessary to protect its citizens.

This project explores a series of births that took place at checkpoints by pairing portraits with relevant belongings of the subjects involved. Whether it is a premature death certificate or clothes prepared for a child that were never worn, these elements were inanimate witnesses to an otherwise undocumented event. They aim to introduce personal narratives by taking the viewer into images beyond what is usually seen, inviting them to explore stories through their secondary characters. The project is an intersection of memory, loss, grief, and a sad truth that all that remains from these tragedies are mere objects that bear witness to a slowly fading history.

Palestine

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Amnah was 19-years-old when she was forced to give birth to her first child at a military checkpoint. Upon arriving at a checkpoint, they were held for five hours by Israeli soldiers. Her mother tried to explain her daughter's situation as she was bleeding heavily, but they refused to let her through. By the time they were able to take another route to reach the hospital, the baby had died in her womb.

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Kifah starting feeling birth pains at around 4 A.M. In order to reach a hospital, Kifah had to cross a checkpoint, but was denied permission to pass. As her husband was trying to convince the soldiers to let them pass, Kifah fell to the ground and started to give birth. As soon as the baby's head emerged, the soldiers allowed them to cross to a waiting ambulance. Kifah gave birth to her son at the checkpoint, causing him irreparable brain damage.

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Eight months pregnant and bleeding heavily, Tarab was prevented from crossing a checkpoint at 4 A.M. A puddle of blood formed beneath her seat as her husband negotiated with soldiers at a second checkpoint. They finally let them pass but only on foot. Her husband carried her in a cart to the hospital. The journey took them eight hours. The baby died in the womb thirty minutes before reaching the hospital.

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“He was beautiful. I've never seen such a beautiful baby. Like an angel...” - Ghaleb, father of a stillborn child at a checkpoint.

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“When I see children going to school, I feel intense pain. I imagine my son could've been one of them now.”

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Death certificates are issued for the families as proof of the child's death. Most certificates end up worn out and torn apart, just as these women’s hopes of ever achieving any justice.

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“Died in her womb. Soldiers at Huwwara checkpoint forbid a pregnant women bleeding heavily from reaching the hospital.”

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Due to extreme circumstances, Ahmed suffered from lack of oxygen while being born at a checkpoint. At the age of three months Ahmed still did not react to sound or moving objects. He has received medical treatment, but still suffers from eyesight problems and learning disabilities.

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“The soldier was blond. I will never forget him staring at me with his colleague and laughing as I was lying on the floor in labour.” - Kifah

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“I have no proof of what happened to me that day, except for this piece of cloth from what I was wearing that day. This bore witness to the worst day of my life.”

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An outfit belonging to a stillborn baby, which is the only trace the mother has of her tragic birth at a checkpoint.

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A traditional outfit bought by one of the mothers ahead of the child's birth.

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Al-Shuhada Street Checkpoint. At least three births have been documented at this checkpoint.

Samar Hazboun

Palestine

Born in Jerusalem and raised in the West Bank, Samar Hazboun is interested in political expression through art. Her work has primarily focused on women’s rights in the Middle East but extends more generally to those who have been marginalized by society. With more than 30 solo and group exhibitions around the world, and a number of features in the press, she has continually sought to engage an ever-broadening public with stories desperately in need of an audience.

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