Machsom Watch: Documenting Checkpoints & Military Courts in Palestine & Israel

Machsom Watch Site

On a cold February morning in 2001, five pioneering Israeli women - Ronnee Jaeger, Adi Kuntsman, Yehudit Keshet, Yael Lavi-Jenner and Stephanie Black - arrived at Checkpoint 300 between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Inspired by similar actions in Guatemala, Ronnee Jaeger encouraged this group of women, who saw themselves as subversive and radical, to challenge the Israeli military on it's own ground. The five women who started Machsom Watch had a clear agenda - to monitor the behaviour of the military, monitor (and protect) Palestinian Human Rights and bear witness to what was happening. 'Machsom' is a Hebrew word meaning 'barrier' or 'checkpoint'.

Why We Like It

While Machsom Watch is not expressly about 'women's rights' we believe it is an important documentation initiative by a group of women's human rights activists in this region. As the histories of Palestine and Israel have unfolded against the waves of Intifadas, persistent violent conflict, the changing political formations in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the blockading of Gaza, the women volunteers of Machsom Watch have been quietly documenting daily events. Their focus is on reporting incidents occuring at all the checkpoints across Palestine, and in Israeli military courts. They compile summaries of events and highlight certain key themes and concerns. By doing so, Machsom Watch have built up an impressive database of incidents that is a testament to the actions of the military.

We Liked the Map!

One of their earlier websites displayed detailed observation data in the form of a map. Their  current website does not use the mapping function any longer, preferring to organise information into videos, photos, 'spotlights' and detailed observation reports. Somehow, the map-based visualisation gave a strong sense of stories of the land and location organised neatly together, and that is also the history of this region. Additionally, in using a map a viewer unfamiliar with the area could get a visual sense of how small this area is and how tightly spaces are being policed, how close together (or far away) they are. We hope Machsom Watch will bring back their map!

Source: Machsom Watch

Website: http://machsomwatch.org/en  

Year: Since 2001