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Checkpoint near Abu Dis, the West Bank
A search conducted by the British at the entrance to Tel Aviv in the 1940s.

Civilian checkpoints or security checkpoints are distinguishable from border or frontier checkpoints in that they are erected and enforced within contiguous areas under military or paramilitary control. Civilian checkpoints have been employed within conflict-ridden areas all over the world to monitor and control the movement of people and materials in order to prevent violence. They have also been used by police during peacetime to help counter terrorism.

Contemporary examples

Iraq Army soldier mans a checkpoint during Operation Red Light II
US Army tanks and Soviet tanks at Checkpoint Charlie, 1961

Though practices and enforcement vary, checkpoints have been used in:

Checkpoint in North Korea


Checkpoints provide many advantages, including the ability to control how people enter so that security personnel (be it governmental or civilian) can screen entrants to identify known troublemakers (be they criminals, terrorists, or simple rabble-rousers) and locate contraband items.

Effects of checkpoints

Checkpoints typically lead to hardship for the affected civilians, though these effects range from inconvenience to mortal danger. Bir Zeit University, for example, has conducted several studies highlighting the effects of checkpoints in the Palestinian territories.[1][2]

In Colombia, the paramilitary forces of the AUC have, according to Amnesty International, imposed limits on the food entering villages, with over 30 people being killed at the checkpoint in one instance.[3]

See also