Since 2001 we have observed dozens of army checkpoints on paved and unpaved roads in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley and along the Separation Fence; Civil Administration offices which grant permits to Palestinians; and military courts trying Palestinian prisoners. We stand at the checkpoints observing the behavior of soldiers and Palestinians without interfering, intervening only when soldiers behave offensively to Palestinians. Then we try to speak to the soldiers themselves or telephone...
'Azzun, 'Azzun 'Atma, Eliyahu Crossing, Falamiya, Habla, Kufr Jammal, Mon 2.7.12, Morning
Comment 1: “Is it normal for a person to have to be inspected at a checkpoint and pass through a fence in order to go from his village to his ancestral lands…? That’s what a Palestinian asked after leaving his car by the side of the road to the Falamya checkpoint and crossing on foot to his lands.
Comment 2: The Eliyahu checkpoint (crossing) has become a park, blooming with shrubs, trees and flowers; paved paths, bordered by carpets of bright green artificial grass and mosaic pavements in the Spanish Gaudi style. This “park” is like the Chanukkah candles, only to look at, not to be used. It’s at the entrance on the Israeli side. (Photos of this artistic creation to follow).
I can’t think of a heading for my two comments, but I feel they’re connected…
06:05 'Azzun 'Atma
Laborers who’ve already gone through the checkpoint sit outside eating breakfast. They say “the checkpoint is normal today.” About 70 people wait to cross, but more keep arriving so the line doesn’t get any shorter.
Twenty people at a time are let through the revolving gate and then wait for document inspection. Both computers are working and inspection is quick. The gate people must go through to collect their belongings is also open; people enter freely with no delays. (which just shows how unnecessary it is).
People coming through are much calmer. Their long, hard day may begin slightly less stressed.
06:35 A man who got on line when we arrived comes through 30 minutes later.
The line has shortened, apparently because the crossing is quicker and calmer. We see that it’s possible.
06:40 Tamar gate
More Palestinians are crossing here, which may relieve some of the pressure at the main gate.
The soldiers are here already, but haven’t begun letting people cross.
L., the MP who ensures that justice prevails, opens the gate and orders inspections to begin.
07:05 The first five enter and come out 2.5 minutes later. The second five waiting at the forward revolving gate have already entered.
The elderly guard from the plant nurseries who arrived with his donkey cart when we did waits patiently for his “turn.”
One of the soldiers asks why we’re not doing anything about the donkey who’s tied inhumanely with a rope that’s too short. When I comment that this isn’t the only inhumane thing here the second soldier changes the topic in an attempt at humor. It’s the turn of the elderly guard to enter for a quick inspection, including a rapid check of his cart and belongings, and he goes through.
26 people crossed in twelve minutes. The line doesn’t get shorter because additional people keep joining it.
07:35 Eliyahu checkpoint
I already commented on the “beauty” of the entrance.
No Palestinians wait to enter.
Three cars are being inspected, doors open, dogs in action. A car with Israeli plates exits the inspection area toward Israel.
07:50 Heavy road-paving equipment is parked at the entrance to 'Azzun.
We drive to the Falamya agricultural gate that’s open all day for farmers with permits to reach their land on the other side of the separation fence.
08:00 We meet a farmer who has a crossing permit for himself but not for his car, which he leaves in the shade of a tree and goes through on foot to his land. He asks whether we’ve heard of any other country in the world where such things happen…
A few tractors show up, carrying riders. All are inspected and go through. One tractor drives on the security road and turns left to the fields far off toward Kochav Yair.
08:30 We drive to Kafr Jimal, to find out what the situation is.
Z., who owns the grocery, and his wife welcome us happily. They’ve renovated the grocery and installed a new air conditioner.
They talk about the situation, hope things will be quiet and that everyone will be able to make a living.
The additional agricultural gate that was examined by the DCO head wasn’t approved, but they (and we) were promised that it would open for the olive harvest and the plowing. We’ll follow up on that promise.
The village is quiet. It has good relations with Sla’it, the nearby settlement, which doesn’t harass them. Many of the villagers work in the factories in Sla’it, and farmers also go through the gate near the settlement without interference to work their lands. The army doesn’t come to the village, nor to Jayyus nearby.
09:30 An armored vehicle is by the roadside outside of 'Azzun on our way back.