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...
'Atarot, Mon 19.12.11, Morning
The terrible routine continues as usual even though everything appears quiet and organized.
06:30 'Azzun 'Atma – A huge line of about 100 people stretches on the 'Azzun Atma side. Many who already crossed sit by the roadside waiting for their rides, lighting small fires to keep warm. They arrived at the checkpoint at 04:00 to insure they cross on time. Since they went through relatively early (they must have waited an hour or longer), they’re now waiting again to begin work. Two inspection booths are open; a third opens as 07:00 approaches, outside, but that’s not enough. Why didn’t it open earlier? When we saw a man on line dressed in a way we could remember we timed him – though we began timing only when he’d already been on line for awhile, with twenty more behind him. It took him 35 minutes to get through. That is, even after most people already crossed he still waited more than 40 minutes. It’s the same every day, just to get to work, not to mention another line when he returns home in the evening.
Why can’t more inspection booths be installed to make the crossing faster? After all, Israel needs these workers as an inexpensive and skilled labor force. Is the IDF really so short of soldiers? If three additional women soldiers from the Military Police, who conduct the inspections, were stationed there, they wouldn’t require more guards from combat units, and it would make a huge difference for those going through. Don’t we owe it to those we’ve conquered?
When two inspection booths were open, ten people crossed in five minutes.
People holding a 00 permit go through the vehicle gate. The children on their way to school crossed quickly but only after their belongings were checked. What do we care what they bring into 'Azzun 'Atma – it can’t hurt us. It looks like simple harassment. Two children arrive; their documents are also checked. Why theirs and not the others’ – only the god of the army knows.
07:15 The line hasn’t gotten any shorte ryet – people keep arriving at about the same rate as others go through.
An armored military vehicle arrives, with what appears to be someone caught because he was present in Israel illegally. He’s taken behind the position for about ten minutes and then sent, “with all due respect,” to 'Azzun 'Atma with his documents. Another man is sent back with his belongings, goes to the vehicle area and returns again. We asked him why; he said he had a sweatshirt in his bag that he wasn’t allowed to bring through.
07:25 The line slowly grows shorter; it now numbers only about 60 people.
Two men were made to stand off to the side, then sent back after a long discussion with the female MP. From her body language it looks as if she’s telling them she has no choice and they have to go back.
We drove via the Emmanuel road to Funduq and Hars, then to Jubara – a tractor passed returning to Jubara, as well as a few people.
09:00 To Kafr Jimal. We stopped at the grocery. No news regarding the people whose permits were cancelled. As you know, some of the olive groves weren’t harvested, the olives remaining on the trees because the owners weren’t given enough time to pick them, and certainly not to prune the trees and plow the earth – work that we see being done in all the groves on the West Bank. In other words, now is the time to do it.
09:20 Falamiya checkpoint – Quiet at this hour, as usual. A tractor comes back from spraying and a few people cross.
09:50 – The Eliyahu crossing is quiet, no people on line and three cars being inspected.