Northern West Bank
Translator: Charles K.
5:55 – 8:10
“The female soldier sorted us as if we were tomatoes” (Shaked-Tura checkpoint)
A’anin checkpoint – 5:55 – On our way to the checkpoint we met laborers going to work. The checkpoint is quiet and the laborers go through without problems. We were told that about 100 people cross today, but that not all the family members of the farmers who own the olive trees have received permits for the harvest. So we see many women leaving by themselves to pick olives, without the male members of their family! We saw a handicapped woman, none of whose family members had received a permit, going to pick olives with hired laborers.
A resident who owns 15 olive trees next to the security road came over to us. Last year he didn’t receive a permit to pick (he did receive one two years ago), and this year he hasn’t yet received an answer and the olives are already ripe.
Reihan checkpoint – 6:30 – Many laborers from the West Bank who’ve already come through the checkpoint wait on the sidewalks for their rides to work. Ten minivans wait to take laborers to Barta’a.
B. complained that on Saturday afternoon the rate at which people went back through the checkpoint was particularly slow. Sometimes it’s also very slow in the morning, according to him because the security staff working in the terminal talk on the phone to each other, and when they do people don’t go through.
Cars carrying passengers cross quickly to the West Bank, 1-2 minutes.
People coming out of the terminal today say that the crossing goes quickly.
Seven pickup trucks loaded with agricultural produce wait to be inspected in the lower parking lot, eight others are already in the closed inspection area. A. tells us, “Everything’s normal, not much work.”
Next to the vehicle checkpoint there’s a lot of activity involving Israeli buses. Elementary school pupils from Shaked and Hinanit change cars on their way to school in the territories, high school students from Hermesh and Dothan change buses on their way to school in Israel.
7:05 - When we left, 12 people were waiting higher up for cars still being inspected in the closed area.
Shaked checkpoint 7:15 – During the olive harvest, the checkpoint is supposed to open at 6 AM, but each morning there’s some problem (today there was a problem with the gate key) and it only opens at 6:30. People and vehicles cross in both directions. About 50 men, women and children wait on the West Bank side next to the revolving gate. Schools are closed for the olive harvest and the children join their parents in the groves. Those coming through tell us they arrived at 5 AM to get a place on line, but when the checkpoint opened the female soldier arbitrarily sorted and chose who should go through, “as if she were choosing tomatoes.”
7:30 – We hear excited telling from the line that isn’t getting any shorter. People stop entering the checkpoint. A soldier with drawn weapon “restores order” and people begin going through again. Those coming out complain that the inspection room is working very slowly, “people are let in one at a time.” About seven people have been sitting a waiting a long time next to the revolving gate – apparently they haven’t yet been sorted by the female soldier.
At 7:50 we met three women with children at the exit from the checkpoint. They had arrived at the checkpoint at 6:30 and came through an hour and twenty minutes later. Now they’re waiting for the men, the first of whom exited only at 8:15. It will already be very hot by the time they reach their olive grove, located near Umm Reihan. They’ve lost three valuable hours of work. They told us about one farmer who wasn’t allowed to work today because his permit expires the day after tomorrow. They leave the olives they pick on site and are allowed to transport them home only in a special vehicle with a permit, for a price.
07:20 Shaked Checkpoint
are only two soldiers present. One is
wearing a helmet and the other has a mushroom-shaped head covering. There are
no flags or other military items about.
On the other side of the fence near Tura the area looks exposed and
open. Have the piles of dirt been
cleared away? There is evidently a
shortage of manpower. A tender arrives
with a driver whom we know and seven passengers get out. The driver does not talk to us because he is
certain that he will be called to go through, but the two soldiers wait: the
one with the helmet leans against the fence while the one with the
mushroom-shaped hat sits in a plastic chair watching the inspection booth. During the time the passengers are being
checked the driver honks occasionally to remind them that they are in a hurry,
but the soldiers take their time. When the driver was finally called we could
not hear what was said but we could tell by their motions and body
language. Two soldiers outside cannot
watch the vehicles and keep an eye on a family going into the inspection
facility at the same time. One of the people coming out was a resident of
Barta'a living in Tura who talked about events under the occupation while he
put his belt back on. He told about
soldiers coming into houses in Tura during the winter covered with mud and
conducting searches using violence. They
stood the men outside the house and pinned tags to their chests and
photographed them. While we were talking
to him another soldier appeared wearing a helmet and wrapped in a prayer shawl
and was praying. He continued to do so
until we left. Later the soldiers
managed to let two cars through – one from Tura and the other from Dar el
Malakh. After a telephone call it became clear that the meeting that was to
take place between the Liaison and Coordination Administration and Dar al
Malakh never took place. The female
soldier was evidently on vacation. We
left at 08:00. . . .
08:10 – Reihan Barta'a Checkpoint
everything is great and the occupation pleases everyone. The sleeve is empty and two windows are
open. The doors are slamming inside and
people are getting used to the new turnstile.
Someone says, "Today everything is going quickly. That's the way it should be."
On our way out we saw that few cars were waiting to be checked. NO cars are going south. A cleaning worker wheels a supermarket cart
with a large bottle inside. We left at
08:30. There were still 8 transits
waiting for passengers.
Translator: Charles K.
05:20 A’anin checkpoint
We wanted to reach the checkpoint when it opens during the olive harvest season, at 05:30, and arrived a little early. A., the DCO representative, already waited in front of the locked gate and another vehicle waited between the fences. Two more military cars arrived, opened the gate, and locked it again.
05:45 A soldier opens the gates 15 minutes late. The first tractor and a person on foot go through. They say that about 50 people are waiting. One person says a resident of Umm el Fahm stole olives from his grove.
Major M. from the DCO approaches us with N., a female officer. People complain that members of their family didn’t receive permits. M. says that not all the permits have been issued yet. About 1000 more permits will be issued for the olive harvest in the Jenin sub-district, many for A’anin residents. He says that if a farmer’s crops have been stolen he should call the DCO and they’ll send the police immediately.
Two youths weren’t allowed to cross. M. says that during the olive harvest season youths aged 12-16 are allowed to cross with a parent, like children under 12. At other times they need a permit.
06:40 We’re told that about 15 people are waiting.
M. shows us the gate-opening schedule during the olive harvest season:
A’anin checkpoint (Gate 214) 05:30-07:00, 15:00-16:30
Taibe-Rumana checkpoint (Gate 154) 06:00-06:30, 15:30-16:00
Shaked-Tura checkpoint (Gate 300) 06:00-09:00, 12:00-19:30
06:50 Reihan checkpoint
About 20 workers from Shahak sit on the curb next to the seam zone waiting for their ride, which is still being inspected.
07:00 Hermesh checkpoint
We wanted to reach the checkpoint at a time where in previous weeks we were told there were delays. On the way we saw, as usual, the locked gates on the “bridge.” They haven’t been opened as part of the “loosened restrictions.” The Hermesh checkpoint is open and not manned, traffic is light. A military vehicle stops next to us, afraid we intend to continue to Area A. Later A., the driver, tells us that lately the checkpoint has been opened 24 hours a day.
07:10 Dothan checkpoint
The checkpoint is open and manned. About ten cars waiting to cross from Jenin and four in the opposite direction. Some of the cars coming from the direction of Jenin are inspected. One is detained. Cars going toward Jenin cross without being checked. After about ten minutes, the car that had been detained goes through.
07:30 Reihan checkpoint
The Palestinian parking lot is already almost full at this hour. A group of pickup trucks waits for inspection in front of the vehicle checkpoint. Four cars wait at the upper vehicle checkpoint on their way to the West Bank.
07:50 Shaked-Tura checkpoint
Almost no traffic at this hour. The new opening hours are, “of course,” not listed on the gate to the checkpoint.
08:05 We left the checkpoint and gave a ride to Dahar al-Malik, who opened a restaurant two days ago in eastern Barta’a. Wants peace, misses the time when he worked in Israel. Invested all his savings in the restaurant. We wished him a great deal of luck.
Translation: Bracha B.A.
15:05 – A'anin
Soldiers are already at the checkpoint. The gate opened at 15:07. There are three tractors and six people near the gate – the same people who left in the morning. The routine of the olive harvest has begun but many of the farmers have not yet received permits to enter the seamline zone and others did not know of the possibility of going out to the olive groves on Sunday. One farmer told us that the Palestinian contacts reject requests for permits and tell them "Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow." One of the tractor drivers complains about the Bedouin who steal olives from his grove.
At 15:20 the soldiers prepare to close the gate. During the olive harvest it will remain open until 16:30.
15:30 – Shaked-Tura
A few cars drive through quickly in both directions.
A 60-year old farmer from Yabed who has 500 olive trees tells us that there are no permits for children and grandchildren to work in the harvest, which is due to begin October 15th. The requests for permits are held up somewhere between the Yabed Municipality and the Palestinian contacts and Salem.
15:55 – Reihan Barta'a
There are a few cars in the upper parking lot. An Israeli contractor who brought workers to the checkpoint says that one of them has been working for him for 15 years, and asks us to do something so that people will be allowed to come through Reihan Checkpoint in the morning. At 16:00 the gate to the vehicle inspection facility opens, and four cars drive out. Six cars are waiting to enter the inspection facility.
Workers who came through Ephraim gate in the morning said that the situation there was awful.
At 16:30 there are about 20 people waiting in front of the turnstile. We hear shouting inside the terminal and after about 7 minutes an elderly man comes out leaning on a cane. He is angry and is the one who was shouting. He has just been released from the hospital and they want him to go through the X-ray machine again and again. He refused. He already went through the machine, already lifted his shirt. What more do they want? He uttered a colorful curse and left.
Workers pass through the terminal within 7 minutes after they arrive. Five people who were in Israel illegally are waiting on the bench for five minutes and then enter the terminal. A man with an oxygen mask and his wife are waiting on the bench for someone to pick them up.
Who gains from the occupation? This time - the new turnstile: so it's the Kalram Company.
At the exit from the inspection rooms - inside the terminal two windows were open and the queue proceeded relatively quickly. People came out quite calmly. The seamstresses who reached the yellow gate at 07:10 left the sleeve at 07:30. A few go through the new turnstile (you just have to touch it, and it turns automatically). For many of those who come out it is more convenient to go through the turnstile that they know, even though they have to bend down and go under the fence in order to get to the water fountain that is stuck there. The traffic in the sleeve continues. Near the yellow entrance gate there is no queue, and the corridors also appear to be empty.
07:45 The minibus from Barta'a: Now there is the ritual of "ironing" the documents facing the guard at the post with his rifle drawn. At 08:00 the minibus goes on its way. The vehicle inspection area is closed; people who went through a quarter of an hour ago or more are waiting for cars to emerge. One of them, a tradesman from Barta'a jokes: When he traveled to China, he presented his passport once when he went away and once when he came back. And today it takes more than two hours to cover the ten minute distance between Yaabed and Barta'a , and he will have to present his document five or ten times.
08:10 The yellow arm rises. One of the drivers opens the gate and seven cars come out and collect their passengers.
08:15, We left (thirteen Transits are waiting for passengers).
a. On Friday, 8.10.10, in the afternoon, Revital phoned in this report:
At 17:30, Hatib from Daher el Malek called and told me that the soldiers at CP300 had damaged his brother Muhammed's car very badly. He called the DCO and there he was told, "The soldiers are allowed to do whatever they feel like doing." I called the DCO at Salem (04-6407312); Shadi answered and tried to connect me with his commander. The commander did not answer, because he was driving to the CP. When I asked Shadi if he could, after all, tell me what he knows, until I can talk to the commander, he said that the soldiers had closed the CP because somebody had left his car in the middle of the road.
I was not there, so I do not know how to describe any more of what happened.
Five male soldiers and two women soldiers and no flag. It seem that the soldiers have a lot of free time (two-three years in the regular army) to waste on the residents of the district who want to go through. It seems that everything is happening in slow motion -- and this will be confirmed later by the people going through. The black net has been taken down.
A soldier sits inside the concrete three sided squarewithout any cover, with his rifle drawn. Mothers with children in carriages have gone through. We tried to find out about the incident with the vehicle on Friday evening. From a telephone call, we understood that M. is having the car repaired in Barta'a and that on Sunday or Monday, there will be a discussion in Salem about the demands of the residents of Daher-el Malek.
08:50 A white car crosses the gate; the driver stops and asks to talk to us. The young man talked and talked and talked about this CP which is stuck in the everyday life of the residents of the district, and especially those of Daher el-Malek and Tura - and on their land. Today he is working as a driver. He told us that this morning he arrived from Nablus and stood at the entrance to the CP near Tura from 7:00 to 08:50 (the hour at which we met). We asked him about what had happened on Friday. He was not there, but knew that because of the damage done to M.'s car, all the residents of the village brought their permits to the CP and asked to hand them over to the DCO, and because of this protest, they were promised that there would be a discussion in Salem about their demands.
After this, he went on with stories about difficulties in the past (some of them known to us). He spoke about all the trouble that there is these days. Shir, the M.P. Commander at the CP acts toward the people as if she is God talking down to rags. If an "old-sick-dead-moving with difficulty" person arrives, she insists that he go through the inspection pavilion. The asthmatic girl is still obligated to go through the pavilion. On 12.09.10 at 14:50 they closed the two gates of the CP, and notified the people that they have to clean the area of the CP between the gates, and that they will not be allowed to go through befor they finish cleaning. "What is this? Are we their cleaning laborers?" He did not clean! But he took pictures (the pictures are attached to this report).
Once, while he was entering the inspection pavilion and waiting there, he saw two soldiers (a man and a woman) caressing and kissing (his description of the sight was hesitant and apologetic). "Me - I don't care! Let them do whatever they want to. But what about my wife? And what about our children?"
Two male soldiers and two women soldiers complied with our request and came to the gate. After their first amazement at the question about the Friday incident, Shir, the Commander of the Military Police, described an unimportant argument between herself and the man whose car was damaged -- because of the unnecessary stubbornness of the owner of the car. A soldier who was presented as religious (so that we shouldn't take his picture on the Sabbath) claimed that everything that we heard derives from arguments and long-standing internal conflicts of the Palestinians themselves.
Shir declared, "I know that I am completely at peace with what I do. I'm guarding my state." And she added: "Madam, it's impossible to change the world." After this declaration, the four soldiers returned to their post. And then, when we were about to leave the place, a man with a child came out, and told us that yesterday, instead of inspecting him and letting him go through, he saw the male soldier "playing" with the woman soldier. And he added that he complained to the officer. It is not clear to whom he complained, because he left immediately before we could ask for more details.
08:45 - Shaked Tura checkpoint
Only a few went through. A representative of the DCO came over to speak with us.He told us that the issue of the girl who suffers from Asthma was resolved (report of 29.9.10) she would no longer be required to be inspected inside the cabin but rather outside. We inquired about the driver Y. who owns a chicken coop located on both sides of the separation fence and often he is detained at the checkpoint.
The DCO person said there should be no problem with him.
Six trucks waited for inspection on the main road. Drivers say that they've been waiting for an hour. Another group of trucks was already inside under inspection.
At the Palestinian car park area three sleepy driver were waiting for passengers, who didn't come We were told that the olive harvest has started. Whole families are working and there is no free time for rides.
11:00 We left the checkpoint
Translation: Bracha B.A.
05:50 Reihan Barta'a Checkpoint
The checkpoint is open and the first people are passing through. About 20 men are going into the terminal from the Palestinian side and about 20 seamstresses are sitting on the sidewalk waiting. After a few minutes everyone goes in. More workers and seamstresses arrive. About 150 seamstresses from the West Bank work in three factories in Barta'a. They begin work at 06:00 if they are not held up at the checkpoint.
A, the driver, reports that the Hermesh Checkpoint closes at 09:00 at night and opens again at 07:00 in the morning and that there are no problems. At the Dotan Checkpoint, on the other hand, things have been difficult lately. 8 tenders are waiting in the parking lot and are loaded with merchandise. At 05:45 they are called to drive up to the entrance to the inspection point.
A man tells us that he is married to a woman from East Barta'a where she lives with their children and he is not allowed to visit except for one-time permits to drive a sick child to the hospital. His requests to live with his wife and children have been ignored.
06:05 A'anin Checkpoint
The first farmers have arrived. They tell us that about 50 people came this morning and meanwhile about 200 permits were issued for the olive harvest that will begin next week. We cannot see the people waiting. We hear a loud argument going on. Evidently an elderly woman wanted to send two bottled of olives to her family in the seamline zone and was not permitted to send them. She said that her son and daughter-in-law and daughter were not issued permits. A representative of the Liaison and Coordination Administration says that a lot of permits will be issued in the next few days. A representative also says that elderly people whose families do not receive permits should submit a request to the Liaison and Coordination Administration through the regional council.
The olive harvest will begin on October 10th and the A'anin checkpoint will be open every day but the hours have not yet been determined.
10 children from the Bedouin village below the checkpoint arrive on a donkey and let their "vehicle go and wait to be driven to school.
06:50 Not everyone has gone through yet. An elderly woman complains about the magnometer and says that it is not appropriate for men to check women in this way.
07:15 – Shaked Tura Checkpoint
There is traffic in both directions. The school children's names are checked against the list and their school bags are opened. Students have to pass through the inspection booth. A resident of A'anin whose fields are near the checkpoint passes through. For reasons that are not clear he is permitted to go through sometimes and other days he is not allowed despite the fact that he has a permit.
07:55 Hermesh Checkpoint
The checkpoint is open and unmanned.
08:05 – Dotan
The checkpoint is manned and there is traffic in both directions. Soldiers are checking randomly. They are surprised at our arrival and have not heard of "Machsom Watch."
08:30 Reihan-Barta'a Checkpoint
Businesspeople are going to Barta'a and leaving the terminal for the upper parking lot. We went down the sleeve to the entrance to the terminal where they are installing a new turnstile to separate people going in both directions. It has a gate that can be opened when needed.
15:10 - Shaked checkpoint
A taxi drives into the West Bank without any delays.
Adults with children return from the West Bank into the SeamLine zon. Passage is swift. That same taxi returns from the West Back quick.
n addition to the workers returning from into the West Bank, there are may people going to a funeral in Zbeida.
Workers report that the morning passage at the Itrach checkpoint was slow and took about an hour and a half. Other workers, who went to work in Barta'a through the Rihan checkpoint report that there is a new arrangement at the post when at 06:00 'the peek of the morning passage,' there is a change of shifts causing even greater delay.
At the entrance to the terminal - innovation !! The turnstyles were replaced by new ones and at least today it seems that there is a separation between entrance of workers into the terminal and exit of those returning from Jenin - which prevents and unbearable pressure on the carousel.
0730 -0800 Tura-Shaked checkpoint
It is extremely hot even at this early hour.
No one waits by the carousel at the entrance from the West Bank; whoever arrives walks straight inside the inspection building. A number of women wait in front of the inspecting booth on thier way to the West Bank.
Passage continues to both direction.
0810 - 0845 Barta'a checkpoint
When we arrived cab drivers told us that there is a serious delay at the checkpoint, and there are many people waiting inside for rather a long time. Going down the sleeve we meet large groups of people as described by the drivers.
At this time the delay ends. No one waits by the carousel, whoever arrives in the direction of the West Bank,gets inside immediately.
Many people get out of the building.
Two posts are open. We weren't able to get a clear answer as to how long they waited inside, but those who come out at this time report that now passage is swift and takes only a few minutes.
The inspection of vehicles and of passengers going to the West Bank is now quick and there are no vehicles from the West bank that wait for inspection.
Eight soldiers are aiming their weapons at the yellow gate on the side of the seamline zone.
Standing there are three high school students. One of the girls is having an attack of asthma and anxiety. She keeps falling and getting up over and over again. I appeal to the soldiers. One of them refuses to talk to me. The second one does agree but his friend tells him not to talk to us. One of the Palestinians says that he tried to explain the girls' condition to the soldiers and to translate for them the medical permit that she has in her hand. The document says that she suffers from breathing difficulties, and has recently been released from the hospital in Nablus. It says that she is not allowed to spend time in a closed air-conditioned place. The girl asked not to have to enter the inspection pavilion but the soldiers did not agree to her request. It is important to mention that until recently students of schools were not required to enter the pavilion. At any rate, her friends accompanied her. All of this was going on when they were on their way to school. I phoned the DCO and the woman soldier who answered said that they know what is happening and are taking care of the matter. I said that we will report to people outside the country. Within a quarter of an hour they let the student go through.
We met the driver, Y., who is 'prevented [from passage] for reasons of security', but recently he 'went through' the CP all right. He also has henhouses: one in Tura on the West Bank and the second in Umm Reihan in the seamline zone. That is where he lives. He manages both of them. According to him, the DCO notified him that during the next month, there will be difficulties for him again at the CP. A strange story. The delay at the CP will harm his livelihood as a driver as well as his income from the henhouses on both sides of the fence.
09:10 Reihan-Barta'a CP
A resident of El Judeida on the West Bank who owns a store in East Barta'a arrived with his two workers, residents of Snur on the West Bank. Today, they were not allowed to go through to the seamline zone even though they were allowed through before, both during Succoth and on the days of closure. A taxi driver has a small Palestinian flag on the windshield at the front of the car. He told us that he was detained in the internal CP and the soldier told him to take off the flag. The driver told the soldier that he doesn't tell the soldier to do away with the Israeli flag. After that, he says, they detained him for two and a half hours.
10:15 We left the CP and on our way to Barta'a we met a man who told us about the troubles that beset Palestinians. The man has been married for more than twenty years to a woman from Messer, who has an Israeli ID. The man has a Palestinian ID and a permit saying that he is in a naturalization procedure and that he should not be banished from Israel. The man and his wife and their children live in the Israeli village of West Barta'a. His wife's sister, who is also an Israeli from Messer, and her children, live together with them. The sister is married to a Palestinian from Yaabed (West Bank) who for five years has not been able to get a permit to enter Israel. The children are listed on her ID and they have Israeli ID numbers. They are above the age of sixteen and asked to receive Israeli ID cards at the Ministry of the Interior in Hadera. The Ministry of the Interior refused to give them ID cards, even though they have Israeli numbers, get a children's allowance from the government, and have medical insurance, and so on. They do not have a Palestinian ID card either. Without an ID card they have no possibility of visiting their father, who, as noted, cannot visit them either.