Translation: Yael Bassis-Student
7:15A border police truck stops two bicycle riders on the road going up to Kazir; the riders turn around and continue cycle slowly up the hill. The truck drives slowly behind them, and we follow them. Due to the slow drive we gave up our wish to see where the Border Police takes them and sped up.
07:30 Tura-Shaked checkpoint
When we arrived, 8 people sat in the waiting shed. Vehicles arrived and picked them up to work. Most of those crossing over come from the direction of Tura in the West Bank into the Seam Line zone. One person approached us with a well-known problem; He works as a painter and does some repair work in a school at Um-el-Rihan, as well as in Shaked and Hinanit. He showed us a special permit for that, which is about to expire within a month. Today he was told that he couldn't cross "Because you haven't gotten back last night, but since today is a holiday, I'll let you through" . He says that from time to time he is told, out of the blue, that he can't go through and is sent to the DCO to renew his papers, despite the fact that his papers are valid! Usually it happens when there is no registration on his return from the Seam Line zone to Tura. He thinks that it comes as punishment for the fact that they are not listed properly. It has to do with the soldiers' handwritten reports, when the computer is down. Therefore he and others are listed not returning on the same day as when they went out. As stated above, this results in their permits being taken away for a period of one month or more.
The trip to the DCO is a full day's event, at time the soldier is not there, at other times he just went out and is about to return, :"wait, wait, wait" and at the end of the day they are told: "Go home and come back tomorrow".
08:10– We left as the herd of goats came closer to the gate from the side of Tura.
08:20 Barta'a-Rihan checkpoint
Daylight saving time is in effect at the Occupied Territories , same as in Israel. Passage time today is relatively short - 10 minutes.
There aren't too many people, corridors seem empty and the usual sounds are not heard.
Those coming out of the terminal holding, their belts, appear relaxed and no one complains of crowding.
We shouldn't ne mislead - the occupation in its ugliness and brutality is still here.
08:45 We left.
Translating Dvora K.
All kind of work is being done around the CP. This morning a group of officers were there. The computer was down and it was inconvenient to inspect those going through. People who have always gone through suddenly became 'excluded by order of the General Security Service'. There was an atmosphere of great tension. One man went through accompanied by three officers and a police commander. They decided that he was not really going to do agricultural work, as his permit specified, but was going to work in construction, as the tools he was carriying indicated. The man said that he was going to his olive grove and that the tools were always with him, in his bag. The argument went on in the waiting shed on the side of the seamline zone. We heard one of the officers say that one always 'has to look at their hands to see if they really do any work.'
An older woman arrived, in tears . She has a permit to go through to the seamline zone to visit two of her married children who live in Umm Reihan, a Palestinian village in the seamline zone. She wanted to bring her children and their family some food that she has cooked the night before. The soldiers at the CP decided that this was a 'commercial quantity' and did not allow her to transport the pots of food. The woman went home with the pots and came back to the CP crying and empty-handed. In the meantime Wahal from the DCO arrived. We told him about the woman and he told her to go to her home on the West Bank, to return with the food and he would let her to go through. The woman was exhausted and did not have the strength to return home again in order to come back to the CP for the third time. Moreover, she was not certain that Wahal would indeed wait there for her.
One of the soldiers told us that we know nothing about all the smuggling that goes on in the CPs, and that is why they have to be very cautious.
10:00 Reihan-Barta'a CP
We stayed there for about an hour and there was no extraordinary event. We returned via East Barta'a. A man told us that his wife is pregnant and that she travels to the university in Jenin every day. He is worried because of the x-ray inspections that she has to undergo twice a day. Another man, older and a father of several children, told us that he is not allowed to enter Israel. He feels choked. According to him none in his immediate family or among his relatives was ever involved in any kind of hostile activity, but 'they' are not willing to tell him why he is forbidden access.
Translator: Charles K.
A holiday for the Jews – “khaga” (mourning) for the Palestinians.
The streets of Hebron were filled with tens of thousands of Jews during the intermediate days of Passover, and not a single Palestinian could be seen!
The entrance to Hebron via Kiryat Arba has been closed. True, they asked me whether I’m handicapped, so perhaps the combination of Jewish and handicapped would open the “Garden of Eden” for me, but that solution didn’t appeal to me. So we drove to the parking area in the southern part of the city and rode the (free) bus provided by the Gush Etzion regional council to the Cave of the Patriarchs. On the way we saw many stands offering everything from huge yarmulkes to tefillim, amidst them one accepting donations to “Beit HaMachpela,” which “is ours, purchased legally and legitimately.” Signs everywhere reminding that “Hebron, City of the Patriarchs, Ours For All Eternity.”
A young boy with long earlocks sat on the bus in front of us, screaming excitedly: “Dad, look, here’s an Arab – why don’t they kill him?” Many stickers reading “Kahane was right” had been pasted on our friend’s souvenir shop. The shop was locked, of course, the windows of the residence on the upper floor shuttered.
We walked to Tel Rumeida. Dozens of soldiers and police with drawn weapons filled Shuhadah Street and the other alleys. The soldier at the intersection leading to the settlers’ houses tried valiantly to explain to our guest how dangerous and important his job is. In basic English he recommended “don’t listen to this woman” (me). We know these old women, he said, all they want is to interfere and snitch on us. We stood looking at H1; the settlers appeared immediately and in a few minutes the atmosphere grew so heated that we hurried away.
On our way back we met a Palestinian family, father, mother and a small boy, who wanted to walk along Shuhadah Street and go through the checkpoint at the detour around the Cave of the Patriarchs. The soldiers refused, nor did our intervention help. “After Passover – now Hebron belongs to the Jews.”
Huge crowds at the Cave of the Patriarchs. A pregnant settler asked not to pass through the scanner; they agreed, of course, without her having to prove anything or get someone to intercede on her behalf. The soldier explained to his colleague that the scanner is dangerous for the fetus – from which we learn that Palestinians may already be endangered while still in the womb, but not settlers, God forbid!
The Cordova school bell rang but we saw no pupils.
Only fools choose to visit Hebron during the intermediate days of Passover. It’s always hard – but today was particularly difficult.
We drove south to Umm el-Hir and Tawwani – everything’s quiet. Maybe the settlers are too busy in Hebron?! Construction at Tawwani proceeds with impressive speed
am 6:50 Bethlehem - Checkpoint 300
Tisha Be-Av - Rachel's Crossing. 6:50 am
the cars outside gave no indication of what was going on inside: only one post is open and operating.
People pass in a very thin stream. It turns out that only one metal detector is working, the rest are idle or in disrepair, with no one to fix them. After a call to a high-ranking police personage, 2 posts were manned. The soldier previously on duty left. Here and there lines formed, and someone told us that another machine was operating, but very slowly. Of course such a situation exacerbates the level of anger, and is accompanied by humiliation, as well as the occasional loss of a day's wages.
With respect to the partly idle machines: we reported last week. With respect to the unmanned positions, we suspect that tisha be-av has something to do with reduced man power.
Not a few of those inside direct their anger at us, and "advise" us to move to the other side and the middle room to see what is going on there. And we explain that we are prohibited from entering the other side, and are ashamed of our helplessness to change the situation.
In the rebuilding of the Temple we shall be comforted........
Translation: Suzanne O.
There are about 20 people outside; the pace of the exits is slow.
The exit turnstile is locked, when we asked about it we were told that it would open up again immediately, after an additional 10 minutes shouts were heard from inside, we again called up via the intercom and were not answered.
We went to observe the entrance to the building on the eastern side. There was almost no queue, people moving along easily.
We stood there for almost 10 minutes, during which time some 80 people entered.
A representative of the management appeared and requested, politely, that we leave the area – back to the entrance – when we questioned the hold up he replied that there had been a security problem, when we said that the exit was barred to those who had already been inspected, he took as a petty attack on this particular building.
We would indeed have preferred that the whole occupation would end so that we would no longer have to be petty!
The exit pace speeds up; the turnstile works continuously.
Hundreds are organised into rows for the silent morning prayers.
As soon as the prayers end the whole area fills up, crowded, people drinking coffee, eating, waiting for transport.
By the side of the exit the turnstile turns unceasingly, it is difficult to see how many positions are open because the entrance is full of people. The pace of the exit is much faster than at Ayal (it is also later).
At the eastern entrance to the building there is no queue. Whoever arrives goes in.
We spoke to quite a few people – they say that the situation in the rooms has improved greatly over the last two weeks, as we understood from the reports of Rachel A. This is a result of the strike and we wanted to understand the dynamics that led to the strike.
From what we learned: on a Sunday, at the end of December, a few people got together and locked the entrance to the crossing from their side and declared that no one could cross that day – in protest at the hold ups in the rooms. All the labourers obeyed. Some returned to their homes, some contacted their friends and told them not to come at all. Some of them sat there until 10:00 a.m.
The management tried to persuade them to cross and then to talk but they were unwilling. On that day, according to them, not one person crossed to work at this crossing.
It took some time for the improvement but for the last two weeks things have changed considerably.
Others complained about the x-ray they are forced to undergo daily. Someone said that he feels very ill after each inspection and doubts that they question/complain about/call for help about the damage it causes.
We said that it is being checked out by the 'doctors for human rights' organisation.
Does anyone know if any results are known?
At 6.40 there are still a lot of vehicles on the Israeli side, awaiting the last workers going through the check. There is still a long queue of unchecked workers on the Palestinian side but the process seems smooth and quick.
Five buses of prisoners' families await their checking.
All the side blocks are open, lots of cars drive along the road and many children walk towards their schools.
The city looks quiet and peaceful. Two CPT volunteers at the Pharmacy C.P are busy counting the last pupils going through. They report of less manual checking lately.
Tel Rumaida: The soldiers detain people on their way down the road but they seem to only question them and then, let go.
Route 60 North
Shayuokh–Sair checkpoint: empty.
Two soldiers observe the city from the closed Humanitarian CP. The way towards I'dna is almost empty. We stop to buy some olive oil in Idna and find that the pressing process is over.
Tarqumiya: Many tracks still await their checking, the workers have already walked through..
6:05 - 8:00
6:05 - A'anin checkpoint
Most of the people have already gone through. According to the DCO representative on site, about 75 people have crossed over.
He also thinks that most of those requesting passage permits, have received it, including those whose trees border the fence.
At 6:20 Another group of people arrives with two tractors. One of the people in that last group complains that in case they complete their work earlier, or if someone gets hurt, or gets sick they are unable to return home through another checkpoint, but rather have to wait until 15:30 for the opening of the A'aneen gate,( because only there it'll be registered that they have returned to the West Bank - other wise they'd be considered illegal aliens).
6:35 - Rihan checkpoint
A few workers and many cabs wait at the upper car park area.
Only 2 workers from the carpets plant had crossed over and they tell us thatpassage is extremely slow and that the terminal is full of people. Passage time is 40 minutes. We go down the sleeve and find out that only a few come out of the terminal.
At 6:45 another window opens inside the terminal which expedites the pace, all come out running but managed to complain about the delay.
At 7:10 we are reported that the terminal is still full of people.
Passage of vehicles from the SeamLine zone to the West Bank is handled swiftly.
inside the vehicles inspection post 8 pickup trucks with goods are under inspection. 3 loaded trucks wait on the road while 4 other pickup trucks wait at the lower car park area.
7:20 - Shaked checkpoint
Most of the workers have already gone through and there is a slow traffic of pedestrians to both directions. From the SeamLine zone to the West bank there are mostly school children. Pupils who had crossed the gate wait on the other side for transportation to school.
Y. the driver tells us that the soldiers at the checkpoint are new and therefore passage is slow.
A teacher who wait to cross over, tells us about his Asthmatic sister (whom we've reported about in past reports) despite the note that releases her from going inside the cabin for inspection, soldiers do not free her from the inspection.
Vehicles cross over simultaneously to both directions. A resident of Tura complains of sewage from the military base floods his land and the near by lands. He had turn to the DCO but as of now, nothing had been done regarding that.
Translator: Charles K.
06:40 – 09:00
06:40 Reihan checkpoint
We came early (20 minutes before people start to be sent through). One Transit is waiting. All the gates are closed. We walked down to the lower lot. We declared what was in the bags we carried. We received permission to cross the roadblock after it opens to military vehicles. 50-60 people stood next to the yellow gate. One woman (from the sewing factory) stood off to the side, waiting for her friend. Today we didn’t see the other women.
07:00 The gate opens, and with it a hail of commands: Saker el bab. Fut fut. Don’t touch the makina. Fut fut ya Mu’alem. [Close the gate...go through, go through…don’t touch the machine…go through, sir]. Bas hamsa [only five]. Sakr…and so on, over and over. Impolite, many explanation points and smiles on the faces of those still waiting.
In ten minutes the place was empty. People arriving on foot or in a vehicle entered immediately (hamsa hamsa – five at a time).
7:20 Those who were waiting this morning have already come through. Someone asks how Anna is, another praises the fact that they went through quickly, another: “That’s what we’ve got, and today it was good.”
Two windows are open inside the terminal. 07:40 The corridors are empty. It takes 5-6 minutes to get from the yellow gate at the lower parking lot until you leave the terminal for the seam zone.
A man from Tura (near the Shaked checkpoint) approaches us. He says (in a combination of Hebrew and Arabic) he’s been waiting six months for a crossing permit for a wedding (of one of his children). He received a permit to send wedding invitations. Why didn’t he cross at Shaked? They didn’t let him. Only through Reihan (a huge detour).
7:45 We move toward the exit. Passengers of a large minibus from Barta’a to Jenin signal to us. An old blind man (or almost blind) isn’t able to get off and insert his card, and the requirement isn’t being waived. By the time we understood what was going on, it had been taken care of. Apparently one of the passengers (aged 20) has to go to Jenin for medical treatment, and he has a permit to cross that has expired (two weeks ago?). Everyone waits. A phone call to ‘Adel, the DCO head. The driver explains to him in Arabic. ‘Adel promises to take care of it. Meanwhile, the line behind the minibus lengthens.
A female security guard wearing a company uniform (blue and white) arrives. She doesn’t know that ‘Adel is involved, and impatiently and loudly explains to the waiting passengers the theory behind the checkpoints and the crossing procedures. Nor does she have time to listen to us tell her that ‘Adel is taking care of the crossing permit. It’s important for her to bring the incident to a close and release the waiting vehicles (which is the right thing to do, even from our critical perspective), but she won’t allow the man and his mother to wait nearby for the permit from ‘Adel, the DCO, after which they’ll get another ride to Jenin, or it doesn’t occur to her to do so. We saw the man and his mother taking a taxi back to Barta’a.
8:25 We left (13 Transits waiting for passengers)
8:30 While we were on our way to the Shaked checkpoint ‘Adel called and asked to talk to that man. He doesn’t understand why they returned to Barta’a. We told him everything that we wrote above and he promised to find out what happened with the security personnel at the checkpoint.
8:35 Shaked – Tura checkpoint
Very many people waiting (photo on left). Lots of noise and disorder (about 30 adults and 15 children). They told us that the gate closed after someone who crossed from Tura was beaten by the soldiers. We saw two military vehicles and many soldiers.
Flags: Israel, Armored Corps, Military Police
A white Transit stands opposite the soldier’s post toward Tura (why?). We call ‘Adel, the DCO head: I’ll take care of it! What – the gate’s closed (sounds surprised)? I know about it. A beating? I don’t know anything about a beating (again sounds surprised). We understood he was on his way to the checkpoint, and will be hear in half an hour or more.
8:40 They open the gate for a jeep carrying someone with a rank on his shoulder of a star inside a V who speaks Arabic. The gate closes. Babies cry. More and more people arrive. The mothers bring the crying babies closer to the gate; maybe it will make a difference. They start shaking the gate but then stop. We understand that they are on their way to Tura after a wedding in Dahar al Malk (On our way, we saw the location of the wedding).
8:50 A Red Crescent ambulance arrived from the direction of Tura.
8:53 A military ICU ambulance (No. 201 Judea and Samaria region) arrives from the seam zone.
9:05 They take out the man who was beaten. Limbs dangling he’s carried/dragged. A soldier gets a chair. Slowly they put him in the ambulance (second photo above). We see his legs going in (why didn’t they take out a stretcher?). 9:10 The Red Crescent leaves. We call ‘Adel. He’s on his way.
9:12 The ambulance doors close.
9:14 The ambulance turns around, as if it intends to go north.
9:15 They open one wing of the gate and the first enters. He yells to us that he waited two hours (even an hour or a quarter of an hour is a long time to wait). Two soldiers approach the waiting crowd, leave one wing of the gate open and return to the checkpoint area. The families begin going through. The Transit parked opposite the soldiers’ position toward Tura isn’t allowed to go through because of some problem with how the owner is registered. They tell the driver to move it away.
9:17 The ambulance still hasn’t moved. (Are they treating the man who was put inside?) People coming from Tura who go through the inspection building come out holding their belts.
9:20 “Yoel! Let more people through!”
“No! But not one by one.”
A Hummer arrives. The ambulance moves to let it pass.
9:30 The area empties of people. We meet M., the brother of the man who was beaten. He says that it happened at 8:00. He was told about it by another brother who went through together with the one who was beaten. Apparently he had an argument with the soldiers about where he was supposed to stand – in front of or behind the revolving gate. The beating began after the brother had already finished the inspection procedure and left the building. M. said his brother has some problem in his chest, so because of the beating he asked that he be taken to an Israeli hospital and signed a waiver for the Red Crescent.
“If my brother was rude, let them call the police – why beat him?”
9:40: ‘Adel arrived. His white jeep parked next to the soldiers’ position. He greeted them and continued his work.
9:45 We left.
10:05 We called M., the brother of the man who was beaten. ‘Adel, the DCO, convinced him that his brother’s condition doesn’t justify hospitalization in Israel, and that he should take him to Jenin. He called the Red Crescent and took his brother to be examined in Jenin.
Afternoon: Col. ‘Adel called us in the early afternoon. He apologized that he wasn’t able to meet us in the field, and reported on the conclusion of the incident at the Shaked – Tura checkpoint. He said the Palestinian who had been beaten was dissembling (put on an act), and his injury didn’t justify hospitalizing him in Israel. He was taken to a hospital in Jenin. But, according to Col. ‘Adel, the incident will be investigated in the way all such incidents are.
Continuation: Sunday 11.7.10
Telephone call to M. His brother is ok, undergoing medical tests. I understood he was no longer in the hospital. A friend of his, a lawyer from Umm el Fahm, will handle the matter (that’s why Yesh Din won’t be involved).
He has my phone number if he needs help.
I also received an email from the morning shif (Hanna H., Ruti T.): The man – a Bedouin who lives near Tel Menashe – who was beaten yesterday by one of the soldiers is returning home from the Jenin hospital. He tells us that yesterday, after he left the inspection room, he ran into a soldier who didn’t speak but motioned with his hands in a way that he didn’t understand. He thought he was being asked to raise his shirt and open his belt (the disgraceful belly dance), which is what he did. At the same time he turned around to his brother who speaks Hebrew. When he did his pants must have fallen down, which annoyed the soldier so much that he began beating him. He said that after the beating they brought him past the fence, on the West Bank side, where he collapsed. They then returned him to the inspection room and the soldiers treated him and infused a saline solution. The incident occurred at 8:10, and at 11:30 he was taken to the hospital in Jenin where he was diagnosed with bruises to his upper body. His neck still hurts and tomorrow he’ll return for a follow-up. The soldier who beat him wasn’t at the checkpoint today, but those who took care of the wounded man said “there wasn’t any beating; something happened to his heart and they treated him.”
07:40 - 08:50 Shaked-Tura checkpoint
12 people waited on the other side of the fence to cross over unto the Seam Line zone. All went through within 20 minutes.
The driver Y. who drives children told us that now, all of a sudden he is banned from entering Israel, ever since this new development he is detained for an hour at the entrance to the Seam Line zone.
09:00 - 10-15 - Rihan-Barta'a checkpoint
People entered the terminal from the Palestinian car park area, but were forced to wait inside the sleeve not allowed to enter the terminal. As it turns out earlier in the morning rhe identification biometric device was out of order and that caused a delay of an hour in the passage process.
All those working in Barta'a were forced to wait.
10:00 - the hour long traffic jem was lifted.
At the vehicles' inspection post all is as usual.
Something new:- The gate between the Palestinian car park area and the road was opened thus adding more parking space to the crowded parking lot.
Paraphrasing the canonic Beitar song: Two banks has the West Bank – this one’s ours and so is that one…
Flying down the highway from Jusalem towards the Dead Sea through Ma’ale Adumim colony, along the Separation Wall, asphalt smooth, Israeli cars winged, it’s a calm holiday morning, and we open our shift with a peek at the northern tip of the Dead Sea, then proceed along the Jordan Valley and after witnessing the checkpoints, blockages, long running dirt mounds that look like fresh mole highways, ditches and all we are reminded for the Nth time how unbearably easy and cruel the system is blocking the West Bank off from the outside world – on its western side by the body of the Israeli State proper to the sea line, and on its eastern side by the body of the by now for all practical purposes annexed Jordan Valley to the river line.
Beit Ha’arava Checkpoint 12:00
A blue (civilian) police officer and a single soldier operate a ‘mini-checkpoint’ that but for a few small concrete slabs and piece of shade would have seemed a flying checkpoint, with two red plastic ‘jerseys’. As we come they are checking a Palestinian car heading for the Dead Sea.
Less than a minute later they have already folded up their business and to our query since when they have been ‘on duty’, the police officer answers: “This is not to the point. I end my job when and how I see fit”.
We proceeded towards the Dead Sea beside dilapidated buildings dating from the time of the potash plant enterprises pre-1948, and the adjacent small army camp. One of the old buildings is fenced and shows a sign saying “Dangerous structure” and is covered with soldier graffiti (see photo).
Continuing in the direction of Jericho, facing the entrance way to Vered Yericho colony, the standard red plaque warns us of entering PA areas, but no checkpoint in sight.
We turned back (not intending to enter ‘forbidden’ territory) to get back on road 90,The spinal column of the Jordan Valley.
Shortly before Na’ama colony we stopped to take a photo of the mighty barrier put up where once the main access road to Jericho joined the main road, and naturally within two minutes flat a yellow-lights-flashing army jeep was on us to figure out what we were sniffing.
Tyassir Checkpoint 14:15The checkpoint rather empty, the soldiers begin their waving-us-away ritual but change their minds. A single cab arrives from the Nablus hills, its passengers disembark for the individual checks, and the ‘one by one!’ mantra resounds in the still air of this middle of nowhere. The turnstile creaks doubly loud and slow, grating on the mind to remind us that the army does not bother to oil its monster.
At 14:40 we proceed to the checkpoint Gochia which is supposed to be opened by the army for Palestinian passage as it is supposed to be opened every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday once in the morning, once in the afternoon. As we arrive at the appointed time – 3 p.m. – and stick around, no one comes to use this gate now, and the army does not send anyone visibly to open it. We waited for over a quarter of an hour and then left.
This gate embodies the whole evil story. Palestinian children who live in adjacent hamlets in what remains of the Palestinian enclosed Jordan Valley – scattered in the midst of blooming date tree groves, vineyards and some industry all maintaining the flourishing Jewish colonies in the most fruitful soil attainable – six year olds and up, are forced to leave their parents and live with relatives ‘inside’ the West Bank (across the hill-line) in order to be able to attend school at Tamun village, for example, which is so very close but beyond the checkpoints and blockages and ditches and fences, for the Valley is not really their any longer.
Hamra Checkpoint 15:25Everything is run at top… slowness. At present this checkpoint already has some of the markings of the old Huwwara version: X-ray truck, Military Police soldierette, shaded area for … the soldiers’ food water and rest, not for the Palestinians who in the summer are forced to waste in the sun. Passengers, having crossed and been inspected, have to wait over 20 minutes until their vehicle is finally checked as well and crosses to pick them up to continue their journey east.
A woman tells us that last time she came through here, a soldier instructed her to unbutton the over-gown she wears as part of her traditional garb. Inside the shack.
A male soldier. Alone. She did. What else could she do?
We left Hamra at 16:00.
Photos attached. Some of them show the fresh warning signs – “No entry, firing zone!” in Hebrew and Arabic, pasted to standard concrete slabs at the entry to every single footpath, dirt track, dirt road and any sort of access to human living quarters, tilled farm plots, shacks, tent encampments. Palestinian, naturally. We find this urgently in need of investigation, legal inquire!