Translating: Ruth Fleishman
Third Friday of the Ramadan
"We work only according toorders. Nothing can be done!" said an officer.
There really was nothing that could be done.
No, to the disabled woman who entered from the direction of the area designated for women and tottered towards the other side of the building- which was designated for men. There, behind the fences, between the huddles of men who had yet to turn forty, stood her son. The woman went from a soldier, to a BP man and then to an officer, she begged that her son be permitted to join her, she said that without him she would be lost…, "Does he have a permit?" They asked, "No, he doesn't, but…", "it's impossible!" was the verdict.
After all they work only according to orders.
No, also to the young man who led his two festively dressed daughters. He managed to break through the first line of soldiers and was caught at the next inspection post- in consistence with the fishing net method. He tried his luck and stood at the humanitarian line which is designated for elder men (over forty) and was sent back, and he tried at the checkpoint where the special prayer permits held by young men are inspected but his request was once again denied, and he went over to the women's passage and was thrown out in shame, and he walked back and forth at the so called sterile zone. "My girls wanted to go to Jerusalem", he told me, "and their mother had already passed earlier, she arrived at the ancient city, I called her and she came back to take the girls". The man whose home is in Ar-Ram, wanted to pray, but knew that if he requested a permit he wouldn't receive it, because a year ago he was caught working illegally in Israel, and after spending a month in prison he is now on probation and registered at the GSS as "prevented passage".
Once again- in accordance with the orders.
And no to many others, young men or teenagers that didn't qualify according to the standards of the cold hearted policy makers. Women passed quickly and had their belongings inspected, men, however, were defined dangerous between the ages of 12 to 40 and not a month less. And documents were inspected thoroughly, and the children had to have their original Kushan (birth certificate) and one of their parents. Those accompanying their uncle or a friend were sent away.
Once again- everything is in accordance with the orders.
And regulations were changed according to the orders at noon: the metal partitions were dragged away and a line of soldiers was placed instead, separating the crowd from the path leading to the checkpoint. And then a thin and red headed man stood on one of the concrete blocks, he was the prayer leader. He held a sermon before the hundreds that weren't permitted to pass and once he finished prayer-matts were placed on the ground and the people stood in line behind the sermonizer and held a prayer with great intention, they raised their hands pleading to their god and knelt on the filthy ground between the barbed wires and the men in uniform.
Among the thousands of men and women who flowed to the checkpoint like streams of human beings, one could see the portrait of those who had been murdered hanging from the inside walls, one of them was Ali Khalifa whom I had met, I had taken his photo and wrote about him:
There was a pleasurable moment in that filth when an old women support by a cane got out from among the group of men and proceeded determinately to walk towards the soldiers, this is what they call "a checkpoint break-in". She did not adhere to regulations, norm or orders, and didn't present her ID nor did she arrive from the zone designated for her sex. Despite her slow pace it seemed as though she was dashing forward, vigorously and enthusiastically, and she passed right by them while looking towards her destination.
And they, who couldn't stop her and her spirit, looked away, pretending not to see.
Translator: Charles K.
The cut in the defense budget is already felt here – very few soldiers around.
06:20 Azzun Atma: The checkpoint opened late this morning despite Ramadan. The soldiers say the delay was only ten minutes. A congested line of more than 70 laborers at the checkpoint. Only the computerized inspection stations are operating. The MP’s don’t open a manual inspection station because they say there aren’t enough soldiers. The soldiers ask us to speak to them “upstairs” so they’ll be allocated more manpower to open additional inspection stations. Is that how they see our role – to improve the checkpoints?
The laborers report waiting more than an hour.
We saw no laborers coming from the direction of the agricultural gate.
06:30 Shomron crossing: No police at the exit from Israel. An additional lane has been paved going east.
On the way we passed a transporter taking a large prefabricated structure to the settlements.
06:50 Za’tara/Tapuach: No soldiers at the stations. Light traffic on the road.
Yitzhar/Burin checkpoint: No military activity
07:00 Awarta: The yellow bar is still locked, blocking passage.
07:20 Beit Furik: No soldiers; traffic flows. We didn’t see a soldier in the tower.
07:25 Huwwara: We didn’t see soldiers in the area of the checkpoint.
A soldier at the road up to Beracha settlement. No soldier at the hitchhiking location on the other side of the road.
Burin/Yitzhar:No military activity
The town of Huwwarastill slumbers on the verge of an additional day of oppressive heat and a lengthy fast. All the shops are closed.
07:35 Za’tara/Tapuach: No soldiers in position; traffic is unobstructed. Large signs on the fence: “Mitzpeh Keramim is accepting families” calling for more settlers.
Many buses at the Shomron crossing.
6.15 Azzun Atma. On the way to Elkana settlement we saw a lorries' convoy delivering new prefabricated houses.
At the checkpoint is a crowded group of over 50 workers. There are three checking posts – 2 with computers and one by hand and this does not solve the length of the queue. The workers say that they wait over an hour. The latest “improvement”: those who have parcels have to put them in the corner next to the gate and after they show their documents they go back through the car gate for the parcels and go back toward the exit with their parcels to be checked.
6.35The agricultural gate is open and a long line of workers walk towards the main road.
7.30 The Shomron crossing.No police at the exit from Israel. The passage to Israel is very crowded.
7.50 Za’tara/Tapuach CP. Border police at the checking posts. The road is empty of cars.
Yitzhar/Burin CP. No army activity.
Awarta. The yellow bar is locked and bars the passage.
Beit Furik.No soldiers and the traffic flows. We did not see a soldier in the tower.
8.30 Huwwara CP. We saw no soldiers in the area of the checkpoint.
Going up towards Bracha settlement there is a soldier. Another one at the hitching post across the road.
Burin/Yizthar. No army activity.
Za’tara/Tapuach CP. Border police at the post but they do not interfere with the traffic.
Shomron crossing.The checking is superficial as usual.
When we arrived at 6:05, the lines were very long but when the shift came on duty fifteen minutes later, the lines all began to move rapidly. One has to ask the question as to why these lanes cannot be monitored and opened sooner rather than waiting for the new shift.
A group of MP cadets came to tour the facility and saw the rather large number of Palestinians waiting to pass through the check point, a dramatic sight for them to encounter.
When we questioned why a very ill man had to wait to go through the humanitarian gate we were rudely informed that there are rules and he must wait until they are ready and prepared to allow him and the group to pass through. Eventually, the whole group was ushered through.
One man suggested that the lines at this checkpoint seem to be getting longer with more and more people passing through.
Given this situation, it seems only reasonable to demand more lanes for both foot and vehicular traffic. In addition, there is only one line for students which exacerbates an already tough situation.
In our opinion, the facilities at Qalandia are simply insufficient to meet the needs of a growing population, causing unnecessary resentment and anger.
On Tuesday, 1.5.2012 I read in the paper Elitichad that a house at Izbet Tabib had been destroyed and we decided to go and see what was happening. We spoke with M. T. He said that the foundation of the house which had been standing for a year had been destroyed. 70 soldiers had accompanied this action. The owner had tried to get a permit for the house and had been unsuccessful. It is important to note that the foundations of the building which were destroyed is located within the village and far from the fence.
The checkpoint of Huwwara was empty.
Za’tara/Tapuach was maned by many soldiers.
Azzun Atma , 14.45. Even though there were many soldiers the checking was very slow and about 100 workers and other people crowded together pushing one another. And for desert we received a compliment. A settler who passed by us on his motorbike shouted to us…..Oh prostitutes, what are you doing here….and went off.
15:30 – Reihan checkpoint.
We brought Ali back from Rambam hospital.
Many people go up the terminal into the Seam Line zone. Women carry food. They are on their way to a funeral in Barta'a.
Passage inside the terminal is slow.There are some problems with some of the people that causes delays and detainees.
Only one window is open and during all this time people who get back from work on rout into West Bank villages, are delayed inside.
About 50 people crowd by the turnstile in the afternoon heat.
15:55 Another widow opens and workers begin entering.
16:10 All those going to the funeral had already gone through and the second window closes.
At this time workers go through in a good pace, but whenever someone crosses to the other direction passage of workers into the West Bank, stops for a few minutes.
16:30 Once again the second window opens and those entering now get out immediately.
Translating: Ruth Fleishman
Photos from al-Jib CP:
Women back from work
Muhammad, who was arrested on the previous day (Saturday, 31.3.12) by a BP force, spoke of what followed the events of the Land day. His hands were handcuffed, his eyes were blindfolded and he was placed inside a Jeep that took him to Atarot base. "Boom, boom, boom- blows to the head…" he demonstrated with his fists and said that they accused him of throwing stones at Jews and that they warned him to never come back to work near the checkpoint: "Go to work in Ramallah, don't let us see you again near the checkpoint- they said to me. And my mother cried and waited for me here until nightfall. I don't throw stones. I have a baby and I need money to feed it".
And Hammed who sat by him showed the fresh injuries he sustained on his arm - beatings he received from soldiers, and then he pulled his trousers up and bared a thigh scared from bullet shots. "He has more like these on his back", said Muhammad.
El Jib checkpoint:
Being used to the fact that checkpoints prevent and restrict the passage from Palestine into Israel, while the entrance to Palestine is permitted with no inspections or delays, we were surprised to find out that at El-Jib checkpoint the entrance to Palestine also entails complications.
Tens of people stood cramped between two turnstiles in front of a soldier, whose body peeked out of the door of the post as he inspected each and every permit. A selection was made between the workers employed in settlements- who were allowed to return home, and others, such as the father of an ill child who was hospitalized at Augusta Victoria hospital, he sat all day long by his child's bed: "Go to Qalandiya", said the soldier to him.
"This checkpoint is only for settlements", the person on duty at the humanitarian line said explicitly.
As though for the sake of humiliation, the soldier's post is elevated higher than the body of the Palestinians entering the inspection zone, so they must stretch their bodies and raise the hand holding the permit over their heads. Those coming out of the checkpoint knock on the metal cover set on the slot for the IDs, and only once the soldier's attention is directed to them, a thing that might take several minutes since the soldier is engaged in a phone call or for any other reason, the door opens and the man or women enter a room where they go through a meticulous inspection.
Photos from al-Jib CP:
Women back from work
Translation: Bracha B.A. 06:00 – Reihan Checkpoint The upper parking lot is filled with cars but there are only few people. I was told that the checkpoint opened at 05:00 but that things were not running smoothly – the machine was working but the people were not. Women coming towards me in the sleeve report that the terminal is crowded and people are delayed. They demand that I "Tell them." I wish I could. At 06:15 there is a big crowd of people waiting in front of the entrance to the terminal like I have never seen before. There is a lot of noise and commotion, but no one is coming out. Soon people begin to come out, but not in an orderly manner – a group comes out and then there is a pause, then another group and a pause. 06:30 – a woman is waiting for her friends who have not come out yet. Eventually they come out. Another group has gone in but only two of them come out. At 06:40 all the women workers have usually come out by now, but today they are still coming out. The men come out at a run since they are already very late for work. At 06:45 people stop coming out again and there is a commotion inside the terminal grows louder. People who usually come out at 06:30 only got out at 07:05 today. There are still people waiting at the entrance to the terminal to go inside.
Translation: Bracha B.A.
06:00 – Reihan Checkpoint
The upper parking lot is filled with cars but there are only few people. I was told that the checkpoint opened at 05:00 but that things were not running smoothly – the machine was working but the people were not. Women coming towards me in the sleeve report that the terminal is crowded and people are delayed. They demand that I "Tell them." I wish I could.
At 06:15 there is a big crowd of people waiting in front of the entrance to the terminal like I have never seen before. There is a lot of noise and commotion, but no one is coming out. Soon people begin to come out, but not in an orderly manner – a group comes out and then there is a pause, then another group and a pause.
06:30 – a woman is waiting for her friends who have not come out yet. Eventually they come out. Another group has gone in but only two of them come out. At 06:40 all the women workers have usually come out by now, but today they are still coming out. The men come out at a run since they are already very late for work.
At 06:45 people stop coming out again and there is a commotion inside the terminal grows louder. People who usually come out at 06:30 only got out at 07:05 today. There are still people waiting at the entrance to the terminal to go inside.
0730 -0800 Tura-Shaked checkpoint
There is an ongoing traffic on both sides but rather scars; vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.
Passage is quite fast.
One person requests our help; He had changed his car and now is not allowed to cross at the Shaked checkpoint (He lives in the near by Daher-el-Malec) only at the Reihan-Barta'a checkpoint. and another problem: His son is almost 16 years of age and has already received an I.D card and therefore is no longer register in his fathers' I.D. The son does not receive a passage permit with the claim that he doesn't live in the same village as his father.
We'll try looking into that tomorrow over the phone.
Other than that there are the usual complaints of the complicated life under Israeli occupation.
0810-0840 Barta'a-Reihan checkpoint
We went down the sleeve to the entrance of the terminal. People whom we met said that all is well. Among them a father and his daughter on their way to Um-el-Fachem for Physical therapy treatments,Yuval Rot would pick them up and drive them over.
People who came out of the terminal at this time are angry saying that there are many people inside and that they had to wait between one hour to an hour and a half.
We tried calling Sharon, the checkpoint commander but to no avail. In the mean time more and more people get out but it seems that there is still a long delay inside the terminal.
We left feeling helpless
6:05 - Reihan checkpoint
The upper car park is stuffed with vehicles which is sign that there are still quite few people inside the terminal.
We go down the sleeve and meet women workers only. One of them tells us that most of the people are held by the X-ray machine that operates slowly.
Average time of stay inside the terminal is about 30-40 minutes.
6:15 There is noise inside the terminal after which pace of those coming out grows a bit faster.
Once again we are approached by people complaining that only one elderly person from each family can obtain an agriculture permit and non of the younger family members who can help in the routinely chores of farming except for the two months of olive picking.
6:30- Heavy traffic to both directions, occasionally it seems as if some sort of blockage is lifted inside the terminal, but according to other people there is crowding of about 40 people by the machine.
7:05 - Shaked checkpoint
Only now soldiers open the gates and with in five more minutes people begin entering the inspection cabin.
A five years old child arrive with his father from the side of the West Bank, the kid crosses over alone into the Seam Line zone, near us, on the other side of the gate, his uncle picks him up to take him to the grandmother, to babysit for him at Daher-el-Malec.
Pedestrians as well as vehicles cross over on both sides.
7:25- School children begin arriving. Two female soldiers and a soldier with a pointed rifle, inspect their school bags and let them through quickly. College students who go to Jenin are required to go through the inspection cabin.