Translation: Bracha B.A.
Shaked – Tura Checkpoint – 07:30-08:00
There is very little traffic today in both directions. A policewoman from the military police and a soldier from the engineering corps, who is currently manning the checkpoints, approach us and ask us to move back. We stand in our usual position that doesn't bother anyone and remain there.
Yaabed Dotan Checkpoint 08:15-08:45
Today we crossed in our car at the "red" area and drove to the Yaabed Dotan checkpoint, to show our guests what the reality here is like. The checkpoint is manned and cars are waiting in both directions for permission to cross. We had heard about roadblocks along this road which had been removed, but there are still coils of barbed wire in place.
Reihan – Barta'a Checkpoint 09:00-09:30
The checkpoint is crowded as usual, vehicle and pedestrian traffic in both directions. At this relatively late hour it appears that traffic is moving without delay, but several people coming out of the terminal inform us that it took a half hour for them to get through. We saw that there is now padding on the bars of the turnstile, to prevent people from getting hurt when they pass through.
Translation: |Bracha B.A.
15:00 – A'anin Checkpoint
The checkpoint opened on time and a few people cross without any problems.
15:20 – Shaked – Tura Checkpoint
All the sophisticated inspection equipment is not operating. In the sleeve (which is locked) people are not entering the inspection booth and all the metal barriers are open. The traffic lights are also not operating. People cross through on the road and are checked quickly in the soldiers' position.
16:10 – Reihan Barta'a Checkpoint, Seamline Zone Side
People are descending the sleeve and disappearing into the terminal. Padding has been added to the bars of the turnstile to prevent people from being injured when there is a crowd. There is presently no crowd. One person remarks, "What a checkpoint today, wonderful." An elderly man crosses through this "wonderful" checkpoint towards the seamline zone wearing a suit and holding his belt in his hand. Another person is disappointed with the drinking fountain that is not producing cold water today. He asks that we see to it that another drinking fountain is installed.
A detainee was waiting on the bench inside the terminal throughout the time we observed the checkpoint.
Two Palestinian workers are working at the end of the sleeve near the entrance to the terminal. Evidently they are building a path that will allow people to return to the West Bank without passing through the terminal, such as the one at Jalameh or Shaarei Efraim.
16:50 – We walk up the sleeve towards the parking lot. People coming down greet us on the way.
North, 29.4.13, afternoon
Leah R., Anna N.S.
Translator: Charles K.
15:15 A’anin agricultural gate (on the separation fence, for farmers cut off from their land by the fence)
The checkpoint opens at 15:00. Those waiting said that about 25 people had crossed by the time we arrived, all residents of A’anin returning home after working outside the village. A few tractors loaded with scrap also waited. Everyone was tired. It’s hot, and particularly hot at this hour.
The soldiers inspect every item in the bags people carry. The young men cross last; it’s not clear why. Gradually, everyone but M. goes through. His tractor is loaded with used mattresses, old blankets and some broken plastic chairs. The soldiers aren’t letting him bring the load across. M. asks, pleads, explains how much he needs the goods, tells them how poor he is, how many troubles: “I have seven children and no money,” he says and displays his ID card. It doesn’t help. The soldiers stick to the rules. Correction: there are rules, regulations, laws passed by the Knesset, but there’s also common sense and judgment. But the soldiers insist: only agricultural produce is allowed through an agricultural checkpoint. M. points to his ten year old son sitting next to him on the tractor, describes a school trip to Ramallah which he couldn’t join because M. couldn’t pay the fee. The soldiers don’t care. He removes the blue independence day cap his son is wearing and shows it to the soldiers. “Do you know what this is, huh?” he asks. “I love peace, I love Jews…” M. continues to beg; his humiliation and this ridiculous argument over a pile of junk are heartrending. What must M. think of us? What’s going through his head?
I want to photograph the tractor and controversial pile of junk but M. refuses, and I back down. When the soldiers move to close the checkpoint he unloads the broken plastic chairs next to the fence and goes through. He’s followed at the last minute by three more Palestinians after they were interrogated.
I’ll forgo quoting the crude pearls of racism and ignorance we heard from the soldiers who aren’t aware of the fact that it’s occupied territory. Here’s what one soldier said, more or less: We’re strong. We have weapons, so it’s ours.
A Palestinian sanitation worker collected the garbage around the checkpoint.
16:00 Tura-Shaked checkpoint (a “fabric of life” checkpoint between Palestinian villages in Area C)
Only a few people and one vehicle crossed to the West Bank during the quarter-hour we were there. Only two people crossed to the seam zone.
16:20 Barta’a-Reihan checkpoint (the largest checkpoint in the area, with a large terminal; it’s been privatized)
More than 200 people crowd next to the fenced corridor to the upper terminal entrance. The checkpoint is closed! It’s training time! The DCO didn’t know when the checkpoint would open. People say they’ve been waiting about an hour. Soldiers in a military vehicle who were also waiting said the exercise will be over within 15 minutes. People are tired after a day of work, they crowd at the checkpoint, it’s hot, unpleasant, they’re even too tired to complain.
The checkpoint opens ten minutes later and the mass of people returning flowed through the fenced corridor to the terminal and out to the Palestinian parking lot. The waiting vehicles also crossed. The taxi drivers in the Palestinian parking lot waited together; one prayed. People described their hardships to us; they have many, in particular the fact that no one helps them, not the Palestinian authority, not the occupiers, nor us either.
17:00 We left.
Rochela H., Noa L., (Reporting)
Translation: Bracha B.A.
Shaked – Tura Checkpoint, 07:20-07:50
The checkpoint is crowded and there is a lot of traffic, moving quickly in both directions. There are lots of vehicles passing through, which is unusual for Saturday. The herd of goats also passes through without any problem. One man tells us that he has a permit which is valid for the next two months, and that he crosses almost every day to tend his fields, without any problem. On the other hand, when he does not appear for a day or two and then comes back, he is refused entry and is sent to the Liaison and Coordination Administration. A short time ago he and his family received a permit to spend three nights in the seamline zone to attend a wedding. He chose to return home each night and not stay, and he was consequently detained at the checkpoint again. It appears that no matter what happens, there will always be a way to harass people for no reason, simply because we can.
Yaabed – Dotan – 08:10-09:00
We drove to the Yaabed Checkpoint today to deliver used clothing and baby items to Amjad (Mari's father) who just had a baby girl. This checkpoint is only manned occasionally on Saturdays and there were soldiers present there today. The Netzach Yehuda religious Nahal brigade is serving there. The crossing was closed and everyone at the checkpoint:
The Palestinian drivers (and we too) received a lesson in military exercises. Soldiers ran around us with weapons drawn, while lines of cars formed on both sides of the checkpoint. We asked why it was necessary to do training exercises now when the checkpoint is filled with traffic. We were told that there have been some shooting incidents here and that the soldiers had to be prepared for any possible incident. After about ten minutes the exercise ended and traffic resumed. We delivered the packages to Amjad and returned to Reihan.
Reihan – Barta'a Checkpoint – 09:10-09:20
We descended the sleeve to the terminal and found that everyone had already crossed through and the terminal was now empty. All the parking lots, including the auxiliary ones on the road to Zibda, are all completely full.
Translator: Charles K.
06:10 A’anin checkpoint
Inspections were carried out opposite the entrance gate to the checkpoint, near us. A few people waited at the middle gate to be called for inspection, and from the shouting we heard there must have been a mess at the lower gate. Soon everyone, including the tractors, arrived at the middle gate, and we were told by those exiting that people were shoving, didn’t want to stay in line and that the soldiers got annoyed. A few young men were sent back home after arguments. A man who came through on a horse asked us to help his friend who’d been sent back to the village right before our eyes. Only after the checkpoint closed were we able to talk to a female MP who politely explained that she sends people (mostly younger men) back who appear likely to be planning to remain illegally in Israel: someone with a bag of clothing and a charger for his phone doesn’t intend to come back this afternoon.
Husni, the redhead, approached us – his 8-year old grandson has a blood disease. He has an appointment this coming Sunday at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, but they haven’t yet been able to obtain an entry permit to Israel. With Chana Barg’s help we learned that the appointment doesn’t yet appear in any hospital’s registry. We explained to Husni what he must do; let’s hope he manages to complete the complicated arrangements by Sunday.
People we spoke to said they didn’t trust the Palestinian state or its leadership. What difference will a state make, they said; all the money will stay at the top and we’ll never get what we need or the rights we’re entitled to, like you have.
07:10 Shaked checkpoint
No one went through the checkpoint before 07:20, though officially it opened at 07:00. The people usually crossing at this hour waited at the gate near us – pupils, teachers, government workers, other workers. The soldiers had forgotten the key to the lock of the fenced corridor and everyone waited for it. The soldiers could have taken that into account and let them go through the center of this little checkpoint, but no – ordnung muss sein. The line at the far gate on the Tura side also grew longer. The lines and the mess hadn’t gone away by the time we left.
07:45 Reihan checkpoint
We drove by on our way to the Zebda bridge. The parking lot next to the bridge was full; the number of Palestinian vehicles increases every day and creates a shortage of parking spaces. Nine loaded commercial vehicles stand on the road to the vehicle checkpoint and merchandise inspection station.
09:00 Jalameh checkpoint (Gilbo’a crossing)
A father and son wait for me to drive them to Rambam hospital. They crossed before the 08:50-9:20 break but we can’t leave yet because we must wait for the mother and three-month-old daughter who undergoes daily dialysis at Rambam.
I approach the closed terminal entrance. A guard in the tower who doesn’t realize I’m Israeli calls “Iftah el bab [open the door].” Another guard, armed with a threatening weapon, tells me to move away from the opening because it’s a security area. Meanwhile Palestinians arrive, open the gate in the fence and cross to the West Bank without having to go through the terminal.
09:20 The terminal doors open. Palestinians now arriving cross quickly to the West Bank through the terminal. Some come through in the other direction, to Israel.
09:55 The mother and infant daughter cross accompanied by the father who carries their belongings. The father returns to the terminal and we drive off.
Throughout my stay at the checkpoint there was a flow of cars belonging to Israeli Arabs at the vehicle checkpoint, on their way to the West Bank. People aren’t yet returning to Israel at this hour.
The main goal: To gather information about Palestinians in Kafr Jamal who aren’t able to cultivate their lands in the seam zone on a regular basis.
13:00 Habla checkpoint
A number of Palestinians and cars wait on both sides of the checkpoint for it to open.
13:05 The military vehicle arrives, though late; the soldiers get organized quickly and soon the first group of seven Palestinian crosses toward Habla. An Israeli vehicle belonging to a pesticide company is also permitted through after a discussion with the soldiers. The Palestinians we spoke to don’t have any complaints.
13:30 The children’s bus goes through.
14:00 Eliyahu gate checkpoint
No delays in the lanes to Israel.
14:30 Kafr Jamal
After a few phone calls and help from local residents we found the place we were to meet H.K., whom we’d met two weeks ago. We’d asked him, as did Petahya and Chana A. who’d met him last week, to prepare a list of the people who can’t get to their lands and aren’t able to cultivate them. A few other residents of the village joined us, including one who spoke Hebrew. We received a list of 14 residents who aren’t able to cultivate their lands as they should because they can’t bring a tractor and equipment to them.
They explained that in order to reach their lands after going through the Falamya gate, which is open for 12 hours, they must drive north along the security road to five gates scattered along the concertina wire fence west of the road. Three or four families used to go through each of those gates to their lands which were nearby, and they could raise various crops, other than olive trees. But these gates have been long closed. The stated reason for the closing had been damage caused by wild boars. They’ve been opened since only for a few days during the olive harvest.
They say that olive groves also have to be worked from time to time and today they have no convenient way to reach their land, and tractors can’t get there at all. They’d like those gates, at least the middle one among the five, to be open at least two days a week all year long so every farmer can reach their land, cultivate it and grow what he wants without hindrance. A reasonable request everywhere no fence separates a person from their land – that is, where there’s no occupation. About a year ago they toured the area with ‘Adel (Roni mediated) who promised he’d try to have the army open at least the middle of the five gates. The army didn’t agree.
We drove together for about one kilometer along the road to observe the area. Their lands extend all the way from Sal’it with its red roofed homes in the north to Tzur Yig’al. Large areas among the groups of vineyards seem uncultivated.
15:30 We returned via Kafr Elias.
16:00 Eliyahu gate
We noticed the signs. The right lane is for Palestinians with permits. In front of us, in the Israeli lane, the security guard had a long conversation with a driver, inspected his ID card, his car, and sent him to be checked in the shed to the right. She also was curious about us and asked (among other things) whether we weren’t afraid.
Nebi Elias: Meeting with H.A., Infrastrucure and Development advisor for Nebi Elias, Jayyus and Falamiya.
Sewage from Alfe Menashe has been flowing into their agricultural lands and near the village houses. Foul smells and mosquitoes - and all their warnings and protests are to no avail.
The Gate: The village farmers need to reach Sha'ar Eliyahu, then the entrance into Alfe Menashe and from within approach their lands, adjacent to the settlement's fence. They often encounter difficulties not addressed in the permits they have. They have requested to install an agricultural gate near the village, which will serve some 500 farmers from 'Azzun and Nebi Elias. About 1000 dunam of agricultural lands are enclosed beyond the fence. As for today, Adal, the commander of the Matak, who met with them in the past, refuses to meet with them.
They will draft a list of permit refusees with all the details, and submit it to the Palestinian Matak.
There is a new requirement today: Youths 16-18 years old are requested to present a magnetic card, incurring an expense of 100 IS and a wasted work-day.
Deir Balut: We met with the village head, K.Y.M. He is already at his job for six months. They have difficulties reaching their lands, and there is also the issue of the Bedouins' land claims. The promise of another agricultural gate has not been fulfilled. They have 8000 dunams within the seam-zone, registered as theirs and the farmer Rafa'at's. These are inaccessible for years and have been declared as Army Instruction Grounds. Another problem is damage of their olive trees. Across from them is 'Ale Zahav, which is in a construction momentum.
Translator: Charles K.
14:20 Barta’a-Reihan checkpoint
We brought Ali, our young friend, and his mother from Rambam Hospital to the checkpoint. He and his mother are allowed to go cross in a vehicle through the lane for Israelis; they only glance at the mother’s ID. The inspector apologized because he’s new and doesn’t know Ali. He called his supervisor and we crossed without incident.
The Palestinian parking lot is completely full. We didn’t enter.
14:35 Tura-Shaked checkpoint
More traffic than usual at this checkpoint. A horse and cart among those going through – very pastoral. Two families with children cross to the seam zone. A dilapidated Subaru waits for one of them, a fancy jeep for the other.
15:00 A’anin checkpoint
The soldiers arrive at the same time as we do and get ready to open the checkpoint. A dozen men, two women and one child are already waiting to cross to the village. People cross on foot and on a tractor. One tractor driver wishes us a happy holiday (Independence Day). It’s a little embarrassing.
The person who cleans the checkpoint, who lives in Tura, finishes for the day. He takes a full sack to the garbage container at the Tura checkpoint. He says the garbage container was placed there at his request. Now he’ll ask them to cover it so the stray dogs don’t scatter the garbage everywhere. He cleans checkpoints from Jubara to A’anin and talks as if he’s the one in charge.
15:40 Barta’a-Reihan checkpoint, seam zone side.
People walk down the fenced corridor on their way to their homes on the West Bank and are swallowed up in the terminal. A few families and female students cross to the seam zone. A young man crosses, carrying a bouquet of flowers for his mother. Again one of the people crossing to the West Bank complains about what happens in the morning at the Irtach checkpoint (Efrayim gate). He says we should go there, not to Barta’a. Maybe someone should suggest to Yoaz Hendel and his friends to go there; perhaps their connections will help.
A group of seamstresses returns to the West Bank from the sewing workshop in Barta’a. We haven’t seen them in a long time. We greet one another and shake hands.
16:30 We leave a checkpoint that’s operating like clockwork.
Translation: Yael Bassis-Student
16:00 Tura-Shaked checkpoint
A few drops of rain; only a few workers cross over. One of the soldiers comes out to greet us, reminding us that it is forbidden to take photos….
16:30 Barta'a-Rihan checkpoint
Groups of workers arrive at the gate and enter quickly to return home as soon as possible. One tells us that indeed there is some easing of passage in the morning, since certain groups are allowed to use this gate rather than the Irtach checkpoint located in a distance from here. But on Friday the gate opened only at 0700 and this caused great crowding at the gate, and riots. Everyone wanted to get to work on time. Are we allowed to intervene and demand an earlier opening of the gate, so that people won't be late to work?