Translation: Yael Bassis-Student
6:00 Barta'a-Rihan checkpoint
Many people who had crossed from the West Bank into the Seam Line zone are waiting from transportation at the upper car park.
Workers come out of the terminal through the sleeve in a fast pace. We spoke with the person in charge of the shift in regards to the opening of the gate on Fridays at 07:00. He claims that this hour was agreed upon by the people of Barta'a and managers of factories at the Shahak industrial zone, to everyone's satisfaction. He thinks that those crossing now hadn'tunderstood this new arrangement and continue coming at an early hour, thus creating crowding at the gate.
B., who works at the carpet factory, told us that one problem is the change of shift, which holds up the passage, and another problem has to do with the late hour at which people working in Israel return home. In Israel the work day ends early on Friday. The Israeli employers won't accept his workers being late on Fridays, so they must get up early and cross on time through the Jalama checkpoint, North, or through the Irtach checkpoint.
7:10 Tura-Shaked checkpoint
Only now the gate opens and there are already crowding and shoutingby the turnstile. Schoolchildren and students go through immediately and cross in the direction of the West Bank.
Vehicles cross on both sides, passage is swift.
People who go into the Seam line zone complain, once again, that one of the female soldiers double-inspects them.
7:40 Exit from the inspection cabin (the computer cabin) is extremely slow and by the checkpoint some cars have been waiting for 30 minutes to take the workers who are detain inside.
The Palestinian Jordan Valley
The heat in the Valley reaches 36 degrees centigrade.
Brutality of military maneuvers – again, 200 families Palestinian are evacuated from their homes for 24 hours.
Fires are started by the army to prevent Palestinians from grazing their flocks.
Maale Efrayim Checkpoint
Unmanned in the morning, manned in the afternoon.
Passengers remain in the cars as they cross in both directions. This is a significant relief in the horrendous heat that has descended on the Jordan Valley these days. But the cars are inspected, one by one, even when Nablus-bound, driving into Palestinian-controlled areas.
Forced evacuation – the suffering inflicted upon hundreds of humans as a result of the Israeli army’s war games is indescribable, and intended apparently to make them leave. About 200 families received evacuation orders from today at 6 p.m. until tomorrow at 4 p.m. All the areas near the road leading to Tyassir and the Checkpoint – Al Maleh, part of En Al Hilwa, and the area east of Alon Road (no. 578), Samara, as well as Ras Al Ahmar – west of the Alon Road, parallel to Bekaot.
These days are sizzling hot. The Palestinians say “Al diniya nar” – The world is on fire. The sun bakes the earth and one can hardly breathe. And out of all possible days, now is the time they choose to expel people – women, the elderly, sick people, and children, along with their livestock – from their homes, to sit without any shelter in the sun for a whole night and a day. This isn't the first time – in recent months, inhabitants of Al Maleh and Ras al Ahmar have been evacuated every two weeks. But this time,
because of the extreme heat, is particularly brutal. The Palestinians watch many of their sheep to die.
It is hard to view this misery and the fear of what awaits them in these 24 hours. They clasp their hands and repeatedly ask, “Shu binsawi?” What are we to do? Some hours before the evacuation, we sit wi
th the elderly couple who in January, and before that in December, lost their home to the army’s demolition action – and we have no words for them.
I have contacted the OCHA office and was told they know and have tried to persuade the army to let
the people stay, but in vain. They will bring the people water!
The novelty now is that Palestinians east of the road, in Samara, were also evacuated. The army told them it intended to fire from there towards the western side of the Alon Road. And we ask – if it’s dangerous to the point that people have to be evacuated from their homes, will the road be closed off too, the road that serves mainly Jewish settlers? Or do Jews have some kind of intrinsic special protection?
The single consolation is that the army has created an opening in the dirt dyke that separates the Jordan Valley from the hilly West Bank area, in order to deploy tanks and troops westwards from the Alon Road, and contact between the inhabitants of Hadidiya, Humsa and Makhoul and their life-center in the West Bank is now totally open.
North of the Jewish settlement Ro’i we saw an charred area of a few hundred square meters, around the army base “Sea’ra”. On our way back we witnessed the mountain southeast of Hamra Checkpoint in flames – a huge, thickly smoking fire (we were told it has been on fire for the past three days). Around the Jewish settlement of Mekhora we also saw hundreds of square meters up in flames, up to the periphery of the settlement and its fruit tree groves, as far as the eye can see. All is black, the color of the arsonists’ soul. Evidently these are controlled fires where the safety of the settlements and army camps are well looked after. The army is burning all of these areas in order to prevent Palestinians from letting their flocks graze. As if stealing all their water and denying them the possibility of tilling their fields were not enough. As if it were not enough to deny them access to most of their lands. Herds of sheep and goats are these farmers’ last resort, but the grazing area is meager and as the summer desiccates it, the Palestinians wander on and on in search of a bit of greenery. But the occupier will not grant them even this, and burns the sparse vegetation in order to prevent even this minimal source of existence. (see photos).
Translator: Charles K.
On the way to prayers – only in Israel!
At 08:30 we arrived at the checkpoint. In the “cages” were old men and women on their way to Friday prayer at Al-Aksa. Many lean on canes, standing on line with difficulty. One of the women was on the verge of collapse; only with the help of those standing in front and behind her was she able to go through. Although the line isn’t long, and the crossing goes relatively quickly – where else in the world do people on their way to prayer pass through cages like cows to milking?
When we left at 10:00 the area was empty, and not even dirty – wonder of wonders.
Nothing to report – because the occupation is the occupation, and until it stops denying Palestinians their civil rights we’ll continue to report the dehumanization at the checkpoints which is an inherent component of rule over another people.
End the occupation!!
Translator: Charles K.
No effort is made to open the checkpoints at a set time.
Those manning the checkpoints are still refusing entry to people who don’t appear to be dressed in a manner “appropriate” to a Palestinian fellah.
06:10-07:00 People may cross through the A’anin checkpoint only if their clothes are dirty.
It’s quiet, silent. There are indications that soldiers are at the checkpoint, but no one goes through. That lasts until 06:30. Inspections were conducted in the middle of the checkpoint, behind the main gate. Only 20 people went through by 07:00, at a very slow rate. Those exiting said the computer was down and information was being recorded by hand. Well – that explains everything.
The mistreatment continues of people claiming they’re on their way to work in the fields but are dressed too cleanly. A female soldier with a well-developed sense of fashion sends home those she thinks are dressed too elegantly for manual labor. That seems to her very suspicious. It’s clear that the Palestinians have already developed ways to outwit her and the MPs’ fashion decrees. Neta spoke to the soldier on duty at the DCO about delays in allowing people through; I spoke to him about the clothes – but the soldier, despite his willingness to help, didn’t really understand who I was, what we’re doing at the checkpoint, why aren’t they allowing us through, and are we really sure that the military police are picking on Palestinians because of the clothes they’re wearing…
07:10-07:25 The Shaked checkpoint also awakens slowly.
Here too they opened late; a line of little children and adults formed on the seam zone side, and of laborers on the Tura side. Crossing began at about 07:15, calmly, everyone knows what’s allowed and what’s forbidden, only holders of crossing-permits show up, so what’s not to like? Why should any problems arise? What a successful occupation.
07:25-07:50 Yabed-Dothan checkpoint
The side road to Yabed that turns off the main road to Jenin is blocked to cars by a heavy yellow iron bar, one of the occupation’s earmarks. In addition, a military jeep was parked there, apparently to prevent people from going through on foot.
We arrived at the checkpoint and here, too – life had come to a halt. Cars waited on both sides while the soldiers conducted some kind of attack/defense exercise, ran around with their weapons, fell to the ground, kneeled, squinted and aimed, etc. Finally they gathered around a low-ranking officer who apparently summed up their fling and went on his way. And then the crossing opened; traffic flowed in both directions without delays while we were there.
08:00 Reihan checkpoint
We drove by without entering this large, busy checkpoint. Seven commercial vehicles waited to have their loads inspected. The parking lot is jammed. Few people were in the fenced corridor leading up from the terminal.
03:55 We arrive before the gates open
Annaline notices new work on a sewer and a security fence. Solid structures intended to last a long time.
04:02 The gate opened on time, more or less. The women’s gate opened at the same time and closed at 04:09 after all the women on the separate line had entered. Women who arrived late had to join the regular line.
The ecumenicals reportthat there are again holes in the corridor fences, on both sides, at two places. We heard again, from one of the guards, the story of how they repair the fence and the Palestinians come with professional tools and make holes to go through. The new holes will be repaired soon…
On our way to the exit Israel guards approach us requesting we notify them when we arrive, before we go to the separation fence on the Palestinian side. That’s a new request. They say the army has the fence under observation to prevent it from being breached and it disturbs them when we move around the area…
At the exit gate, the flow of people exiting is interrupted from time to time. Occasionally the gate stops turning for about thirty seconds. When it’s open about thirty people per minute go through. And as expected when the corridor fences have been breached – people report an uproar on the line, say that two Palestinian Authority ambulances were called to collect persons who’d been trampled. One man tells us he fell down and would have been trampled to death had not his two friends pulled him free.
A man comes out, extremely upset, saying that one of the staff accused him of talking on a cell phone (is that forbidden?), and when he said he hadn’t – he was removed from the line and made to stand off to the side and threatened he’d be handcuffed if he didn’t behave properly (an example, says Annaline, of the saying in Proverbs 30:22, “when a servant shall reign…”). He told us he had to stand there 45 minutes until he was allowed to continue along his Via Dolorosa to the exit.
05:20 We left.
On her way home, Annaline stopped at the Eyal checkpoint and counted six Afikim company buses waiting to take Palestinians to various destinations (some minivans also). Why aren’t there similar buses at the Efrayim gate?
Regarding health insurance for Palestinian workers in Israel: they pay Bituach Leumi, which in Israel provides accident insurance and makes them eligible for health insurance in a Palestinian HMO. When the Palestinian Authority has no money – they can’t obtain medications, even though they’re insured…
Translator: Charles K.
“They don’t honor the permits they’ve issued” because “today they’re screening.”
Maybe because of last week’s uproar on the Temple Mount, maybe because of the heat wave, maybe because that’s just how things work here, today they decided upstairs to change the rules. Except they didn’t bother to notify in advance the people subject to those rules. Today, Friday, the day for worship, for errands, an order came down from on high (high up where, exactly?) that only women, and men older than 60, will be permitted through for prayers. Others, with standing permits (merchant’s crossing permit), aren’t allowed through. Those who’d made appointments ahead of time, who gathered all the required permits, who’d received a special permit for today (for a consular or a hospital appointment) aren’t allowed through.
At 09:00 the area beyond the initial revolving gates is full of Israeli police and DCO representatives of various ranks, but the latter keep quiet (except for one polite young man) and leave things to the police (?), in particular to an officer who refuses to speak to us and behaves superciliously – if not rudely - to everyone. Only one lane operating.
The police officer stands on the other side of the bars and screens those waiting. “Irja la’aura” [go back]!” he tells everyone who doesn’t meet this morning’s criteria. And there’s no appeal. Those turned back push through the ones waiting between the bars. There’s no humanitarian lane. The only crossing is via the screening lane - for old men and women, the halt and the lame.
A man with a permit, who’s employed as a painter and was supposed to finish a job for an elderly couple (who are living in the midst of the mess and are angry that the painter isn’t coming to complete the job as promised, and they can’t put everything back in place by themselves, and it’s Friday…) tried to go back (and perhaps even sneak in) through the congested line. His permit was confiscated. He’ll be able to get it back at the DCO, probably after a complaint is filed against him and he’s fined…
A polite DCO representative explains that many eyes are on the checkpoint today, that the orders from above can’t be altered. He hopes that people will be allowed to enter after 12:00 (after the consulates close, after losing a day of work).
People at the checkpoint are very angry. Some of the stories: about cement costing thousands of shekels scheduled to be poured today, and won’t be; about the Jewish owner of a flower shop waiting at the store for his worker, not able to understand why his colleague is being detained, particularly on Friday, when he’s even more urgently needed; about a university teacher from Italy, married to a Palestinian, who spent weeks assembling all the required permits to go to the consulate with her family (her son is leaving to study in Italy), and she’s irate, weeping, humiliated. “She’s not yet used to such treatment,” says her husband. She’s lived here for five years and still hasn’t come to terms with the arbitrariness and helplessness that is the lot of her new compatriots.
Dozens of people crowd at the fence, running back and forth, stretching hands with documents toward every approaching officer, pleading for understanding, for permission. “You want us to become violent,” says one man, a merchant who’s been refused to cross on business, “but we won’t succumb to temptation. And eventually you’ll collapse.”
Translator: Charles K.
14:04 Curve 160, Hebron
We stopped because we saw a gathering of paratroopers, Border Police, police, including officers, a police vehicle, a settler vehicle, two settlers. One of the settlers said shots had been fired at the checkpoint. Those present appeared to be engaged in consultations or an investigation. We waited. The senior paratrooper, Avi, the Hebron brigade commander (religious), said he’d explain to us what was going on after he completed the investigation. He also questioned the settler off to the side, who seemed to have been an eyewitness. Then the settlers drove away in their vehicle. It turned out that a Palestinian youth set off about 30 fireworks directly toward the checkpoint from between the concrete barriers along the side. The brigade commander was very critical of the way the force at the checkpoint behaved – “they didn’t try to make contact; they should have gotten him.” I said to him, grinning, that it was probably because there were no female soldiers there… He also said that a police vehicle that passed by also didn’t catch the shooter. Bottom line – a failure. We should note that Palestinians kept going through the checkpoint during the investigation. We also note that everyone involved behaved politely toward us, except for one of the policemen – maybe the one who’d just been reprimanded by the brigade commander.
14:30 Tel Rumeida
A conversation with Issa Amru, the Palestinian who runs a neighborhood cultural center in the building above Beit Rumeida. He’s an electrical engineer; he teaches courses dealing with electricity. Issa is a model of non-violent resistance to the occupation by, among other things, strengthening Palestinian civil society. Michael, Tzipi’s son, lived and worked there with him for a while.
The building belongs to a family holding a blue ID card which has a house in East Jerusalem; they moved there at the beginning of the second intifada. The army turned the house into a fortress for a while. After the army left, settlers entered, but the building was in very poor condition and not habitable despite their wish to take possession of it. Finally Issa rented it from the owner, but the settlers didn’t let him move in; he received legal assistance from Michael Sfarad, the attorney. The driver transporting the settlers’ children was caught in the yard with a gun; he’d planned to fire into the building. The water pipes were sabotaged, a couch was set on fire, abusive graffiti was sprayed on the walls, rocks thrown. Boys and girls once exposed themselves before the residents, claiming that if the onlookers are gentiles the Torah permits.
Hebrew classes for women are offered there, at the women’s request, and also English classes. Na’ama, from Psychoactive, comes from Jerusalem to teach. Friendships have developed, including mutual family visits. There are spare time activities for children, doll-making. There are classes in still and video photography, how to upload to Facebook, to document their daily lives, their dreams, not only the problems with soldiers and settlers. Palestinian volunteers teach journalism courses to activists. The Association for Civil Rights helps teach legal subjects such as the rights of detainees – Limor Yehuda and Gabi Laski. They show films. Girls learn English, and also the samba (drumming, not dancing…)
The security forces back up the settlers: the land adjoining Beit Romano is privately owned by a Palestinian, the settlers are nevertheless building there and the new structure completely blocks an adjacent Palestinian house. It’s no surprise; why, in the base on the main road soldiers and settlers live together. Issa reminds us that, according to international law, civilians living in the base become legitimate military targets. The settlers at Tel Rumeida regularly violate Israeli law. They raise horses and other animals, plant crops and trees and refuse to leave the Al-Bakri house despite a High Court order. The army and police claim they’re unable to stop them. The security forces’ support of the settlers explains the recent decrease of settler violence against Palestinians – they don’t have to be violent as in the past because the security forces are essentially doing what they ask.
The powerlessness of the police: Only two policemen, with one vehicle, are stationed in Hebron, in the area for which Israel has full responsibility. The Palestinians know that the policemen stationed in Hebron keep requesting transfers. An Arabic-speaking policeman told Issa that the police are not allowed even to issue citations to settlers for traffic violations – driving without lights, transporting more than the permitted number of children, not wearing seat belts, speeding, etc. And the police certainly don’t defend the Palestinians even though they’re fully subject to Israeli sovereignty. Saturdays and Jewish holidays are the worst times – performances, thefts, uprooting trees. Even when the settlers invaded the building they call Beit HaMachpela, the police claimed they didn’t see anything.
The case of the spring below Tel Rumeida: Anat Cohen had dreamed it was a holy site and the settlers continue to take it over and build around it despite the Turkish land registry ownership document possessed by the Palestinian owner of the land. His complaints to the police about trespassing do no good. When he tried to dismantle what the settlers had built the police made him put everything back and submit another complaint.
The case of the Abu Ayesha family: They used to live in Beit Hadassah. Before 1929 they were partners with Jews in a business making yogurt. During the riots they protected their Jewish neighbors and other Jews, and the account of their heroism appears in Sefer Hevron. Instead of receiving gratitude they were forced out of their home to Tel Rumeida, but the settlers took that over as well and their home is fenced for protection like a cage. Their story became known when they photographed a female settlers yelling “bitch” through the window bars at the woman of the house. The old man still living with them says he knows Jews; these settlers aren’t Jews… His sons, who live elsewhere, aren’t able to visit him without a special permit. Nor are they even able to obtain a permit to renovate the crumbling interior of the old house. Another family that saved Jews in 1929 is convinced that the settlers, not Hamas, are the ones destroying the state of Israel.
The importance of video documentation: Channel Two accompanied Baruch Marzel’s election campaign in Hebron (he was number 3 on the “Otzma LeYisrael” list). Issa ridiculed him before the cameras for not dressing in a dignified manner as befitting a Knesset member. Marzel invaded Issa’s home and hit him in the face. The video showing that Issa didn’t even hit him back wasn’t any help – the police backed Marzel and accused Issa of attacking him even though the police know him and are aware he never behaves violently. In another incident, when soldiers were jogging as usual in Hebron, a Palestinian was arrested because it was claimed he hit the soldiers; he spent a month in jail until the judge agreed to watch a video documenting the incident that proved the soldiers had beaten him, not the opposite – and although the man was released the soldiers weren’t punished. Another incident: One day Issa went through a checkpoint and a soldier called him a “motherfucker.” Issa berated him, saying that unlike the curses he gets from settlers, who are private individuals, a soldier in uniform represents the state. The argument with the soldier got worse when Rav Levinger’s daughter-in-law happened to come by and accused Issa of sexual harassment. A crowd gathered, the Nahal commander in Hebron pushed him against the wall and threatened him. Issa told him he’s recording everything on his cellphone, and everything’s being recorded on video. Issa was arrested and insisted on providing the evidence – the cellphone recording – only to a policeman, not a soldier. But the policeman gave the cellphone to the soldier who erased the recording. The military police investigation of the incident will probably take forever.
The “security requirements” excuse is a lie: Fact, Marzel entered Issa’s house to hit him, knew there were many men in the house; had he feared for his safety he wouldn’t have done so. Another example: When Dov Hanin came to Hebron as part of his Knesset election campaign, Issa wanted to march with him in the street. The police didn’t let him. He walked in parallel instead on the wall of the Moslem cemetery bordering the street and called down to them from above – Where am I more dangerous? When I’m above you, or when I’m walking beside you?
We returned via Tel Rumeida. We saw the neighboring Palestinian house that the settlers didn’t succeed in taking over; they’re “only” throwing garbage into its yard. Next door is the house the settlers did manage to take over and aren’t leaving despite the High Court decision, and then the caged-in Palestinian home whose residents, the descendants of the Righteous Gentiles from 1929, live in fear every day. A bored Border Police soldier up the road plays with two settler toddlers, teaching them to climb a fence and giving them marching drills.
16:15 Below the Eshtamoa outpost we see construction underway to expand the settlement. Then a caravan of decorated Palestinian cars drives toward us, apparently celebrating the release of Palestinian inmates. A van with Palestinian license plates passes, slogans in Hebrew – Shalom Haver, Ahava LaNetzah. The flow of laborers returning from Israel flows through the Meitar crossing; a bustling vegetable market awaits them on the other side on their way home.
Translator: Charles K.
1. The detained youth (photographed by the guest)
2. Barrier on the road to the Tayasir checkpoint
3. Tires placed by the Palestinians to mark road repairs
11:45 Bezeq checkpoint
We went through.
The greenery and spring blossoms are glorious.
The occupation continues to be disgusting and infuriating.
Alon Road – Highway 578
An army jeep parked by the roadside opposite the entrance to the Ro’i settlement. Across the way, at the intersection, stood a large, sparkling Toyota pickup truck.
We stopped to photograph.
A reservist approached to explain that the military security coordinator (with the sparkling Toyota) reported on a Palestinian youth who had been “watching the settlement.” He has no documents, no flock and “has no business near the settlement,” so he has to be detained and taken to the Beqa’ot checkpoint where they’ll know what to do with him. At our request, the polite soldier gave us the youth’s ID number. We explained that if the youth should happen to disappear, the family will know why.
12:15 Hamra checkpoint
Cars going in both directions. At about 12:25 we saw that the youth had been released and left.
Suddenly (12:25) the loudspeakers announced, repeatedly: Checkpoint closed, checkpoint closed.
There were no cars on the road, so we stopped to see whether the checkpoint closed because we were there. That was the reason. One of the two soldiers who approached us made it clear, in a rude and despicable manner, that the checkpoint will remain closed until we’re out of his sight.
In brief – he chased us away.
He refused to give his name; he said his commander ordered him to chase us away so we won’t bother him…
Meanwhile a few cars had arrived, filling the road. We saw the soldiers signaling to cars coming from the west to turn around and go back.
12:45 Even when we’d returned to our car and began driving away the loudspeaker kept announcing “Checkpoint closed, checkpoint closed.” We could still hear the announcement from afar as we drove north. The road shoulders were too narrow to pull over.
We tried to use our rear-view mirrors to see what was going on; it was hard to know when the soldiers opened the checkpoint.
13:05 The road up to the Tayasir checkpoint runs through a green, flowering landscape; the sheep enjoy the bounty.
Oops! A jeep parked perpendicularly to the road blocks our way just before Hamam el-Malih.
No one may pass!!
A soldier explains that explosive devices may have been planted on the road.
He clarifies: “They [the Palestinians] did some work on the road and we’re afraid they might have planted explosives. A tracker will arrive within half an hour to take a look.” We asked him about the two ATV’s we saw on the way. “We made all the Israelis touring Hamam el-Malih to leave.”
There were four tires on the road in addition to the jeep that blocked the way.
The Palestinians who stopped behind us explained. They repaired the pits that had opened in the road by filling them with cement and placed tires at those locations to warn drivers not to drive over the repairs (which they had, in fact, done by themselves). An army water truck was allowed through the dangerous area.
The soldier who spoke to us said, as if revealing a secret, that they know who did it; he’s even detained in their jeep.
We asked for information about the detainee, even though the entire story sounded like a bluff, to spread a rumor among the Palestinian drivers and passengers that what appear to be road repairs were really sabotage, and that they caught the person responsible
13:25 We left.
14:45 Bezeq checkpoint
“Everything’s OK,” and we went through.
I called Dafna in the afternoon, in case that driver had been in contact with her. She and Tal were then in the Jordan Valley; she said that at about 14:00 they reached the Tayasir checkpoint and had seen no roadblock.
Translation: Suzanne O.
On the radio they talk about the budding Intifada – around Nablus only the almond trees are in bud.
'Today the roadblock is not good' say the labourers. It turns out that one of the computer stations is not working and the exit queue moves very slowly. Tens of people crowd around the turnstiles. According to the labourers the waiting time is over an hour. The soldiers are not prepared to put in place someone to take notes manually. According to them their business is to take care of security and order not the welfare of the labourers.
At the entrance to the roadblock there is a new red sign. It does not prohibit the entrance to the village, just warns that it is dangerous for Israelis to enter. Is this not pronouncing a verdict?
There is no police presence at the exit from Israel.
There are no soldiers in the checkpoints.
Almost without our noticing it the settlers' buffet in the car park, which has been there for years, has been dismantled. One of those waiting for a lift says it has been removed because it had no licence. Has the law of the land reached settler country?
There is no military activity.
A military vehicle is parked at the side but does not interfere with the flow of traffic.
In the village itself the children are on their way to school. They have not heard on the Israeli radio that no schools are open on the West Bank so that the children are free to throw stones.
The yellow barrier still bars the crossing.
The roadblock is not staffed.
On the way up to Bracha – a soldier.
Heavy traffic of lorries exiting.
For an hour and a half, during the busiest time, the 'Azzun' Atma checkpoint was closed because of the soldiers’ whims.
06:05 'Azzun 'Atma checkpoint
About 90 people wait in a longer line than usual at this hour. The checkpoint commander immediately wants to move us back, but only symbolically. He must demonstrate who’s in charge, and continues doing so later.
The line begins about a meter behind the checkpoint gate; only two at a time are permitted to advance and stand ready to continue toward the inspection point. But, like all lines, it slowly moves closer to the gate, which is an obvious indicator of how far they can go, unlike the imaginary line farther from the gate at which they were supposed to stand because of the soldiers’ whims.
06:20. Nobody goes through! The soldiers close the gate. That’s it! It’s time to teach the Palestinians a lesson.
The Palestinians stubbornly remain standing at the gate. The truth is that it’s very difficult to push back a line of nearly 100 people. And meanwhile more join the motionless line.
The checkpoint commander arrives a few minutes later (he’d been hunting people who were sneaking through holes in the fence – there were more than a few). Now, as at the Habla checkpoint last week, the army begins “educating” the Palestinians. We telephoned the DCO – they said they’d take care of it.
Meanwhile, the soldiers leave the (closed) gate and wander around the checkpoint, chatting. The tension rises among those waiting behind the fence; a few soldiers return to argue with the Palestinians but the situation doesn’t change and nothing happens.
Another call to the DCO doesn’t bring any result. We’re told, “the Palestinians aren’t obeying the soldiers.”
Nevertheless, army personnel arrive, mutter to us “It’ll be ok…”, wander around the checkpoint and… leave, and nothing happens.
Children arrive on their way to school, wait to cross to 'Azzun 'Atma from the “Israeli” side. After a while the soldier with the key to the vehicle gate is located and the children go through.
The checkpoint commander went hunting again, returning with a man who’d gone through a hole in the fence because he had to get to work. His ID was confiscated; he was sent back to the 'Azzun' Atma side.
07:05 The gate opens, two people cross, the gate closes again, two more cross and again the gate closes. At 07:10 the gate closes and doesn’t reopen. We phone A., the DCO commander, who promises to take care of it.
A boy comes riding a bicycle. The soldier who’s supposed to open the gate isn’t there and it takes a while until he appears to let the boy cross to school.
07:30 We contacted Chana B. All this time, the soldiers are wandering around the checkpoint, joking, having a good time, while a mass of people beyond the gate are anxious not to lose a day of work. But no one cares.
07:50 People are getting angry, yelling at the soldiers – the situation is pretty frightening.
08:00 Reinforcements arrive; the soldiers go to the line and try to restore order. Now they open the gate and begin letting people through four at a time, closing the gate after them until their inspection is complete.
A., from the DCO, called us twice to find out what was going on. The first time was after he’d been told that everything was alright, but it wasn’t. The second time there had, in fact, been a change, and people began crossing.
08:25 Habla checkpoint. The gate is still open (it’s supposed to close at 08:15); some cars, a cart and people are still going through, until no one remains and the soldiers close the crossing.
08:40 Eliyahu gate. Everything as usual; no line of people crossing on foot.
We gave a man documents to sign for submission to the court so he could be removed from the Shabak’s blacklist. Then we went home exhausted, sad and angry.