Identification Cards (ID)
Oranit Bus Depot, Thursday 4:15 p.m.
2 minutes after we arrived at the site, a police car came and 3 black-clad policemen disembarked.
A minute later, bus no.286 arrived, coming from Tel Aviv's central bus station, destination Ariel colony in the West Bank. The bus stoped at the station. One of the policemen got on through its front door, another through the back, and then, slowly, Palestinians began to disembark - one, then another one, and another... about 20 men. Some take out their bags from the luggage compartment, others carry their ragged plastic bags.
A policeman lines them up in front of him and orders them to show their IDs and permits. I ask whether he is the one who took the Palestinians off the bus. He affirms. "Why?" I ask. "To check whether they have entry permits into Israel".
The other passengers, the privileged, members of the Chosen People, some wearing skullcaps (yamulkas), others in the uniform of the 'most moral army in the world', some secular women, others Ethiopian Jewish women with headscarves, watched the show indifferently. They do not see human beings who have worked hard all week and are dying to put their feet up at home with a little child in their lap. They see "Arabs". It does not concern us... Well, perhaps a bit - now there's more room to stretch our legs in the bus, it's less crowded... And anyway, "they" could even blow themselves up inside the bus, God forbid...
The bus drives off and I ask the policeman how these people are going to continue their journey, after all they had bought a ticket. He told me not to worry, while one of the Palestinians gestured a walking man with his fingers...
When I tell the policeman that he is committing an unlawful act, he angrily orders me to show him my ID, and if I don't shut up, he'll detain me. All the Palestinians wave their entry permits, and the policeman says they now have to come with him to "Yoav Crossing", several kilometers further (the checkpoint blocking the village of Azoun Atme), for they were supposed to exit Israel through the Eyal Crossing, where they had entered. One of the men shows the policeman his permit, which specifies they mustenter Israel at Eyal, but not a word about their having to exit there as well (or any other specific checkpoint). The policeman, however, ignores him and silences him roughly. Another bus arrives, destined for Ariel, but the policeman tells them they cannot board another bus because "this is a border crossing, and like any other border crossing, you must not cross it!" He collects all their IDs and permits. All the while, another policeman stands by him, his gun pointed, and another policeman remains seated inside the car.
I called Ofra and loudly asked her to alert the media. The policeman hastily finishes his ID check, returns the documents to their Palestinian owners, and within minutes he boards the police car, and disappears.
The Palstinians remain standing at the depot. It is already dark and cold. I offer them a ride to "Yoav Crossing", a short drive away. Some of them join me, others prefer to try their luck with the next bus. When I return to the depot and my friend says they must have boarded a bus. We head for Tel Aviv. On our way, about 200 meters from the station, in the direction of Tel Aviv, I see all the Palestinians who had been forced off the bus earlier, marching back east-bound towards the bus depot - apparently (I'm only guessing!), under pressure to get home and fear they would not be allowed to ride, they never noticed they were boarding the 286 bus going in the opposite direction - to Tel AViv. When they realized their mistake, they must have stopped the bus, descended, and begun to march back towards the depot, not at all certain whether they would make it home tonight.
Translator: Hanna K.
Azzun Atma 06:00 – When we arrived we were approached by a young man who has an authorization to go out and work on his fields, although he is disallowed. Because of that each time he tries to go out he is delayed, for an hour to two. At the DCO they told him that there was nothing to be done, that's how it is.
There are renovations in process at the CP. A new structure for checking, which has not yet been opened, has been put up, and in the meantime the checking is carried out in the old building. An awning was added for people who wait in the queue.
Over 100 people stand in the queue.
One man was waiting on the side, within the fence. To our enquiry he replied: He has an authorization which he forgot at home, therefore he tried to go over the fence. He was caught and his ID card was taken from him. Now he waits for it to be returned. In the meantime he was joined by some other illegal aliens who were caught, and were waiting…
There was a group of people who work night shifts at Azzun Atma and live on the Israeli side of Azzun Atma. According to them they return each morning to their homes without being checked. The soldiers intended letting them pass and then a lieutenant military policewoman intervenedand made them pass through the queue. When we asked her she replied that their papers could be forged.
Habla 07.15 – the queue is small, perhaps owing to the rain.
Two busses with children arrived. The driver gets out and is checked, reenters, opens the luggage lids, the soldiers check, the woman soldiers peeps into the bus from time to time and then they pass.
Translation: Ruth Fleishman
Eid-Al- Fiter- the holiday that marks the end of the Ramadan month and the anniversary of the completion of the writing of the Quran. A holiday of forgiveness, peace and fraternity. During this day it is customary to visit relatives and friends, stay at their homes, reconcile the hawks and settle disputes.
The large crowd at the checkpoint was greeted by filth and shrieking voices coming out of the PA system.
A foreign student whose visa had expired presented before the soldier an official document with an extension. The soldier who wasn't certain whether or not it was valid, told her to go to the fifth lane: "to the Muhabarat" he said.
We followed her to the lane which up until that moment we understood to be the one leading to the DCO offices. But the shout that the soldier in charge of opening the turnstile sounded, over and over again every few minutes: "Bas el-barid, wa-el-muhabarat!" removed our doubts (if indeed we had any), regarding the identity of the operators of the occupation, the bureaus that decide the fate of the Palestinians- whether for correction or for mercy, and it had also emphasized that the humanitarian hot lines or the health and co-ordination hotlines, are only but a fig leaf hiding the disgrace of the occupation.
And as for the student- she was swallowed inside the back rooms and as she had a European citizenship, it is likely that no harm will come to her.
The commander that crossed the road and ask who we were and why, explained that the checkpoint was supposed to prevent Jews from heading in the direction of Qalandiya. "That place", he said, "is known to be dangerous and there had been incidents…" and he told us that the passing month, the Ramadan, was boring because their activity was limited, but now they were supposed to get back to their routine – to patrol inside the Palestinian villages in the area and invade homes, and not for nothing, but to make arrests.
When asked why his soldiers also detain vehicles with Palestinian plates he replied that it was important to have them searched from time to time. He didn't think or assume that he would actually find anything suspicious, but just that "it's important that the Palestinian know that they are always being examined…"
In the IDF lingo this activity in called: creating a sense of persecution.
Translator: Charles K.
At 7 AM there was still a line of laborers and a line of people going to visit relatives in Israeli prisons. There weren’t any significant delays.
We saw people detained by the Border Police at the checkpoints in front of the police station and at the Cave of the Patriarchs. They were detained for long periods, up to 30 minutes. At the police station checkpoint there were ISM observes who told us that during the past two weeks Border Police soldiers had beaten youths.
For 30 minutes we observed detainees at the checkpoint in front of the Cave of the Patriarchs. One youth was required to give his cell phone to the Border Police soldier. The soldier apparently checked the recent calls and the names that appeared, and the youth had to call his brother who came and was also checked. Then the youth had to fill out a form and received a summons for interrogation. The purpose of all that may have been to impress Ofer (active, notoriously harassing settler), who was there with his video camera and whose racist and belligerent comments invited that response.
It was very sad at Bassam’s.
Here’s what he told us: On May 28, the day after Shavuot, settlers (led by Anat Cohen, Baruch Marzel and Moshe Levinger) from Kiryat Arba and accompanied by soldiers and police came and stopped the construction of the second floor of his building (bassem has it all documented with a video camera provided by B'Tzelem). They also tried to go up to the roof and demolish what had already been built. A tractor removed the construction materials that Bassam and volunteers had carried up from in front of the building. Bassam: “They let us move all the materials and only then the bulldozer came and removed them. They ordered us to remove the rest of the gravel that had remained in front of the building. They forbade us to go up to the roof, lest we continue building, God forbid."
Baruch Marzel pulled a knife on Bassam in the presence of the army and the police, who did nothing. He has a building permit from the Hebron municipality. On Wednesday there will be a meeting about it in the municipal building.
On the walls of the building and along the street homemade signs have been posted, reading: “Stop building terrorist nests on the route to the Cave of the Patriarchs.” Bassam keeps the documentation in his workshop.
Signs calling for “Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria” have recently been posted everywhere. That’s being applied literally in Hebron.
06:40 am, Bethlehem – Checkpoint 300 (Rachel Crossing):
almost no vehicles; two buses waiting for workers.
Mutual greetings and smiles.
It was pleasant to observe the easy hastening to a day of labour.
The parking lot was closed at both ends, we don't know why.
We met a young man waiting to exit, and to our inquiry were told that his ID had been appropriated. I asked the female soldier for the reason and was told that inquiries were being made. Before long the young man's ID was returned and he could leave for work.
At ten minutes to seven there was a massive influx of people from the inspection room in the direction of the exits. These were merchants who can enter Israel from seven o'clock. Together with them a group went through the humanitarian crossing. The exit was relaxed, with right of way for women and children.
We left at 7:15.
Translator: Charles K.
06:10 A’anin checkpoint
The gates are still locked, the soldiers are late; we telephone the DCO. The soldiers arrive at 06:15, open the checkpoint. Wahel, the DCO representative, also shows up in his vehicle. Some 30 people, a few tractors and a bicycle go through. The Bedouin children waiting for their ride review material for an exam.
06:50 Shaked-Tura checkpoint
Three early-rising pupils already wait at the checkpoint. Soldiers begin to arrive and open the checkpoint early. More and more soldiers and officers show up; the checkpoint fills with army personnel. Apparently officers from brigade headquarters and from the DCO have come to see the upgraded checkpoint and all its new facilities. We’re impressed by the white tent suspended high above a pavilion of green glass in the center of the checkpoint.
07:30 We pass the Reihan checkpoint. Eight pickup trucks wait on the road to cross.
07:40 Dothan checkpoint
The checkpoint is manned, the soldiers stopping cars in both directions to inspect documents. A soldier comes over, asks for our “I-D” (identity card), to confirm we’re Israelis. We’d never been asked to show IDs; he says, to our surprise, that it’s because there’d been “R-T” (rock throwing) here. The army and its abbreviations…
One car detained off to the side.
After a while people travelling toward Jenin are no longer inspected, just those going toward the Reihan checkpoint.
08:30 We pass the Reihan checkpoint again. The parking lot is full; people walk through the fenced corridor to the waiting taxis. We return via east Barta’a. People are waking up; we visit our friend V.
Translating: Ruth Fleishman
A man who was missing an arm stood and looked over through the fence at a police car.
"Stand away from the fence!- don't come near the fence!- don't you understand Hebrew?!..." the tower yelled. The man who was missing an arm stayed by the fence, supported by a traffic sign indicating of a parking spot reserved for invalids alone, and waited. He didn't seem sad or miserable. He just stood there and waited.
Two days earlier, when he was returning with his daughter from the Friday prayers at El-Aqsa, a police officer took his identity card from him. On that day he came back. Perhaps, and he didn't actually know how or by whose hands, they would him his ID back.
"That's him, over there, behind the fence, the man who is missing an arm, over there… "We explained to Moti the police officer. "He could be also missing a foot", said the BP officer guarding officer Moti as he was handing out traffic tickets to those heading out of Palestine.
Moti listened, he spoke on the phone with Nadim Asi who had his ID taken from him by the policeman, and concluded that they wanted to punish him because his daughter did have her Kushan (=birth certificate). But he, said Moti, couldn't help, it might be at the police station behind the checkpoint, maybe at the border police base in Atarot, or maybe at the police station in Nave Ilan or perhaps they simply shoved into one of those boxes… (he was referring to the complaint boxes on the side of the winding roads of Qalandiya passage).
We followed his advice and headed to the military entrance. Avi the police officer came towards us, he wrote all the details, and then he went away and came back, he said that the ID wasn't there, at the police station. He said that Nadim should go to the DCL on the next day to ask whether they had a solution to this problem.
Nadim, the man who was missing an arm, was probably an innocent victim of the overreaction of the security forces to the demonstration supporting the hunger strike of the administrative detainees that was held on the Palestinian side of the checkpoint. The remains of the tear gas still stung in the eyes, steaming fumes of sickening stenches from the skunk machine, rose from the puddles that had accumulated inside potholes on the defective roads and as remains of the fire that had been shot, on the ground laid the empty casing of a: grenade that is used against protesters known as a RARNAG, it is place on top of the rifle's barrel and shot with a blank cartridge that thrusts the content of the "can" with grate force forward. The can contains small metal balls that are covered with rubber, there are strict orders regarding the use of this weapon. *
*I received this information from an interviewer from Breaking the Silence.
06:05 A'anin: Agricultural CP
They are doing inspection in the middle of the CP; people are waiting. The ritual is routine: A resident approaches the soldiers, stops, shows his permit; sometimes he bends down and waits. The soldier stands opposite him with arms crossed or hands in his pockets; sometimes he looks to see what is in the bag and then the resident takes stuff out and shows it to him – a pita and water, and perhaps a slice of cheese and olives. Another soldier examines the computer. The document is returned to its owner. That is how about 30 residents of A'anin, young and old, go through, some on a donkey, or on a tractor. Sometimes, the human mass takes a few extra steps ahead and then the soldier yells at them in Hebrew and threatens to close the CP gate if they do not retreat. They go back or they do not and the routine goes on. A farmer on his tractor goes through and the soldier tells him to yell at those who are waiting to go back. The tractor driver cooperates and yells the instructions in Arabic adding body language so that they will be entirely clear. A young man arrives with his sick father's permit; he asks to go through to the family's land in his stead. They take his ID and tell him to wait. Toward closing time, they return the ID and send him back home. When we asked about this, the soldier answers: "We work according to the book. If there is a permit, he goes through, if there is no permit, he doesn't go through."
The sweet children are waiting for their ride and in the meantime are reviewing lessons; today there is an exam! And we are free of their bother.
07:00 We leave after the soldiers close quickly.
07:15 Barta'a – Reihan
Many people arrive at the CP in cars, taxis or on foot. Most of them go through to East Barta'a. They tell us that you can't really make a living there. They 'dry out' for a whole day, and in the end have only a few Grush in hand. They claim that Jenin has become a prosperous market town again, and that is at Barta'a's expense.
Passage is quick, and there are no delays. Pickup trucks are being inspected. Others are waiting their turn. The CP itself is being renewed; the stone wall is full of beautiful landscapes; plants are flowering and the Israeli flag flies proudly in the center of the traffic circle. A site of tourism and holidays.
07:45 We shorten our shift. We are taking Ali to the hospital.
Translator: Charles K.
An eviction order was issued to the brothers of the Darajmah family living on the outskirts of the Maskiyot settlement. This was after considerable harassment by the settlers, led by the settlement’s IDF security coordinator who, in one incident, abused the Bedouin’s horse so badly that he killed it. The horse’s owner was afraid to file a complaint. The harassment was intended to make their lives so unbearable that they’d leave. Now the Civil Administration is doing what the settlers want, ordering the Bedouin to remove his encampment, his family and his flock within 30 days, or else bulldozers will forcibly remove him. The land belongs to the Christian Patriarchate in Jerusalem, which does not object to the Bedouins’ presence, but it won’t fight for them. He also contacted an attorney who said nothing can be done. Yesh Din apparently said the same thing.
The Civil Administration foiled an EU initiative to construct a water cistern for the benefit of the Bedouin shepherds in the area of Hamam el Maliah, after having dispossessed them from the spring next to the Maskiyot settlement.
The young shepherd who had been severely beaten by Rotem’s security coordinator dared file a complaint with the police, which indicted the attacker. That’s truly a revolution in the behavior of the Jordan Valley authorities – to indict a settler for harming a Bedouin?!
The Shabak detained Palestinian police officers from Nablus, on their way to a conference in Jericho, at Tapuach junction to inspect their documents.
Za’tara checkpoint – Tapuach junction 11:15
Three Palestinian vehicles detained in the plaza for document inspection. Border Police soldiers give the documents to someone behind the plaza’s white fence. The people being checked say the Shabak conducts the inspection. It looks like there’s a special operation today to check documents of people coming from the direction of Nablus. Only young men are in almost all the vehicles. After one car is released, the one following is detained, about three at a time.
When we reached Hamra we understood the reason for the operation. Today there’s a Palestinian police conference in Jericho that will last ten days, part of the “cooperation” between Israeli and Palestinian security services, or Israeli retaliation for Palestinian Authority policies. Anyway, the detainees didn’t appear concerned by the delay.
In one car, which apparently didn’t contain police officers, was a Palestinian who’d come from Jordan after having lived there four years. He didn’t have an ID, which apparently had been taken from him, only a photocopy of it. He also was allowed through.
Again we ran into the man accused by the Palestinian police of collaborating with the Shabak. His brother was shot and killed by Palestinian police officers, and he also has been arrested a number of times, interrogated and tortured. He fears for his life; he doesn’t know who could help him.
The fields between Ma’aleh Efrayim and Mechora, near the abandoned packing house, are starting to be cultivated again, after we were told last month that all the fields that had been cultivated by Eyal Levy had been abandoned.
Hamra checkpoint – 12:35
Light traffic. People coming through the checkpoint complain of inspections that are too rigorous.
Vehicles coming from the Jordan Valley to the West Bank aren’t inspected. On the other hand, everyone travelling from the West Bank to the Jordan Valley is carefully checked. Every bag goes through the scanner.
Police officers are crossing here also on their way to the Jericho conference.
Tayasir checkpoint – 14:30
Children from the encampments on the other side of the checkpoint, who attend school in Tubas, have kilometers to walk. A few got rides. The unit serving at the checkpoint has been replaced by soldiers from the Kfir brigade. They welcome us.
Light traffic, no lines.
There’s a group of soldiers and about 20 pup-tents in the wadi next to the road from the Tayasir checkpoint to Hamam el Maliah, as well as larger tents and an army truck.
Gochia checkpoint – Closed, as usual, at the time it’s supposed to be open. We called Zaharan, from the DCO, who said that he himself made sure it would be open, though he couldn’t come today.
An army vehicle arrived at 15:30. The stopped to see whether we were alright (we’d forgotten our flags today, so they couldn’t identify who we were). They told us they belonged to a unit at the Tayasir base responsible for opening the gate; since they arrived, they come to the gate each morning at 08:30, and if someone crosses they also come in the afternoon to open it. No one crossed today, so they didn’t come to open it at 15:00. This sounds like a reasonable arrangement; the question is, whether they’ll stick to it.
Ma’aleh Efrayim checkpoint – 15:20 Soldiers on site inspect vehicles entering the Jordan Valley.
Za’tara–Tapuach junction – 16:35 Two Border Police soldiers, no inspections.
Translator: Charles K.
All the congestion is in the parking lot on the Israeli side; there are no laborers on the Palestinian side. More and more cars arrive to park there.
All the crossings are open and quiet, children peacefully walk to school along the road. A military vehicle watches the entrance to Bani Na’im.
Soldiers from the Kfir battalion have come to do guard duty in the city. There are more of them at all the positions than we’ve been used to. Two of the international volunteers at the beginning of Shuhadah Street tell us that they’re not carrying out inspections very strictly.
They are, in fact, letting the children and teachers through quickly at the Pharmacy and the Tarpa”t checkpoints.
TIP soldiers stand by the checkpoints in triplet formation, their cars parked along the street.
One soldier at the post opposite Beit Hadassah carefully pats down every young man coming by; meanwhile, his colleagues check ID’s with the Civil Administration. We stop to talk with the soldiers, and Anat Cohen quickly arrives, orders the soldiers to send us packing – and spews pearls at us.
The police armored vehicle arrives to find out who we are and tells us we’re not allowed to stand here because it’s a military position. It turns out that what he means is that the entire street is a military position; he actually chases us away and follows us down to the market. Anat, of course, is allowed to enter a military position. All of the residents of Beit Aharonson come out to their cars just as we pass by, and shower curses at us, telling us “get out of here.” It feels as if the extremism is only growing more pointed.
So we got out of there, sensing the violence accompanying the bitter cold we felt everywhere in the City of the Patriarchs.
We drove back via Zif junction, Ma’on and Carmel – it was peacefully quiet and green.