Identification Cards (ID)
A mitzvah mission, Susia
Observers: Hagit B., Michal Z. (reporting)
Translator: Charles K.
We had two tasks today, to provide a little bit of help to people whose rights and whose ability to run their own lives have been erased by the occupation. We first drove to Shuyukh to meet a man who was jailed for being in Israel illegally.
When he was released he was sent home without his belongings, his ID or his cellphone. He was without them for an entire year and couldn’t do anything because he’s been blacklisted for two years. He contacted Chaya and Sylvia, our colleagues, only recently. They asked us to help him because he’d been in the Oholei Keidar prison in Beersheva.
So we obtained a power of attorney from his lawyer in order to be able to ask at the prison whether they were holding his belongings, or had transferred them elsewhere. When they found out what we wanted they said, “It’s complicated; it will take a long time to find them…”, etc., etc. Another phone call, another discussion with prison staff and…the missing items were found: “Come get them.” We made an appointment and the parcel awaited us. Tomorrow we’ll finally give the man his ID card and his belongings.
The entire business occurs because the prison staff or those who escort prisoners to court don’t take the prisoners’ personal belongings with them; they’re left behind. If someone is released after the trial, he’s sent home without his belongings. People whose freedom of movement is limited and who are prohibited from entering Israel are sent away with no identification documents and without a valuable cellphone, and are left helpless before the terrifying apparatus of occupation.
Who would dare behave that way toward a Jew?
A naïve question for the Prison Service: how hard would it be for prison staff escorting prisoners to court to bring their few, but very valuable, belongings with them, and return them to someone who’s released? Would it be possible to treat people more humanely? “Even though they’re only Arabs.” [Although we did see what those who released the sick man from Gaza and abandoned him to die were capable of. But I won’t stop asking.]
We then continued to Susiya in order to give M. money he needs for his legal struggle. The funds collected from our colleagues might be of some help.
There’s so much evil in this story. The “chosen people” displays such great insensitivity; it crowns the hilltops with settlements and erases the lives of its neighbors without any pangs of conscience. No one feels even “a slight bump to the wing.”
Translation: Bracha B.A.
06:10 – A'anin Checkpoint
It is bitterly cold. The front headlights of the "hummer" shine in the darkness. People cross through the checkpoint after having their documents checked like in a movie. Some are sent back because their permits are no longer valid. A soldier is standing in the middle of the checkpoint looking around with his weapon drawn. Two young men are standing next to him in the cold and waiting, but it is not clear why.
By 06:30 about 20 people and several tractors had crossed the checkpoint. There are now six detainees standing next to the soldier. The Bedouin school children climb up from the wadi and change their boots for gray shoes. After a few minutes Yusuf comes and picks them up to take them to school.
Just before the checkpoint closes the soldiers call the six detainees. A soldier holds their ID cards and calls them one by one, returns their ID cards, and sends them home to A'anin. One of the young people begins to argue with the soldier, but each time he attempts to argue the soldier responds with, "Get out of here." The entire scene is filled with arrogance and power of one person over another.התנשאות
We left at 06:40.
Shaked-Tura Checkpoint, 07:00
About 20 people were standing next to the turnstile on the West Bank side and were crossing without delay.
Yusuf arrives with his car but without the children. He and his car are both checked and leaves for the West Bank. A few minutes later the young school children run up to the checkpoint with the older children holding their hands. We are on the way to the next checkpoint.
07:30 – Reihan Barta'a Checkpoint
At the entrance to the checkpoint we are stopped and have to wait until the director arrives. He repeats the claim that someone [from Machsom Watch] recorded the checkpoint staff during an argument. We volunteer to be checked in the terminal as the Palestinians are checked without clarifying the basis for this claim.
People are going through the sleeve without any delay and many are coming back from night shifts at work. There are a lot of cars belonging to Israeli Arabs waiting to be checked, and the drivers and passengers wait alongside the cars. Trucks loaded with vegetables and bleating sheep are waiting alongside the road. .
We left at 08:00.
Four trucks waited for inspection prior to entering the Seam Line zone. At 10:30 they entered the inspection area. At the Palestinian car park many drivers waited for passengers.
Workers and merchants from Barta'a have arrived, as usual with the required permits. They entered the terminal and went through all but one, a resident of Zebeida, in the West Bank, whose origins are from East Barta'a, in the Seam Line zone. He came with his six-year-old son. The man holds a valid work permit in the Seam Line zone and his son is registered on his I.D. He and his son wanted to visit his mother, the grandmother, who lives in East Barta'a. He was not allowed to cross with his son.
We were unable to get hold of Sharon the checkpoint manager, and instead we called the Salem DCO, where we were given a telephone number for public appeals at Beth-El. The answer given to us there was that the man has a work permit that does not include his son, and for a visit he needs to apply for a special permit.
There were talk about children's kidnapping etc. The man and his son returned home to Zbeida.
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
Translation: Bracha B.A.
On the slopes of the hill where the settlement of Tomer is situated we saw a long barbed-wire fence running parallel and to the south of the road. Could it have been there and we had never noticed it before?
A minibus is parked at the tent encampment (beneath the settlement of Maskiot south of the junction leading to Tayasir). There is a group of tourists, ad Palestinian guide, and a man and woman from the tent encampment. We went to see what was going on and found a group of tourists from France. The guide told us that he was from Nablus and lived in France. There was also a "local" with them – a young Irish man who lives in the Jiftlik and is an activist in the Jordan Valley Solidarity movement. They were interested in what we were doing. We learned that the school was not operating since the teachers had not received their salaries from the Palestinian Authority for the past six months. We asked if there had been any exceptional incidents in the area by the army or the settlers. A young man who lives in the tent campground told us that the army had placed mines in the area during the last month. We didn't understand where, and were told that this had happened in the past few weeks.
Hamra Checkpoint, 12:30
There are many cars going west. People are crossing quickly and there are also workers and students crossing westward without being checked. Most of them are turning north towards the tent campground above the checkpoint. A car with a yellow license plate arrived from the west, did not pass the inspection point, and turned back.
At 13:00 a car arrives, bringing lunch. It is joined by a car with detainees and another jeep. The soldiers are busy distributing food. A line with five cars forms east of the checkpoint. One of the drivers understood that he was supposed to drive up to the checkpoint, arrived at the junction, and was immediately sent back. (Why?) Someone gets out and tells us that there are a lot of people waiting to be checked at the checkpoint. A private car is waiting near the checkpoint on the road and is not being allowed to pass. A traffic jam forms. The driver's brother also has a car but starts to walk across and stands next to us. After about 10 minutes the soldiers permit the car to drive to the traffic island and allow the other cars to pass. The passengers in the cars waiting next to us began to talk to us and talk about themselves. From our telephone conversation with the driver who was being detained we learned that his driver's license, car keys, and ID card. The brothers are both teachers from Jenin. They wanted to get to Jericho and then to Amman. Presumably the car does not have a permit to pass the Hamra Checkpoint. Instead of telling them to go back, they [the soldiers] took their keys and ID cards, and threatened to call the police... We telephoned for help and Danny and the Liaison and Coordination Administration said they would deal with the matter. We exchanged telephone numbers and left. The checkpoint was almost empty by that time. We left at 13:50. We continued to call every 15 minutes and heard that the car was meticulously checked. They were allowed to cross at 16:00 and at the time of our last phone call at 17:00 they were on their way to Jericho.
Army tents are already visible on the hill where we saw army equipment and soldiers earlier. We can already see the new road beneath the houses on the ridge at the settlement of Maskiot.
We did not drive to Tayasir because we had other commitments. We passed through the Bezek Checkpoint at 14:10.
Translation: Ruth Fleishman
Seven year old Haled, layered with winter clothes, was trying to pitch a sale, "you can play with the ball at the beach", explained Fadi.
- Haled's family transferred from Hebron to the town of Ar-Ram, what could he possibly know about the beach?
- Fadi's parents were exiled from Beit She'an in 1948, his home is in Jenin but he has to rent an apartment in Qalandiya refugee camp so as to provide for his family by selling fruit from his mobile cart, what could he possibly know about the beach?
- What could the thousands of Palestinians that pass them by possibly know about the beach?
"Bas Khadra"(= green only) said the soldier sitting in the bullet proofed post to a young Palestinian woman who handed her ID to him.
The women understood, she left the inspection area, headed towards a different lane and stood at the end of a crowded line.
In the language of the checkpoint, which is understood by the occupiers and those who are occupied, the meaning of the order is: "from this moment on the regulations have changed, only residents of Palestine are inspected here, and you, who have the ID of a resident of Jerusalem, must go to another inspection post".
An escalation in the service provided to settlers by the checkpoints
So far, ever since checkpoint came into existence, the explanation given as to the existence of the checkpoint was the need to prevent Israelis, Jewish ones in this case, from reaching Qalandiya which is considered to be a place where their lives might be endangered. For that reason the soldiers at the checkpoint stop the vehicles heading in that direction and require as to the national identity of the driver.
During the past weeks there has been an increase in the amount of complaints made by cab drivers, regarding the imposition of this checkpoint on Palestinians driving in the opposite direction which leads to road 60.
The checkpoint commander with whom we conversed confirmed the facts and told us that every morning between 6:00 and 7:30 the police block the lanes leading from Qalandiya and thoroughly inspect the state of the vehicles and the drivers' licenses. As a result long lines of Palestinian vehicles that stretch on are formed and the traffic heading to road 60 is but a drizzle and the amount of (Palestinian) vehicles on road 60 decreases substantially during rush hours and even the pressure on Hizme checkpoint isn't as it once was.
The main beneficiaries of this are the settlers driving to Jerusalem in the morning as well as the state's treasury which is enriched by the plentiful amount of tickets given- according to the testimony of the Palestinian cab drivers and the checkpoint commander.
Those who suffer the most from this are of course the Palestinians hurrying to their jobs, but who takes them under consideration?
13:20 Bezeq CP– We went through, passed the Palestinian worker who cleans the environs of the CP.It is hot!!!! Dry!!!
The children from El Pharsiya get out of the minibus running to their encampment.
13:40 Hamra CP
A giant shoveldozer is parked in the middle of the central path. Eight cars are waiting to go through – cars with workers returning from a day's work, including two midibuses and a minibus. A few (more than usual) wave to us happily from the window. Within five minutes, while we are still advancing toward the open space of the CP, all the cars go through and are on their way. A soldier (on whose cap there is the slogan 'God is 1') and a woman soldier from the military police both in full bulletproof dress came up to us to ask if we need any help and to suggest that we drink a lot of water. (It was indeed very hot and the sun's rays are pitiless.) Those emerging from the terminal with their belts in hand are all smiling and look happy. One of them invites to join them. The atmosphere in the CP is calm, by contrast with the frightening threats publicized in the media (THEY WILL BUTCHER US!) quoted to us by one of the commanders last week. After ten minutes there is again a queue of waiting cars and this queue also is overcome shortly. A driver of a minibus who is very upset stops. The passengers – young people who work in the date groves of the Jiftlik (one a student of administration), who seemed to be in a very good mood – tried to explain what happened. It turned out that there were two people with them who were not allowed to go through. One with an ID who looks younger than his age, and the second, about 15 years old who does not have an ID but looks older. After about five minutes the father of the younger one (who looks older) arrived and freed his son. Then the older one (who looks younger) also came out; all of them tightened their belts and continued on their way. And then (14:10) we saw a queue of 15 waiting cars and a dozen workers walking on the road in the direction of the CP; then they went through. A midibus with workers went north.
14:20 – all of them went through and we left.
The Alon Road is 'out of breath' in the heat of the day. The embankment and the two gates are still there.
14:45 Tyasir CP
There are barbs all along the road between the two traffic islands on the road.
The midibus that went north from the Hamra junction arrives at this CP. They give him a sign to approach; stop, and then all the passengers get out. We were happy to see that they were not lined up, but were let go immediately. The soldier in the post on the road thrusts a bottle of water tthrough the front window of the minibus and receives it from the tail end. This happened twice and then the bottle was apparently empty. We went up to the upper post and were not rebuked. Traffic is thin ( it seems that we spent the rush hour at the Hamra CP).
15:15 We left
15:30 Bezeq CP – we went through.
Translator: Charles K.
Summary: As September 20 approaches, the Jordan Valley prepares for war!!! Thousands of soldiers, tanks, firing positions. Primarily near the checkpoints. Does Israel intend to fire from tanks on the people it thinks will try to come through the checkpoints? What, exactly, is Israel planning? And that’s in addition to false arrests, not opening the Gochia checkpoint and destroying wells in Area A.
13:30 Shomron gate
A bus carrying some 30 Palestinians, apparently people who stayed illegally in Israel and were caught, and are now being released back to the West Bank. Since this is an apartheid road, there’s no Palestinian traffic on it so they can’t hitch a ride. They begin walking east about 7 kilometers on the side of the highway, to the nearest locality, in danger from the speeding traffic, during the hottest hours of the Palestinian summer. Their only sin is their desire to support their families. Further down the road we saw two more Palestinians trudging along, apparently from an earlier batch.
14:15 Ma’aleh Efraim
Manned, after a long period during which it was unmanned. The internationals told us that two days ago it was also manned. Cars in both directions are carefully inspected – documents and contents.
14:30 Hamra checkpoint
No cars at all, so we didn’t stop. On our way back (at 17:30) there were no cars coming from the Jordan Valley but there were cars from the west which were carefully inspected as they went through. The internationals said (and confirmed what they said by showing us photographs) that the army established a number of sandbagged firing positions on the hill above the checkpoint, facing the West Bank. Probably to confront the army of the elderly and children that will march to the checkpoint. Or not. Palestinians tell me that they’re not making any preparations or organizing to do so. My fear is that even if there are no demonstrations, the very fact of preparations for war will tempt the army to use the force it possesses, and we’re talking about innocent civilians.
We observed from a distance but saw no Palestinians going through. But we couldn’t see whether or not the army jeep arrived. Recently we’ve received reports that the checkpoint hasn’t opened at all. Maybe that’s why the Palestinians have given up and stopped coming. Many soldiers and a tank next to the checkpoint. Preparations for September 20? Isn’t placing a tank where civilians and children cross a provocation? Do they intend to use tanks? Against whom?
More, from the following day – 14.9.11:
A Palestinian told me that the tank stands next to the Gochia checkpoint, which was open all day. He thinks they even dismantled the gate. The rumor spread and Palestinians crossed freely but apprehensively to the West Bank. I assume that the intent is to erect a more massive checkpoint to replace the metal barrier. But the truth is that the size of the gate isn’t important, since the gate stands in the middle of nowhere, and even if they erect a gate that matches the prison in which inhabitants of the Jordan Valley have been trapped, how hard could it be to go around it?
We visited the Salamin family next to the settlement of Beqa’ot, whose sons were arrested a number of times last week (details at the end). While we were there, a Beqa’ot security jeep showed up (driven by a Druze security man), drove around the encampment threateningly, and left, leaving us in the midst of a cloud of dust.
At 15:55, as we were leaving after our visit, the Beqa’ot jeep came toward us near to the settlement’s vineyards. The security person signaled us to stop, asked who we are and what we were doing, but although we identified ourselves, he refused to identify himself and told us that it’s a closed military area and we’re not allowed to be here. We made it clear to him that in the absence of an order from the commanding general this isn’t a closed military area. He warned us not to dare return (we’re not talking about the settlement’s land, but the Palestinians’ grazing lands which, although they’re defined as firing ranges, like the entire Jordan Valley, this particular dirt road isn’t a firing range – because of its proximity to the settlement’s fields). The jeep drove off and to block our route where the dirt path joins the main road. We drove around it and continued to Tayasir. Right after the turn to Tayasir an army jeep showed up, a soldier got out, came over to us and said that the security man from Beqa’ot photographed my car’s license plate and called the army. The soldier said we weren’t permitted to be in the area of Salamin because it’s a closed military area. We asked him to show us the order, which doesn’t exist, of course, so we informed him that we’ll continue to go there because it’s not a closed military area, and drove off.
16:15 – Tayasir checkpoint
Seven cars in line. The checkpoint is closed. People waiting say they’ve been there half an hour. They waited ten more minutes after we arrived until the checkpoint opened. We saw that there had been a change of shifts, but does the checkpoint have to close for that, and for how long?
After the checkpoint opened, cars coming from the West Bank were inspected – documents and contents. Pedestrians were carefully checked and came angrily through the checkpoint (because of the long wait, I assume). The documents of passengers in the cars crossing from the Jordan Valley to the West Bank were inspected, and the lines continued.
An old man and his wife reached the soldiers’ position without having been summoned to advance. He was punished and sent all the way back to wait at the imaginary line –“The Palestinians know where it is.” He waited five minutes before being called forward to be inspected, where they told him to get out of the car, but he had difficulty getting out. It turned out that he’s not only old, but also handicapped. That didn’t particularly bother the soldiers, who made him open the trunk. The old man tottered over with difficulty and did what they asked, but it wasn’t enough – now open the hood. The old man did it with great effort. Finally they made him bring the documents from the car, which seems to have been the only other thing they could think of, and despite their boredom they allowed him to continue. When we left at 16:55 there were four cars on line from the west and four from the east.
Addition to the report regarding the arrest of three members of the Salamin family
All we could understand from talking to one of the others (the brother who got lost doesn’t remember the incident) is that the army left him on the road and he was ultimately picked up by the Palestinian police who’d found him at two in the morning. He’d wandered, confused, for 18 hours, aimlessly, not knowing where he was – he’d forgotten everything. Eyewitnesses saw him in the afternoon near Zbeidat, on Route 90 and near Ain al Bidan, near Nablus (where he was finally picked up by the Palestinian police).
On Thursday, 8.9.11, one of the brothers (Udai) was arrested again, this time together with his 14-year-old nephew, next to his home, accused of bypassing the Gochia checkpoint without a permit. When he asked why he’d bypass the gate, since he lives to its east, which is where he is, there was no answer. The soldiers handcuffed him and blindfolded him with a strip of flannel cloth used for cleaning weapons. He was detained for four hours at the Hamra checkpoint while we tried to get the DCO officers, who’d come for that reason to the Hamra checkpoint, to do something about it. The two youths were released at the Hamra checkpoint; it took them another hour and a half to get home, without money, without documents, at a location without public transportation and almost no Palestinian traffic.
On Friday, 9.9.11, Udai was arrested again, this time together with another shepherd, Razi, from the Abu Sakar family. They were handcuffed, beaten severely and blindfolded. The reason – they hadn’t any identification. One of them said he’d run home (200 meters away) to bring the documents, but the soldiers refused to relinquish their prey. They were released two hours later, after the DCO intervened.
Destruction of wells in Nasariyya – report by the internationals
In Nasariyya, in Area B, the army destroyed three large wells, after having destroyed wells in the area last week as well. Nasariyya is located on the road between the Hamra checkpoint and Nablus, west of the checkpoint.
Translator: Charles K.
15:30 We drove on Route 443 to Giv’at Ze’ev.
The checkpoint begins operating when the laborers return from work, on foot or transported by the contractor. They’re not checked when they return. We saw only a few vehicles with diplomatic license plates going in the other direction, and a donkey and rider going through the vehicle lane (see photo on the left).
Bitunya checkpoint is blocked by concrete cubes.
All the villages to the left and right of Route 443 are closed off by iron gates. That’s nothing new, but it’s important to keep mentioning it.
We took route 446 across the Green Line, into the unknown. Lapid and Modi’in Illit.
Route 463 leads to Na’aleh, Nili, Neria and other places. We continued part of the way on the road connecting 443 to Route 60, to Talmon, Dolev and Halamish, returning toward Modi’in Illit.
16:40 Hashmona’im checkpoint, adjoining the entrance to Na’alin, now stands to the glory of the state of Israel. The road is wide and new, various structures along its western edge.
We drove into Modi’in Illit, drove through the “city” to its northern boundary and then via a dirt road arrived back at the checkpoint. Please meet the Kharbata checkpoint (according to the guards). This checkpoint (see photo) is an example of the symbiosis between the military and the civil, and the system it creates. It’s not visible from anywhere. A little inspection building operated by two civilian security personnel, employed by a security company hired by the Modi’in Illit municipality. Each has a 4x4 vehicle.
An army checkpoint some 10-15 meters past them, an army vehicle and three soldiers standing at the entrance of the fence around the entire area, which isn’t “Israel”! At this hour, laborers are returning from work. They enter the inspection building, get their IDs and pass by the soldiers on their way home, without any additional inspection. The atmosphere is pleasant and friendly, everyone’s demonstratively “buddy-buddy.” For our benefit they ask, “Ana mabsut?” [“Everything OK?”]
Here’s how it works:
Open in the morning between 05:00-07:00.
Laborers arrive from the whole area, are checked by the soldiers – of course, only those with work permits cross.
They leave their IDs in the inspection building that belongs to the Modi’in Illit municipality, in a cupboard with cubbyholes (see photo to the left).
The inspection building is open between 15:00-17:00 in the afternoon, and again beween 19:00-19:15.
And if somebody is late? “He’s got a number to call, and we’ll come open it.”
And, in fact, at 17:00 inspections stop. The last laborer comes running and goes through the army position without picking up his ID. And right at this hour the soldiers get in their vehicle and drive away.
That’s it – the area is closed.
The explanation we received lays out the system under which Palestinians are employed in the settlements. Each settlement has its own laborers, who hand their IDs to the security coordinator when they come to work. Since Modi’in Illit is a large city/locality/ settlement, its security company fulfills the role of security coordinator. It collects the IDs and makes sure that whoever enters also leaves.
06:00 A'anin checkpoint
At the olive groves on the way to the checkpoint (in the Seam Line zone) there are many cows enjoying their early breakfast and the cool air. The owners of the lots, from A'anin, are helpless in face of the accumulated damage to the trees, and are afraid of the owner's revenge.
Maayan Sahala (Israel) complained at the DCO and at the police but to no avail.
Many youngsters cross the checkpoint as well as many tractors, which undergo a thorough inspectiono.
One person, who, in one soldier's opinion, wanted to bring accross too many sabres (prickly pear), had to return one bag !!
07:10 Shaked-Tura checkpoint
At 7:20 the first worker crosses over.
Two cars drive through following inspection.
A drama unfolds right before our eyes. Apparently somebody tried to pass through using his brother's permit. Another brother, who had crossed over before him, tries helping but it doesn't work out. In that family there are five boys and only two permits which they use as needed. The soldiers summoned the police. Investigation could be harmful for the family. We are helpless and sad.
08:00 Reihan-Barta'a checkpoint
We meet a new driver, unfamiliar to us, who speaks good Hebrew. He reminisces over better days when he was able to go freely wherever he wished. Now he struggles to provide for his family. He is 49 years old and is denied passage for security reasons.
He longs for piece between the two nations.