Translator: Charles K.
Two tales of evil and indifference.
06:05 A’anin checkpoint
Residents of A’anin came through the checkpoint at a steady but slow rate. The soldiers behaved “correctly,” but carefully inspected every little, crumpled sack. “They don’t let you cross if you have too much food,” says one, adding proudly: “I’m an Arab; I like to eat a lot of bread!” But a lot of bread is suspicious, festive clothing is evidence of hidden motives, and a cell phone charger in the pocket must be preparation for a terror attack. You really have to see how the locals deal with the soldiers’ increasing vigilance, their growing mistrust.
Evil: M. exits. He doesn’t ask this time whether we’ve brought clothing for him. Last week they made trouble for him when he returned in the afternoon to the village with bargains he’d found or bought for pennies in the seam zone, including clothing he said he’d received from Machsom Watch women. Last Monday (May 6), his crossing permit was confiscated as punishment for his vain, repeated attempts to bring in a TV he’d bought for NIS 30 and sacks of clothes. They took the permit and ordered him to go to the Salem DCO to obtain a new one. The following day, Tuesday, M. went to the Salem DCO, waited fruitlessly in the corridor for five hours; then they said, “Now go home and come back Sunday to arrange for the permit.” P., the Salem DCO officer, explained me that they did so to teach M. a lesson so that he’d think twice before trying to bring items through an agricultural crossing "that are not permitted there, in agricultural barrier". Chana helped us to transmit an immediate, sharp verbal complaint to Civil Administration officials who intervened and ordered the DCO to return M.’s permit right away. A day latter, Thursday, M. went and obtained the precious permit without delay.
06:40 Barta’a-Reihan checkpoint
We drive here on fine, broad roads built by the occupiers, and they’re completely empty.
15 commercial vehicles loaded with fruits and vegetables waited for inspection. Laborers walked up through the fenced corridor and exited to the seam zone.
06:50 Dothan-Yabed checkpoint
The roadblock on the road through the olive grove to Yabed has been removed; pupils from Amrikha and the surrounding area walked to school. The checkpoint is manned; cars go through in both directions with barely an inspection. On the other hand, they picked an official Palestinian Authority pickup truck for a careful inspection. A ragged, dirty Israeli flag flaps in the wind.
07:10 Tura-Shaked checkpoint
Where’s the money, asked Yair Lapid (Minister of Finance, not long ago quite naïve journalist), So here is part of the answer: It’s spread around the ugly little Tura checkpoint that’s bursting with a dizzying abundance of lanes and passages arranged like a stockade. They’re all completely unnecessary and the reason for them is obvious: corruption. On days that the soldiers forget to bring the keys to all the checkpoint’s locks and the computer isn’t working pedestrians and cars go through the checkpoint without any special inspection, crossing is quick and efficient and everyone’s happy – maybe even the soldiers.
A ragged Israeli flag flaps here as well.
Indifference: S. lives in Tura. He has five daughters and one son. When the son was 12 ½ years old he threw rocks near the checkpoint, was jailed for two months and received a suspended sentence for a certain period which elapsed. Twelve years passed, the boy is today a married man and he recently had a son who was named for the proud grandfather. He’s been blacklisted by the Shabak since that time and isn’t able to cross to the seam zone. Attempts to remove the Shabak’s black mark have been unsuccessful. The separation fence cut the family’s lands in two; they’re located near the checkpoint, but on the wrong side. S. is getting old and needs his only son’s help in the farm work. But who cares.
Translated by Dvora K.
06:15 - 07:15 A'anin
The people going through are encountering soldiers who are, in their words, 'not nice [not OK]'. A woman wanted to go through with her 3-years-old daughter. She was allowed to go through by herself. The child remained behind. WHY?
A young man who wanted to return to A'anin, was refused. He should come back at 1500. Why not now? Because in the morning you are supposed to leave and you are supposed to return in the afternoon. Things must be done in an orderly manner.
Somebody calls me. They are not allowing him to go through even though he has a valid permit. Why? There are reasons. The woman soldier at the DCO tries to help, but does not succeed. Apparently the agricultural permits are no longer valid.
Many people are present. The passage is quite slow. Vehicles are going through to the West Bank.
A man from Umm-el-Reihan and myself agreed that we, Palestinians and Israelis, are all the same; we all want the same things - to work and to live in peace. But there are others for whom this is not suitable. This man speaks Hebrew well. It was great to talk to him.
Most of the people have gone through: children, teachers. A young fellow with a donkey and a wagon is trying to transport some packages. A happy dog accompanies them. A herd of goats goes through all together and part from one another close to the fence. Birds are singing. A pastoral picture.
On the radio you can hear thundering voices. I only understand the word 'Hizballah' - I hear Israel, Hizballah, Israel, Hizballah over and over again.
07:55-08:15 Barta'a - Reihan
There are so many cars in the parking lot that it is hard to maneuver one's way even on foot. The passage is full of people. Ten pickup trucks are waiting for inspection. I give a ride to two parents and a 4-year-old who has been undergoing orthopedic operations at Rambam since he was born. A sweet child. He smiles at me.
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.
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.
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.
Translator: Charles K.
06:10 A’anin agricultural checkpoint
The checkpoint is open; inspections are conducted in the center of the checkpoint (far from us). We’re told that about 50 people are waiting. A new detachment of soldiers works very slowly until 06:45 and then speeds up. People complain that the soldiers are being picky about clothing – those who, in their opinion, are dressed too well, too neatly, “inappropriately” for farm work – aren’t allowed through. Each time there’s a renewed argument with someone else about the fact that the occupying power permits them to reach their lands, which are trapped behind the separation fence, only twice a week; we hear their voices. One says: “I want to walk (through my olive grove) – I’m forbidden?” And adds, provocatively: “Are you too forbidden from just wandering around?”
The red-headed tractor driver wants to see his son, who lives in Umm Reihan, to bring clothes and food to his grandchildren, but he isn’t allowed to take them through. Only after arguing for a few minutes, during which the checkpoint stops operating, the soldiers change their minds and allow him through with the “equipment.”
06:50 We left; 20 people still wait to cross.
07:00 Tura-Shaked checkpoint
We arrive at the checkpoint together with the soldiers. The teachers and pupils from the Tura elementary school are already waiting to cross. The fenced corridor is closed and locked; ten minutes later a soldier comes to open it. More than 20 people wait at the revolving gate on the West Bank side. The wait is relatively long.
07:30 Barta’a-Reihan checkpoint
A long line of private cars and taxis waits to cross to the West Bank. The procedure requires that while documents are being inspected the passengers get out and wait at the booth on the road.
Two trucks loaded with merchandise wait on the road too.
The checkpoint parking lot is full of parked cars. On the other hand, there are few taxis (private taxis, not authorized ones). Drivers of those taxis earn most of their money in the afternoon and evening when residents of the West Bank return home. Towards 08:00 the flow of people arriving at the checkpoint increases; they’re all on their way to work in the seam zone, primarily in eastern Barta’a. People cross quickly, without delays both here and in the upper fenced corridor.
Naomi Gal translation
06:05 'Anin Checkpoint
The first ones are leaving on their way from the village to their farming plots in the Seam Zone.
We meet Bilal, who has replaces Wahal, the DCO representative. He indicates a willingness to hear and help so we briefly raise three problems we regularly encounter in this checkpoint, he listens willingly: difficulties in transferring children 12-16 years old with one of their parents; the checking of clothes and personal belongings beyond the requirements of security; providing permits to other family members.
6:15 - about 50 people are waiting to cross. They are being checked at the center of the checkpoint. The checking is fast. Fathers with children are crossing, many relatively.
The dirt mound in the checkpoint area was removed. What next? A National Park glorifying the State of Israel?
A young man tells about his friend whose permit was taken away by the police in the Seam Zone.
06:45No more people waiting, the checkpoint closes.
7:00 Shaked-Turah Checkpoint
The checkpoint is open, but the booth for checking people is not active yet and people on both sides are waiting to cross from one side to the other. A horse and a carriage with children are crossing from the lone house towards the West Bank. School children get off the pickup truck and run to the checkpoint. After their driver is checked and gets permission to proceed, he gathers them and they continue toward Turah. His car radio is playing loud hymns. We asked why he did not turn the radio off and were told it is forbidden to turn off hymns.
7:15 the booth is opened for checking and within minutes the first ones start leaving toward the Seam Zone. The first car crosses toward the West Bank.
07:30 Reihan-Barta'a Checkpoint
At the bus station in the middle of the checkpoint an armed soldier boards the bus, which then continues east to Mevo Dotan.
Many people are crossing at this time; most of them probably work at Barta'a and at Shahak industrial area. The drivers are saying that the blockage at the side entrance to Ya'bad has been removed after it was agreed that the children would stop throwing stones at the road.
7-8 small and large trucks are waiting for checking and crossing permits. The drivers pass the time sipping coffee. The first driver in line tells us that he's parked his car here last night. The crossing of commercial vehicles started at 05:30. A private car bypasses the waiting vehicles, enters the booth for permit checking and continues on its way. Within fifteen minutes the truck drivers are summoned to the center of the checkpoint for document verification before they proceed to the checking of their cars.
One of them tells us about a relative of his who has stayed to work in Israel although his permit had expired. The police was on his trail and he tried to escape, jumped over a wall or a fence and broke a leg. Now he is in RambamHospital, two weeks already. His wife, his elderly mother and ten children remain at home without a breadwinner.
8:15 we left
The Military Police dictates fashion rules to the Palestinian Farmers
05:55 A'anin CP
At this CP, Palestinian farmers from the village of A'anin (on the West Bank), holding permits for agricultural work in the seamline zone (that is to say, for working on their own lands which are separated from the village by the fence), go through, as well as others who have permits to work in the seamline zone.
The gates are open. The first person goes through. Inspection is done near the middle gate. We approach and are courteously banished. The passage is very slow. A few are not allowed to go through. Two of those going through tell us that some people were returned to the village because they did not have a valid permit. and others were turned back because their clothes were too new and too nice(!) - not suitable for agricultural work, according to the soldiers.
One of the people going through offers us coffee that he pours from his thermos.
A father is not allowed to take his 12-year-old son with him. The military policewoman says that heis not his son, and the proof is that the father does not know his son's I.D. number by heart! The man has eight small children, all listed in his identification card, and unfortunetaly he can't remember all those numbers.
We call the DCO (the civil administration that manages the Palestinians' lives) in connection with the limitations on Palestinian men's fashions; The DCO advises us to ask at the brigade. In the brigade they say that it is a matter for the military police and they will ask about it there.
In regard to the father's short memory, not remembering his sons' I.D. numbers, the DCO tells us that it is possible to demand that the father remember his children's names, but not their I.Dsnumbers. The father left on his way quickly and did not wait for our information. He sent his son back to the village immediately.
The Bedoui children come up to the CP from their encampment and wait for a ride to school. We leave before the passage of A'anin residents ends.
07:05 Tura-Shaked CP
School children, students and adults are going through from the seamline zone (the area imprisoned between the separation fence and the green line, Area C) to the West Bank. Many are waiting near the turnstile at the entrance to the inspection hut. Here, too, the passage is slow. One person tells us that he does not feel well; he told this to a military policewoman and she told him to bring a note from a doctor. In the end, she gave in and let him go through without stopping in the inspection hut and she also was willing to give up on the doctor's note (the nearest doctor is in Jenin....).
07:50 Palestinian side of the Reihan-Barta'a CP
We do not want to get stuck in the big parking lot, the one close to the CP, because it is full and bursting at the seams. We park in a private lot (usually for a fee) which is about half a kilometer further on as the road rises, and we are given the privilege of parking without paying.
On our way from the parking lot to the CP we pass eight trucks waiting for inspection. The drivers share breakfast on the open door in the back of one of the trucks. They invite us to have pita with humus and beans and a cucumber. We learn from them that inspection of the trucks begins at 08:00 and that two groups of trucks are already being inspected. They have been waiting for two and a half hours. Drivers of the first group who have already entered parked their vehicles here at night.
08:20 We climb up to the parking lot. A bus with schoolgirls from East Barta'a passes the CP and turns into the upper parking lot. The schoolgirls remain in the bus, eating and playing their darboukas (Arab drums). The driver tells us that the girls are on their way to Tul-Karem and they are waiting for an additional bus, which has not received a permit to go through yet.
08:35 The second bus goes through and we go home.
On our way home, we pick up a hitchhiker near Katzir. It turns out that he lives in one of the 'privately-owned farms in Shaked. We did not know such a thing existed. As we drive, Yoaz Hendel speaks on the radio about the implementation of a new right-wing organization which will monitor human rights at the CPs, or as he puts it, under the auspices of Zionist citizens of the state. This, of course, reminds us that on the Left, there are no Zionists.
A fantastic ending to a morning in the occupation.
Translation: Yael Bassis-Student
06:15 – 07:00 A'aneen checkpoint
At the exit I meet scores of people. A morning full of surprises. People smile, appear happy,saying "Soldiers are ok," which means that they let people through without delays. Many youngsters. I also smile. What else does a human being need? It is so easy to please those who encounter difficulties. All they need is perhaps a completedismantling of the fence and all would be perfect.
By 07:00 all have gone through (the soldiers were truly efficient today).
07:15 – 07:30 Tura-Shaked checkpoint
Cars wait to cross over into the West Bank, among them an old beaten-up Fiat (a collector's car owned by the teacher from Um el Rihan). Students and pupils have gone through. Lively traffic in both directions. Everything is conducted as usual.
07:40 I drive in the direction of Ya'abed-Dotan checkpoint because we've heard of complaints that the side roads leading to Ya'abed are blocked. And in fact this is true. Whoever comes to Ya'abed needs to make a long detour in order to get to the main entrance to the village.
08:30 Rihan checkpoint
I pick up Ali with his mother and another person whose daughter undergoes dialysis and apparently would need a kidney transplant. We go to Rambam hospital in Haifa, not before my passengers' papers are inspected.