Translation: Dvora K.
15.00 A'anin CP
People from the village of A'anin arrive and go through immediately to the seamline zone, on foot and by tractor. One of the tractor drivers tells us that 120 permits have been issued last week. His permit will expire on March 22. He has already submitted a request for renewal to the Palestinian DCO, but there he was told that they do not know when the Israeli DCO will take care of it. This man has an olive grove of 120 dunam between the CP and Umm-Reihan and from past experience he already fears that the permit renewal will be delayed for two weeks in which he will not be able to go through this CP.
15:40 Shaked-Tura CP
There is very lttle traffic in both directions, as is normal at this hour in this CP.
16:00 Reihan-Barta'a CP, seamline zone side
Few workers arrive at the CP at this time but there is relatively a great deal of traffic of families with children, in both directions.
16:15 The line of workers returning to the West Bank from work in the seamline zone and in Israel is growing. Many carry sacks of oranges. One of the workers offers us two especially delicious oranges. The passage is quick, even the passage of women students and of a few families from the West Bank to the seamline zone does not cause delay. For a minute they close the turnstile and immediately a queue forms. When they open it, the queue disperses. One person tells us that in the morning the passage in Taibe ( the Irtach, Shaar Ephraim CP) is terrible. 'It is worse than for animals', he says. He asks us why we cannot help them there.
16:45 we leave the CP where there is now no queue. People going down the sleeve ask us if the CP 'is good today'. We hope it is and that it will keep on operating 'in an orderly fashion'.
On our way home we pick up a resident of A'anin, who has a permit to work in Israel, and is in a hurry to get to Bank Hapoalim in Umm-el-Fahm. He has a carpentry shop in A'anin and he works there with his brother and his cousin. He is the only one of the three who has a permit to work in Israel and he works for both Arabs and Jews. He looks and sounds satisfied. He leaves his car at the Reihan-Barta'a CP on the Palestinian side. He says that the trip from there to A'anin takes a quarter of an hour. There is no need to go through Jenin; there is a shortcut through Arqua and Yamun.
Translator: Charles K.
06:05 A’anin checkpoint
The checkpoint is open; people go through. Inspections are carried out at the middle gate; records are kept by hand.
An elderly woman tries to cross with her grandson. Her son, the boy’s father, leaves for work through a different checkpoint; the grandmother doesn’t have a crossing permit. The soldiers don’t allow the boy through. Vahel, the DCO representative, answers this time (“I was on vacation”) and immediately promises to help the woman if she’ll call him. The soldiers send back another boy whom they didn’t allow to cross with his mother. We called Vahel again; he looked into it and instructed them to allow the boy to join his mother.
06:20 People carrying bags with a changes of clothes are asked to leave them behind. They say the weather keeps changing and they need to have appropriate clothing. The occupyer suspects their intentions. Nor do the soldiers let people take what appears to them to be “commercial quantities” of cigarettes. Bags with food are carefully inspected to ensure that no items for sale slip through, God forbid.
A young man tells us that his application for an Israeli work permit has been refused repeatedly. His Israeli employer keeps applying to the Civil Administration for a crossing permit, but is refused. He says the Shabak tried to recruit him as a collaborator, but he refused.
07:00 About 30 people have crossed by now, slowly. Twenty more wait.
07:15 Shked-Tura checkpoint
The checkpoint opened a few minutes ago, late again. Four vehicles wait to cross to the West Bank. About 20 people wait to come from the West Bank to the seam zone. The teachers go through upset, as usual, after being inspected inside. One says: Only war will solve the checkpoint problems. He says the soldiers purposely work slowly.
An elderly man tells us that his son, who’s married to a woman living in Barta’a, hasn’t been able to obtain a permit to visit her for years.
08:10 Reihan-Barta’a checkpoint
People from Yabed tell us an additional checkpoint has been set up last week. Soldiers stand at a side road to Yabed; they don’t check documents but they make vehicles wait. The wait can last more than an hour when traffic is heavy in the morning and evening. The road is blocked during the day by a locked iron bar. One laborer on the way to work stops to tell us that on Saturday he tried take his sick wife through there to the hospital in Jenin, but had to wait a long time. Only after he personally explained the situation to the soldier were they allowed out.
This road is closed repeatedly because children from Yabed throw rocks at settlers from Mevo Dothan. The soldiers don’t allow them to take this road on their way to school; they have to go through the fields and groves which may be very muddy.
Ali must go through almost daily to Haifa’s Rambam hospital. Samer, his mother, tells us that yesterday she and Ali left the hospital at 7 PM and when they reached Yabed they were forced to wait for an hour at the side entrance to the locality because the soldiers slowed the crossing.
Translator: Charles K.
A’anin checkpoint, 05:55
[Photo: Misty dawn at the A’anin checkpoint]
The checkpoint is open, residents of A’anin (on the West Bank) are already coming out toward the seam zone with their agricultural or employment permits. Since fewer seem to be coming through (some also were not allowed through; they were sent back), the crossing permits issued for the olive harvest, which has ended, must have expired. And in fact, based on conversations with people and the many appeals to us for help obtaining crossing permits, we get the impression that the occupier is, increasingly, severely limiting the number eligible for permits, particularly farmers who are kept away from their lands – their source of income, their pride, the essence of their tradition and their existence.
The seam zone is the area sliced away from the Palestinian villages by the separation fence that was erected in order to annex the settlements to Area C, under Israeli control. Every plot of land in the seam zone belonging to a West Bank resident entitles the owner and their family members to X crossing permits so they can work it. More permits are granted for large plots than for small ones. Prior to the occupation and the fence, all members of the family could participate in the various farming tasks on the family’s land. Today the occupier (who might – could it be? – covet the land for himself) makes it harder for the farmers to reach their land, whether they’re the land’s legal owner or their heirs (who aren’t the owners), or hired laborers. Suddenly they find their permits aren’t renewed. They are prevented from reaching their lands. Why? They’re not told.
That’s Fadi’s story as well. He’s 34, was born and lives in A’anin, married with three children. His 9 year old son fell from the second storey and received a brain injury. We met Fadi last month at the checkpoint. He said that for more than a year his wife hasn’t been able to obtain a crossing permit, that his permit is due to expire and he fears it won’t be renewed (and it wasn’t). He asked for help. The permits of his father and two brothers (they’re the only four people working the family’s land; the father is the legal owner) aren’t being renewed either. Why? They’re not told. He went to the Palestinian liaison office (irtibat); they told him he’s blacklisted from crossing to the seam zone. Why? They don’t know. He went to the Salem DCO, where he was told he’s blacklisted. Why? They won’t say.
We inquired at the Civil Administration (a military body that runs the lives of Palestinians in the occupied territories), and heard an interesting version: his wife was caught going through the checkpoint with false papers (so it’s a punishment). Fadi swears that never happened. Another interesting version: the quota of permits for his family’s land has been filled. Fadi doesn’t understand. Who could have received permits for his family’s land? Only he, his father and his two brothers apply to cultivate it. No permit had been granted or renewed for any of them. Listen, he tells me on the phone, I can’t keep going to Salem; I can’t afford the taxis. Nor do they tell me why I’m blacklisted. Help me.
Shaked-Tura checkpoint 07:00
[Photo: A section of the pedestrian fenced corridor]
A military ambulance is parked on the Tura (West Bank) side of the checkpoint, alongside a police bomb squad vehicle with all its antennas and devices and accessories. We didn’t understand what was happening. The soldiers were working calmly. People cross as they do every day. Lots of action when the checkpoint opens, but three-quarters of an hour later everything will slow down and the soldiers will start yawning. The checkpoint is fairly small, occupies less than a dunum, but it’s bursting with coiled and straight fences, traffic lights, traffic signs, gates, sheds, concrete barriers, signs, canopies, people sheltering and more and more installations that aren’t really necessary, all crowded together, the evidence of corrupt planning, waste of taxpayers’ money and sheer stupidity - not necessarily in that order - crying out to the heavens.
Reihan-Barta’a checkpoint 07:45
At the checkpoint we picked up two women from the West Bank. One had received a bone marrow transplant and was on her way to Rambam hospital for treatment; the other accompanied her. We went through the truck inspection area. One of the supervisors from the civilian security company running the checkpoint escorted us efficiently and politely.
Translator: Charles K.
The soldiers opened the checkpoint a few minutes early. Six tractors and about 20 people cross without delay with all their belongings of whatever kind. All went through by 15:10. A pleasant sergeant and second lieutenant approach us. They’re pretty new at the checkpoint, have been here about a month, and the second lieutenant has just become an officer. We leave. The janitor, a resident of Tura who makes his living cleaning checkpoints, also leaves. The soldiers must wait until 15:30 in case anyone else comes.
15:25 Shaked-Tura checkpoint
It’s quiet. Very light traffic in both directions. We wonder for whom they built this checkpoint and filled it with so many traffic signs. The checkpoint janitor is now cleaning here.
We drive through the Shahak industrial area in the seam zone. As we drove we saw two picnic tables outside the army base and six classrooms and an administration building being added to the Tlalei Orot school for the settlements’ children. The school at Umm a-Reihan is also expanding.
Vehicles with Israeli license plates coexist wonderfully with Palestinian vehicles at the Shahak industrial area. The Palestinian vehicles belong to Palestinian residents of the seam zone. Palestinian residents of the West Bank can’t come here in their cars, “of course.”
16:15 Reihan-Barta’a checkpoint, seam zone side
We descend the fenced corridor to the terminal along with laborers returning from work. Only one inspection window is open. A few female students are returning from the West Bank; a line of 50 people immediately forms.
16:25 The second revolving gate opens; only Israeli work permit holders are allowed to cross. The line disappears in a few minutes. Two inspection windows open at 16:30 and there’s no line. Nor are people delayed crossing from the West Bank to the seam zone. One tells us, “It will be like this every day if you’re here.” It’s not easy to see the men coming out of the terminal holding their belts after removing them before going through the scanner.
They’re cleaning here also. Two Palestinians are doing the work.
Two little children run to the terminal in front of their parents. They play at the revolving gate and the water cooler at the entrance. Checkpoint games.
17:00 We leave; there’s no line. We hope it stays that way. A car stands at the vehicle checkpoint, its doors, trunk and hood open. The driver sits on a bench in the garden, waiting. Every corner of the car is inspected with the help of a mirror; finally the car and driver are released. Another car goes through immediately; only the driver’s documents are checked.
Translator: Charles K.
06:10 A’anin agricultural checkpoint
The first person just crossed; it seems the checkpoint has opened late again. Many of those crossing are young. They’re worried because the permits they received for the olive harvest are about to expire and they don’t know whether they’d be renewed. These stresses and concerns result from the ways the occupation spices things up to ensure everyone behaves well.
One by one they spread the meager contents of the plastic bags they’re carrying out on the ground before the soldiers; the soldier’s hands are in his pockets, the female soldier leans against the concrete barrier on which the computer sits.
Home-made cigarettes are prohibited. We telephone the DCO representative, who doesn’t answer. Nor does the DCO.
07:00 We leave after a few dozen people and three tractors have crossed, but no women.
07:10 Tura-Shaked checkpoint
The school transport arrives with the children who pour out in a run and go through the checkpoint to the village of Tura where the kindergarten and elementary school are located. A few female students and older girls also cross, apparently to the college in Jenin. Towards 07:30 the white collar workers cross to the West Bank – Palestinian Authority officials and bank employees.
The school bus driver asks the soldiers to inspect him quickly because the children are waiting. Laborers and teachers cross from the West Bank to the seam zone.
One man keeps complaining that the checkpoint opens at 07:00, not at 06:00, and we keep responding that the mukhtar of Dahar al Malik has to take care of it with the Civil Administration.
A (really) nice soldier comes over to talk to us. He serves here in order to ensure that the rights and the dignity of those crossing are preserved. What naivety. A bleeding heart from Tel Aviv.
07:40 The new Reihan-Barta’a checkpoint
People cross quickly; everything operates like a well-oiled machine. People enter in groups of five and go through the revolving gate. Once a sixth man tried to get in but the revolving gate stopped until the rebel retreated. Ordnung muss sein. One of the drivers says, “Charlie is A-OK.” Charlie is the new checkpoint manager. A young man from A’anin tells us the police stopped him near the Umm Reihan school and confiscated his agricultural crossing permit, saying he wasn’t allowed to be there. Now he’s worried, doesn’t know when or whether he’ll get it back and how he’ll get home to A’anin. We telephone the DCO representative, and the DCO, but there’s no answer.
Two pickup trucks wait to be inspected. They entered before we left.
At the seam zone entrance to the terminal: We’re told that today it takes only a few minutes to cross.
A few cars being inspected at the station on the road. A little boy, the son of one of the drivers, climbs on the rock opposite the inspector. He tries to peek in, touches the device that checks the magnetic card…the crossing is a game to him. He’ll learn…
08:30 We left.
Translation: Naomi Gal
An exhausting and infuriating shift: ‘Anin Checkpoint was opened belatedly. At Reihan-Barta’a Checkpoint there was a constant crowded queue.
14:50 'Anin Checkpoint
About 20 people and four tractors are already waiting. Three people are praying on the side.
15:00 the checkpoint is closed, there are no soldiers. We called the DCO; they said they would notify the territorial brigade and they will send the soldiers. After a while we called again, they told us that the territorial brigadeinsured that soldiers will arrive soon. We called the bregade, they said they are up to date, there was a stone throwing incident nearbyand the soldiers are on their way to the checkpoint. Meanwhile more people arrive at the checkpoint.
15:30 the soldiers arrived, half an hour late, and opened the gates of the checkpoint.
One man told us that he has a special permit to cross at Shaked –Turah Checkpoint, when the ‘Anin Checkpoint is closed (this agricultural checkpoint opens only twice a week). Despite the distance - an hour and a half drive and 150 shekels for the fuel, still it is important for him to properly tend the 120 dunams (about 30 acres) of olives he owns.
16:00 everybody had crossed, including a family with a veiled mother and two toddlers. Everyone, including several children who were there, waited quietly and patiently. This is hard to grasp.
A rather older reserve soldier says that they arrived late to the checkpoint because children in Araka threw stones at the fence.
16:10 Shaked – Turah Checkpoint
There are all kinds of traffic lights and signs inside the checkpoint but no traffic. One woman crosses into the Seam Zone.
16:25 Riehan – Barta’a Checkpoint (seam zone side)
A woman-Instructor from Givat Haviva (a Jewish-Arab center for culture and education activities), leads a group of students from abroad, and asks us to tell them about MachsomWatch .
16:40 two windows are open at the terminal and there is no queue. This only lasts a few moments. One window closes because of a problem and immediately a line is formed. Every now and then they open the second carousel for workers who return from work in Israel and they pass quickly and with no checking. The passage of owners of work permits in the Seam Zone is slow. Most of the time there is a queue of about 50 people in front of the carousel at the entrance to the terminal. The people are tired and angry. We address one of the guards, he says that there is a hitch and “there must be a line.” We call CH, the head of the Checkpoint. He'd check what goes on.
The line is still in place.
One man tells us that yesterday morning they fired tear gas at the people at Irtach Checkpoint. He does not know why. His eyes were hurt. (In the morning they cross to Israel from Irtach Checkpoint [centeral west bank] and in the afternoon they have to return home from Reihan Checkpoint [north-west west bank.)
17:30 once there is hardly any queue we leave and go up to the parking lot. Facing us workers and families continue to arrive, going down to the terminal. We fear that a queue is forming yet again, but we do not go back to check.
Translator: Charles K.
06:00-07:35 A’anin checkpoint
The soldiers (reservists) were already at the checkpoint, but opened it only half an hour later. They couldn’t find a pen, searched and searched, and finally asked us and received one as a present. During the time that was wasted we talked to a young man from Umm el Fahm who was waiting in his car for someone. He told us a fascinating story about his grandmother, Helen Leah Leila Warshavsky-Jabarin, a holocaust survivor, who at 14 married an Arab from Umm el Fahm (who “grabbed her…,” she said) and together built a large, many-branched family. Here’s an interviewwith her on Channel 2.
People crossing are inspected in the middle of the checkpoint; the soldiers weren’t careful today and there was confusion, dozens of people pushed and shoved and overflowed the checkpoint, so much so that some of those crossing gave themselves a failing grade in deportment: “We’re the ones who aren’t behaving well today.” It seems that the young people who’d only recently obtained for the first time their own individual crossing permits are the ones inciting the disruption. Some of them approached us asking for help getting permits for the seam zone (there’s an agricultural permit and a separate employment permit) – they’re 17, 18, 20 years old.
So how’d you get through this time?
Others, including two women, ask us to hurry up renewal of their permits, which expire this month. We wrote down numerous iD numbers and phone numbers, even though it’s clear we can’t do much to assist in this matter, but we couldn’t ignore the requests. We’ll inquire…maybe it will help.
Two youths approached the fence from inside the checkpoint, wanting to speak to us. The soldiers, unexpectedly, not only didn’t order them to return to the village but even sent a soldier to escort them (because of the pen?) until they finished asking us to help them obtain permits.
07:37 Shaked-Tura checkpoint
Only one Palestinian hurrying at this hour to cross from Tura to the seam zone. Soldiers wandered around the checkpoint with nothing to do; it was empty and quiet. But not peaceful.
07:45 Reihan-Barta’a checkpoint
We passed the large checkpoint which does an excellent job of making the occupation run like clockwork. Six trucks loaded with vegetables, charcoal and other merchandise wait to be inspected and drive on, most of them to eastern Barta’a, capital of the northern seam zone.
08:00 Dothan-Yabed checkpoint
The shifts are changing. Vehicles flow through in both directions, almost without anyone touching them.
The green, pastoral landscape and the fresh air make you almost forget the occupation.
Translator: Charles K.
A’anin checkpoint 06:05-06:45
Cold and dark. The sun is taking its own sweet time. The soldiers inspect at the middle gate the people who are waiting at the lower gate, out of our sight and earshot. Those coming through report the soldiers are “ok, good.,” which means that “they’re not causing problems today” [if you have a valid crossing permit]. A resident of A’anin who lives with his wife in eastern Barta’a visits his parents in A’anin every week. This checkpoint opens only twice a week, which doesn’t fit his schedule of visits. He applied at the DCO for a crossing permit at the Shaked checkpoint (which is open every day), but was refused. Someone else says his eldest son, age 17, can’t get an agricultural permit to cross daily to the seam zone. We
referred him to the humanitarian office. Everyone coming through asks how we are and greet us happily.
Shaked-Tura checkpoint 06:55-07:15
The soldiers quickly get organized to open the checkpoint. A pole blocking the road on the Tura side is blinking red – no one may cross until it is raised. There’s no end to the innovations at this checkpoint, jammed with a plethora of remarkably ugly installations for directing people and vehicles. Now the sun, which was delayed at A’anin (low clouds), arrives, dawning beyond the barbed wire. Once again we realize – there’s no denying it – that Israel isn’t the center of the universe. Exuberant children get out of the vehicles that brought them and cross quickly to Tura without being inspected.
Dothan-Yabed checkpoint 07:30-07:50
Traffic flows with no delays - west toward the seam zone and east toward Jenin. An armed soldier wearing a large yarmulke approaches us to find out who we are. He’s a deputy company commander; his name is Yishayahu, named for Yishayahu Leibowitz, who was his father’s teacher. He believes that everyone crossing here is first and foremost a human being, and agrees that the occupation is evil and the checkpoints may contribute more to terror than to security. He doesn’t hide his views from those under his command, and knows they don’t all agree with him.
Reihan-Barta’a checkpoint 08:10
Eight loaded trucks wait on the road to go through. The crates of fruits and vegetables are wrapped in plastic. The parking lots, from the hill opposite Z’beida to the large lot at the checkpoint itself, are full of cars whose number keeps growing.
Regards from Walid.
Translator: Charles K.
15:15 A’anin agricultural gate
Few people arrive from the seam zone; they cross to A’anin on the West Bank almost immediately after their documents are inspected. A few youths are detained briefly for an additional check and released ten minutes later. A cute puppy is tied at the entrance to the checkpoint; the soldiers say one of the residents wanted to take it with him to A’anin but wasn’t allowed.
15:35 Before closing the checkpoint, the soldiers take the puppy with them.
15:45 Shaked-Tura checkpoint
Many people returning from the West Bank to the seam zone, including female students from JeninUniversity. Only a few cross to the West Bank. The crossing operates normally; occasional brief delays stop the flow of people. A boy on a bicycle crosses to the West Bank, accompanied by two dogs.
16:15 Reihan-Barta’a checkpoint
The parking lot is full of vehicles and taxis waiting for people returning from work. Hadi is also here with his stand. Drivers from Yabed tell us the gate blocking one of the roads to the village is still closed. They say that if someone tries to get to the village through the fields and is caught, they’re punished. The army is still patrolling in Yabed, angering the villagers and tempting the children to throw rocks.
16:40 Many workers are returning to the West Bank from jobs in the seam zone or in Israel. We go up to the terminal to see them enter. Two windows are open and people go through quickly. A line slowly forms, and when people are crossing in the opposite direction those goingto the West Bankhave to wait. Families with children cross to the seam zone.
As 17:30 approaches two windows close. Congestion, anger and weariness combine to create tension. People say the crowding is a daily occurrence. We try to reach Charlie, who’s unavailable – in a meeting. We contact one of the checkpoint employees; he arrives a few minutes later and reduces the congestion. Crowding increases as 18:00 approaches and again he helps ease the congestion.
18:00 Workers continue to arrive. We’re told the congestion will last until 19:00.
Translation: dvora K.
14:55 A'anin CP
About 20 men and two women go through from the seamline zone, returning to the village. Three young men are detained. We hear a military policewoman asking one of them (dressed in a red sweatshirt) where he's been in the morning. We do not hear his answer. A few more farmers arrive and go through. The person who cleans the CPs, a resident of Tura, collects papers and remains of garbage on the side of the seamline zone and between the fences. He ties the garbage bag and asks who is in charge of the CP, is careful to tell the soldiers not to forget the bag when they return to the base. He explains to us that he does both his work and theirs.
15:30 The military policewoman lets the person with the red sweatshirt go. He decides to go through to the seamline zone (in the afternoon the traffic is only in the direction of the village of A'anin) and two soldiers run after him and send him to A'anin.
15:50 There are still two detainees. I try to find out what the problem is. The policewoman answers curtly, "There is no problem. Mind your own business and I'll mind mine."
16:10 The two detainees are allowed to go on their way, to A'anin. We also leave.
16:20 Shaked-Tura CP
There is some traffic - vehicles and pedestrians - from the seamline zone to the West Bank. A few go through to the seamline zone.
16:40 Reihan-Barta'a CP, Seamline Zone side
Two little girls are on the see-saw near the parking lot. Nice. With the workers we go down into the sleeve that leads to the terminal. About 30 people crowd near the turnstile at the entrance on their way back to the West Bank settlements. Three young girls and a little boy are sitting on the detainee bench. After some time we understood why. They were waiting for their mother with her veil and gloves.
Two inspection windows are open and that is really not enough. There are at least 30 -40 people near the turnstile at the entrance to the terminal at almost any given minute. Every person who goes through in the opposite direction to that of the workers, among them a student, a family, etc, from the West Bank to the seamline zone, delays the workers on their way to the West Bank. The people are tired and angry. One of them tells us that 'there is no such thing as more hate than here." He also says "a state of sons of bitches'. Sometimes they let people in in fives, sometimes in tens, and sometimes as many as the area in front of the windows allows. The system is unclear. There is a queue all the time.
17:10 They opened another window for those who have passes to work in Israel. They also opened a second turnstile at the entrance for them. That immediately shortens the queue, but after a short time they go back to two windows, and the queue gets longer.
17:25 For a short time, they opened a third window for those with passes to work in Israel. The window is closed again and the queue gets longer.
18:00 At long last there is no queue. We climb up again in the sleeve. Some more workers are going down to the terminal We do not go back to see the condition of the queue. We want to go home by now.