Problems at Agricultural Gates
Incidents that occurred towards the end of Ramadan this year and were related to us from the Palestinians who actually experienced the events.
One incident that we heard about was of H. who passes everyday to get to work at the nursery just outside of the gate at Habla, which is a seam line village. As usual in the morning he approached the gate to cross, recognizing the soldiers on duty; he searches for his ID and sees that he doesn't have it on him. Pleading with the soldiers to let him pass to go to work, they refused, although they said that they know him.
The second incident was with O., the nursery owner near the gate of Habla. The Friday night before the end of Ramadan, at midnight he arrived at Beit Iba to enter Nablus, he was driving a car of a woman friend who was in the car, also with his wife and another woman. It was late at night and the woman felt more comfortable with O. driving. As they approached the checkpoint at Beit Iba the soldier asked for the papers, O. gave him the proper papers and authorization to pass, the soldiers began harassing him, inquiring why he was driving. O. asked if it is unlawful for him to be driving someone else's car. He explained that he was assisting her, because she felt uneasy driving at that time of night.
O. tried to talk (he speaks and understands quite good Hebrew) to them and find out why they were being aggressive and cruel with him. As he spoke to them they became more hostile and belligerent. They required O. to open the boot where there were bags of clothing and personal items. The soldiers threw the personal items out of the bags on the road. They called over the dog to sniff through the belongings. O. requested that they check the things and not let the dog sniff through the personal belongings (under garments). The soldiers didn't relate to O.'s request, when they told him to put the belongings back, he started to put in the bags, but the soldiers just said to throw them in the boot.
They were allowed to pass, after and hour and half of being embarrassed, humiliated, and harassed.
went by car in into the village and came to the checkpoint (the gate of
the fence between Azun Atmeh and the West Bank.
15.50 When we got there
there were no lines or detainees. On the other side were two cars so
the passers by told us.
women and a chld dressed in holiday best came through on foot because
the car that had brought them was not allowed to pass. Now they stand
and wait for some one to pass by and take them to the village. The fact
that if they take a taxi it will cost them more forces them to depend
on the goodwill of others and the spirit of Ramadan. Few cars pass here
and only after a quarter of an hour does someone pick them up. People
return from work …less than usual. It seems that in Ramadan whoever can
allow himself to do so does not go to work in Israel. Some 10s of
people do, those who have permits or are marked down as residents of
Azun pass through. Others are sent to the shed of the detainees.
delay is about 10 minutes long at the end of which one of the soldiers
or the commander give them a lecture after standing them in line. Now
the workers who have returned after a long and tiring day and who are
fasting are told to stand with their backs to the checkpoint and not to
speak and to stand facing the cement wall. Another small humiliations
on the way home.
group say that a week ago on Thursday one of the men who looks like a
boy and who did not have a permit got into an altercation with a
soldier and was beaten. The man himself told us that this was so and
described the soldier as a ginger head with a beard.
resident of Azun said that a few days ago at 6.00 a soldier had
demanded from one of the drivers whose name he gave me to go and bring
him something to drink and cigarettes. When the man refused the
soldiers closed the checkpoint for half an hour. The man said that
because of that he was half an hour late for work (at one of the
said that his sister had married two years ago and now lives in Bahala.
Since then she has not visited her parents' home in Azun because she
is no longer a resident of the area.
who has worked for 26 years at the factory of "Bagel and bagel" had
worked previously at a factory in Holon. But since the factory moved to
Barkan he is working at the former. He works shifts from 10 am to 10 pm
but when he gets home he is dependent on the good will of the soldiers
as to whether he can pass. It often happens that he is forced to spend
the night under the stars. He cannot get there earlier because the
transport is meant for the general workers. The soldiers who saw the
man speaking to us came nearer and sent him away and one soldier, tall
and with a kipa scolded him for talking to us.
said to us that in the olive season he was not allowed to get to his
fields because they are on the other side of the fence. We told him to
speak to Hagar.
entire period were about 5-6 cars waiting to enter Azun and from the
side of the fence there were the same amount and when the traffic was
allowed to pass through the line emptied. All the information on what
was happening on the other side reached us through the Palestinians. We
did not go to the other side or go up to the soldiers so as to prevent
the checkpoint being closed.
the end of the checkpoint a female sergeant came up to speak to us. Not
to argue. She of course gave us the sentences which she heard from the
commander but she was ready to listen to us. We asked her if she knew
where she was as she kept saying that the Palestinians were crossing
into Israel. She said that on her side it was a blue area and on the
other red. So the army tries to bypass the fact of the occupations and
the necessity of using the correct terms….Israel, the green line, the
border, Israeli area, Palestinian area. And let us not use the vulgar
word "occupation." I have heard these descriptions from other
soldiers. How easy and simple, there is a blue side and a green side
and by coincidence there are human beings living there but that has no
meaning and by chance there is occupation but that has no connection.
We do not have to bring politics into this. A GAME OF COLOURS. Clean,
sterile and elegant.
17.50 We left.
12:10 Zaatra Checkpoint
Two Border Police jeeps, and one of military police, by the settlers’ hitchiking station. Today Palestinian travellers are also being checked in the direction of Huwwara.
12:37 Maale Ephraim Checkpoint
Cars with Israeli license plates are waved through. The Palestinians are stopped. Driver and passengers hand over IDs, the baggage compartment is inspected. All the while, the sentry’s rifle is pointed at the people being checked. Several Jewish youths sit by the checkpoint, waiting for a ride, while a girl plays a recorder.
13:02 Hamra Checkpoint
A long line of cars – four from the north, 14 from east to west (the Valley to the West Bank) and 16 from west to east. The soldiers stopped checking for half an hour as they took a lunch break, all of them together. Under the shed erected for waiting Palestinians the soldiers have positioned their gigantic water container. Pedestrians are bypassing the hut. The taps intended for the Palestinians are dry. Checking starts anew shortly after we arrive – in one direction. An additional jeepload of soldiers arrives, and one of them joins the checkers, scrutinising faces, ordering some of the cars to park on the side for additional inspection, all in a particularly lordly tone. When we ask him why the checking from the direction of the West Bank is not renewed – indicating the elderly pedestrians compelled to wait a long time for the cars that brought them, in the heat – he says “They’re used to it.” At 13:25 checking starts for cars coming from the West Bank. The jeep drives away from the checkpoint. When we leave, at 13:36, and approach our car, we see that same jeep parked beside the car. Noticing us, they drive off quickly. After a short drive it becomes apparent that they had extracted air from a tire. We were compelled to change a tire.
14:05 Tayasir Checkpoint
One car waiting on one side, and four on the other. One pedestrian waiting under the shed. A soldier greets us: “You arrive like that with nothing, I could shoot you.” Later he receives a command not to deal with us. The vehicle checking is thorough and long. The soldier points a finger at parts of the vehicle that he wants the driver to expose – engine cover, glove compartments, under the seats, under the vehicle. Each check takes a few minutes and also includes IDs and raising shirts in front of everyone. A truck loaded with hay approaches the checkpoint. The soldiers order the driver to back up to the entrance to the checkpoint and cover the hay with a black tarpaulin. They tell the driver that it is safer for him. The soldier responsible for checking pedestrians has been sitting, idle, in his cubbyhole since we arrived. A quarter of an hour later, following a complaint, he is asked over the radio why he hasn’t checked the man waiting in the shed: “I don’t do that... I wait till there are four of five, and then I check them” (at this checkpoint, the pedestrians are mostly passengers from the cars checked separately. Few cars, fewer passengers. Meanwhile the cars await the passengers). When the man finally passes, he testifies thart he has been waiting half an hour.
A soldier comes to say that his company commander does not want the journalists to take photos. After a while we are informed that there is a “hot warning” and we are to move away. The checkpoint soldiers carry on without their helmets. A taxi driver stops by us, after passing the checkpoint, and says that the soldier cursed him while checking his car. He refuses to repeat the exact words, and finally mumbles “your mother’s c–t, etc.” He asks us not to repeat to the soldiers what he said.
When we leave, our friend T. was first in line of the cars waiting for inspection. We phone later and find that he has waited for an hour and a half.
15:25 – we arrive at the locked gate in the open area sealed by a ditch along its whole length, facing the settlement of Ro’i. The gate is opened three times a week, twice a day. Only then can cars go through. Today it is supposed to be open between 15:00 and 15:30. When we arrive there are two cars, one on each side – and the gate is locked. The waiting people say that often the gate does not open on time, and they are forced to wait, or that the soldiers don’t bother to come at all. We call the DCO at 15:45 to ask why the soldiers haven’t come, and are told that “there’s a hot warning and the soldiers are busy.” In later conversations, they contend that “someone tried to brealk through the gate, and the soldiers are chasing him.” The gate is of course bolted and padlocked, and no one tried to break through. When the soldiers arrived at 16:00, they said that they had arrangements to make. They opened at 16:05 and then closed it and left.
At 16:10 S. arrived, accompanied by his children. Last week they had been kidnapped by the army (story was covered in Haaretz). They were returning from Jericho, where they had been summoned by the army for an internal investigation of the kidnapping. Of course they were late for the opening time of the gate, and if they took an alternative route (including checkpoints) they would arrive home in the evening. After a number of phone calls, a DCO officer said that the soldiers would come to open for them, but it would take time. S. commented that, when someone crosses the ditch without permission, the soldiers arrive in minutes – since the area is under constant surveillance.
17:55 – the same soldiers arrive to open the gate, and the family passes through.
18:05 –we pass by Hamra Checkpoint and see a line of 24 cars waiting from the west towards the Rift Valley, and four the other way into the West Bank.
19:11 Shaar Shomron Checkpoint
A Palestinian youth sits, handcuffed from behind, back to the checkpoint. He has been here since an hour and a half ago. He was caught trying to enter Israel to work – in the baggage compartment of a car driven by an Israeli Jew (who was also detained, but not handcuffed and not forced to sit with his back to the checkpoint). The youth complains that the handcuffs are painful, and could they be loosened...? The woman soldier says that she put them on loosely, but other soldiers eventually agree to remove them. Two red “bracelets” remain on his hands and the youngster constantly massages them. A soldier asks another soldier why was he handcuffed. Did he try to escape? “Something like that!” At 19:45 a policeman arrives. Again he handcuffs the youth and puts him in his vehicle together with an older holder of a blue Israeli ID which the soldiers claim to be a forgery. The Israeli Jew was interrogated on the spot.
20:05 – we leave.
05:00 Reihan-Bartaa Checkpoint
On the way to the temple, shoes off, bags open. Everything as usual! The crow outside moves in. The residents remain waiting in single file this time at the entrance to the terminal.
05:25 – the checkpoint empties out, and whoever comes now enters the terminal,immediately. Two private cars are being checked, by the dog too. Four pickups loaded with vegetables in the parking lot.
05:30 – the seamstresses say there is a jam in the terminal, and only one position is working. After half an hour we are told that another window opened. Going through the terminal usually takes 20-35 minutes.
06:00 Aanin Checkpoint
07:05 Shaked (Tura) Checkpoint
07:30 Aanin Checkpoint
Around 100 people and a heavy vehicle have already passed. Some were sent back because “they are trying to fool us.”
07:50 Reihan-Bartaa Checkpoint
An older man in uniform, armed with a gun, parks his car in the middle of the road and asks for a ride to Mevo Dotan. Finally he decides to wait for a bus to the settlement (#27) and then drive behind it. “That’s okay?” there are two roads in the West Bank: one for Palestinian residents and other Arabs, and one for Israelis. Between them sit the guard huts. The former are required to undergo the persistent and humiliating process of inspection and interrogation, while the “elite” citizens pass through the checkpoints quickly.
A bus passes en route to Jenin. All its passengers (20) are delayed for inspection at the hut, and then they reboard and continue on their way. They don’t have to walk through the sleeve – that’s also something!
09:00 – we leave.
We arrived at 17.30 and the previous shift had left an hour and a half previously. A taxi driver said that the passage was very slow after that and asked us to come. Many people stop us to say that Sunday was terrible and that the soldiers were animals, had beaten people and cursed.
There are 5 detainees in the shed who are freed when we arrived and until we left no more people were detained. The soldier checks the parcels on the ground and orders the man to spread the contents out and at the end throws the ID at his feet. One man says the soldier spat at him and said to him that he been 30 years of age and not 45 he would have punched him. Once again the parcels are checked in the dirt and every now and again the woman soldier starts screaming. She grabs to shirt of one man and said<, "I will tear you apart." What are you whispering. I asked your age. What he looks as if he is 16? Ask the soldiers.
A couple from the villages who are originally from Gaza and have 10 children have lived in the village for 15 years. Until 5 month ago they had been given temporary permits as they cannot change their address but now they can not get them at the DCO. The mother with two children is detained for half an hour. They speak to the soldiers and show all the papers they have and in the end the soldiers let them through for the last time.
The checking area is operated by the soldiers from afar. They go through fences to a window which has a small slit where they leave the ID and then go left to a heavy door with a knob which then opens. They go under the x-ray device, a room which is three by three and the baggage is screened. Then they get the ID from another windows and then wait for the door to open and exit. It is not here that people are beaten but in a room behind the sentry tower.
We left at 18.52
An especially aggravating day; nothing functions properly – checking equipment doesn’t work, transit of people is lackadaisical, Palestinian time wasted.
05:10 Reihan-Bartaa Checkpoint
Scores of men crowded up to the gate leading to the terminal. One on top of the other, streaming to the gate, however possible. The women stand aside quietly. The x-ray machine is broken. A man says that yesterday people returning to the West Bank were held up for two hours for the same reason. The seamstresses also complain that they are losing time and money because of the paralyzed machine.
05:15 – the checkpoint opens, men and women alternate, in groups of five. Required to empty or display contents of the bags, remove shoes. After ten minutes, transit stops. Sharon, the manager, arrives to check, but resolves nothing. 15 men and women are stuck inside the terminal. Those who succeeded in passing and exiting must in any case wait for their colleagues. After five minutes, flow starts again. Pace is very slow. In place of the broken down machine, people must undergo inspection in the side rooms. Mostly youngsters. Sharon says that heat inside the terminal harms the computer of the inspection machine.
Seven pickup trucks wait for inspection of their produce. Inspection now begins at 06:00 and continues until 16:00.
A resident of Zabda talks about his son (family man, unemployed four years), who has an eye problem, and needs to get to an East Jerusalem hospital for examination. He is at the DCO, waiting for a transit permit, which he may or may not get. The father is worried. He's in despair because he cannot help. Waiting for a phone call. The hospital examination is at 09:00, and if he doesn’t get the permit – what will happen to the son's eye?
06:10 Aanin Checkpoint
More than a hundred people are waiting to cross into the Seam Zone. The soldiers are checking them down below at the lower gate, far from our eyes. Pace of transit is slow. The checkpoint gates allow passage of one person, and they are only opened when a tractor arrives. Carriers of bags are required to spread the contents on the ground. Soldiers list every conceivable detail of the transients, including number of accompanying children. This listing considerably delays the passage.
A man tells us angrily that, last week, they confiscated his (student) son’s ID and agricultural pass. The son has exams in these days. His applications to the DCO were met with rudeness. No one is willing to listen or help. A direct call by us to the DCO also doesn’t help, but later, with the intervention of the army and Association for Civil Rights, the documents were returned to the son.
A number of people want to return home to Aanin. A woman wants to help her son who does not have a permit. She calls on the soldier’s compassion, but gets no answer. Two women want to visit a sick relative in nearby Um el-Reihan, and are sent to Reihan Checkpoint.
06:30 – the pace of transit picks up. Close to 07:00, the lower checkpoint is closed, and the check of those inside the checkpoint continues. Some 15-20 youngsters are not allowed to pass.
07:50 Shaked-Tura Checkpoint
At this hour, few people passing in either direction. Individual cars go through.
08:10 Reihan-Bartaa Checkpoint
Transit has stopped since 06:00. The tension and anger are unbearable. People are stuck in the terminal and outside. Somebody tells me that he needs a toilet, but there aren’t any. Some people give up on the day’s work and decide to go home. The DCO adamantly insists that everything is okay, but after we insist they say they will check. There is no DCO representative present. Sharon talks of a crashed system.
09:18 – the checkpoint opens again, and the rate of transit is disgustingly slow. In half an hour only ten people pass, including a woman with baby and two daughters. Towards 09:30, the rate increases. By Amriha we are told that there is also a checkpoint and vehicles are being delayed. Is this connected to the many Hummers observed floating around the West Bank?
09:50 – we left.
06:07 Aanin Checkpoint
The checkpoint is open, people are passing, arguments can be heard in the background, apparently about the line. Transit is fast – three minutes to check a tractor, one minute per man.
06:30 – everybody has been taken into the inner checkpoint, between the gates. Today the number of people is greater than usual, seems like 60, including more women and children than usual (holiday time and many seem festively dressed for family visits). In addition there are three tractors.
Bitter voices and line problems growing. The soldiers are shouting all the time "back!" and transit is becoming slower.
06:45 – the soldiers have stopped passage and closed the gate. A jeep has arrived, and four more soldiers climb out and shout at everyone to move back.
07:00 – transit is again at a reasonable rate, while four soldiers are watching over the line and another three are checking IDs. The officer from the jeep comes to us to ask who we are and what are we writing...
Despite all the chaos, an older woman crossed among the first, and noticed that she had forgotten her medications, so the soldiers let her through to get them from her son on the other side of the checkpoint.
07:18 Shaked-Tura Checkpoint
Here3 too there are more soldiers than usual – seven with another in the observation point. Perhaps 20 people waiting to pass, and the pace is reasonable.
A man relates that yesterday the checkpoint did not open until eight or nine am, because a 12 year old boy crossed under the fence and, until they found him, they did not open the checkpoint.
07:40 Rihan-Bartaa Checkpoint
Seven pickup trucks with agricultural waiting for inspection, three being checked. Quiet and not many people.
Perhaps 20 waiting in the sleeve to enter the terminal for ten minutes, and then entering in one group.
ended in blood. This report is sent first of all as a warning. There is
a a great danger that if this soldier is not removed from the checkpoint there
will soon be victims, bloody from his deeds, not only his beatings,
humiliations and abuse of the sort that is described here. We know who
he is and have his picture. We hope that those who read these reports
will discover who is responsible for the army unit at this checkpoint.
17.25 We got to Azzun Atme from Beit Amin ( that is inside the West Bank) and
before we even had time to park, the taxi drivers came up to us and said
that the soldiers were beating two men. We crossed the checkpoint in the
direction of the village. In the shed of the soldiers we saw a young
man and three soldiers speaking to him. He was not handcuffed and stood
on his feet, taller than the soldiers. We could not go near to him. At
the entrance to the village in the direction of the West Bank were
about 10 cars and it seems that the soldiers had sent the last car
which had gone through some time before we arrived. (Were they maybe
busy beating the young man?)
Opposite at the side of the road which comes down from the village sat
more than 120 men who were not inhabitants of the village and who had
no permits to enter. I counted 124 people sitting but others stood in
various places and the whole time more people were arrived and I think
that up to 150 were detained. We started phoning, Natanya to the
center and I to Micky Fisher and I then went to get my camera from the
car. When I started back in the direction of the gate I saw many people
coming through the gate in the direction of the West Bank and
understood that all in one swoop one of the soldiers had freed them
all. I began to photograph the people and the shouts of the taxi
drivers saying in which direction they were heading. I came to a group
which was standing near the gate and who were trying to find their IDs
in the bunch which the one soldier had thrown in the direction of the
group. While I was coming up and photographing people began to run
away from the gate and I heard a shot. I ran away together with them
qas it was not clear to me who had shot or at what. I saw smoke
spreading and soon realised that the soldiers had thrown a shock
grenade. I went back in the direction of the gate and photographed the
soldier who was pointing his weapon at the group and now also at me.
Natanya who was standing close to him says that he tried to pull her
back so as to stand behind him before he shot. She was a witness to the
shooting of the shock grenade into the huge crowd which stood next to
the cars with babies and children who were waiting to enter the
village. (There is also a video which I made and the remains of the
grenade which have been given to Betselem. If the video is clear enough
they will be put on the site of Machsomwatch and Betselem.
group of people who had not yet received their IDs were standing close
to the gate. The soldiers there said "One by one" but after some nerve
shattering moments gave them the whole pile. I went to see the young
man whom I had been told had been beaten. He had just been freed and
was walking accompanied by some people and refused to speak to me or
stop or to make a complaint and seemed very upset. I could only see
that the back of his neck was very red. After that some young men came
past one of whom had been hit by the grenade and I photographed this. I
immediately put him into contact with Betselem.
now the soldiers began letting cars into the village. They had waited
at least half an hour to get in or out. In the cars were families with
children and babies all of whom had seen the shock grenade fired next
to the cars and maybe also the beating.
In order to calm down a bit we went to the checkpoint Jalud on the road to
Qalqiliya. There are still reservists there and while we were there the
soldiers just greeted the people but did not check the cars. We spoke
to them while we waited to be allowed to go into Ras-Atiya. We were
also told that the army had started opening the gate 1419. One of the
soldiers explained the checkpoint to us…..closure on Qalqiliya. It is
hard to explain to anyone who has not been to this checkpoint how
ridiculous it is . On the road which passed between Palestinian
villages most of which are along the road and are between the two
separation fences. One of them is near the green line round about
opposite Nirit and Oranit and the second that of Alfei Menashe. Until
lately this road was the worse in the area but a month ago the
Palestinian Authority tarred it. All the village in the area live
within a network of fences which now define what is near or far. Places
that were within 50-100 metres from the home now have to be reached
through the time of opening of various gates, cars and tractors or on
foot. Where there is a fence of a gate one needs a permit which are
usually not given.
minutes later we came back to Azzun at about 19.00 and saw that the
soldiers were again detaining a large group of about 20 people. The
group stood around the soldier Ben and another soldier. Ben was having
a "sing-song" and the detainees had to sing for him before they got
their IDs back after being checked by another soldier. The group stood
and sang loudly and only after that were they given their IDs . I did
not stand close but the previous time when I had been at the checkpoint
I had seen the same soldier "joking: with a man who had come to take
his ID, First of all he proclaimed in a loud and happy voice the name
of the man and when he came up had handed him his ID ceremoniously and
then when the man put out his hand to take it pulled it back. This game
was played a few times before the man got his ID. People come back from
a tiring day at work and sometimes after a week that they have not seen
their families and living in bad conditions, they have to wait in a
nerve wracking situation and then to amuse this crazy soldier as
without their IDs they cannot move anywhere in the area.
same soldier who a short time ago had shot a grenade into a large group
of people and who it seems probably also helped to beat a man now stood
and demanded that he been entertained. We saw no reaction at any time
during these events from the commander of the checkpoint or the
soldiers who had seen Ben's behaviour.
waited until all the detainees had passed and decided to leave. On our
way into the village a group of 5 young men came towards us and begged
us to stay but the hour was late and we left with heavy hearts. We saw
their IDs being taken for checking. Later when I got home a man who had
been detained phoned me and asked for my help as the soldiers had again
detained a group of about 50 men and this at 20.00.
14:30 - 18:45 14:30 Aanin Checkpoint
Children, youths and men are waiting, next to seven tractors, for the gate to open. The soldiers arrive a few minutes after 15:00. A smiling soldier greets the transients with “What’s Up?” and after 20 seconds “Have a good day.” Nevertheless there are occasional delays because of problems with the lists. The smiling soldier informs his partner “There was a mess here in the morning – remind me to give a lesson on these matters...” Afterwards he promises us that, from next Sunday, a shady roof will be installed for the benefit of people waiting, and they also intend to clean around the checkpoint and in Aanin itself “because the children play there in dirt.”
At 15:35 people are still arriving at the gate.
At 15:45 all the waiting people, and three tractors, are asked to move forward beyond the gate being closed behind them. After two minutes, someone arrives at the locked gate and we promise his comrades that the pleasant soldier will open the gate for him – not to worry. But it doesn’t help. The soldiers ignore our cries. At 16:00 precisely the inner gate is locked and the soldiers quickly drive away. The latecomer goes back the way he came.
16:15 Reihan-Bartaa Checkpoint
In the Palestinian parking lot, many cars waiting for workers returning from their jobs. Three cars are being checked, all doors and engine compartments wide open.
At 16:35 we notice, from a distance, workers returning from the Seam Zone/Israel and calmly entering the upper sleeve to the terminal. They come out to the lower Palestinian lot within three to four minutes. The three cars are released from inspection at 16:40 and three more move in to the empty spaces. They come out after exactly 30 minutes.
In the parking lot, a tired worker “complains” that “there aren’t enough checkpoints – can’t you do something?” We laugh...
14:45 – a very young woman with a suitcase emerges from a taxi. She is a student of dentistry in Jenin, and is returning home to Kfar Kara for two weeks vacation till Summer semester. We are curious to see how long she will be in the terminal, so we go up and wait for her by the upper exit. At 17:15 an angry man comes out, claiming that he is late for his evening shift in Shaked because of the suitcase of some student which is being sent back and forwrds on the conveyor belt. At 17:30 the student’s father, a courteous plant owner, arrives and demands demonstratively to know what is going on. Meanwhile many workers are arriving from work, among them V. (hugs and kisses) and proudly shows us his permit. The line to the West Bank is not moving.
Perhaps 120 men waiting at the entrance to the terminal.
At 18:00 it evolves that a computer has crashed. We volunteer to notify the waiting people the reason for the delay. “Yes, yes, sure, the computer again...” After half an hour the workers begin to reach the lower lot. We leave.
At our request, the student’s father calls us at 18:45 to inform that his daughter has finally emerged (since 14:45).
18:45 Shaked-Tura Checkpoint
We leapfrog to the checkpoint, just to see that it is open, though deserted. A young couple comes from the direction of the West Bank. She is pregnant. They travel with us to nearby Dahar el Malkh.
06.30 We arrive at the Eliyahu Crossing to see a crowd of Palestinian labourers behind the wire fence crowded together. No one is going through the check point. We park the car and go over to find out what is happening. The Palestinians are being held up by the border police and when we speak to them they tell us that one of the policemen has been manifesting rough behaviour towards them for some time, kicking them and trampling on their food packages. I go towards the police to try to investigate. One of the border policemen confronts me and tells me to go back from the crossing and is very aggressive. At that moment an army jeep turns up and one of the commanders gets out to speak to the workers in Arabic. We do not understand what is being said. Finally, the Magad (Benny) introduces himself to us and explains that they are handling the situation. We maintain that if the offending policeman is still on duty and still coming into contact with the Palestinians, the situation cannot improve. The policeman is moved away and the labourers start to go through the checkpoint. The Magad assures us that an investigation will be done. The DCO, Eran, who circulates in the area and who, in the past, has been very helpful, is also on the scene. We mention that the labourers complain that they arrive at the crossing at 4 or 4.30 am and the crossing is supposed to be opened at 5.30. It is often not opened until 6.00. After the workers have been waiting 2 hours, the delay is problematic. Eran says he will check.
07.30 we leave the crossing with about 30 Palestinians in line.
07.35 Qalqilya The checkpost is empty and quiet. No checks are visible.
07.45 Azoun – the entrance is open.
Lines are forming on the road from Tul Karm. Buses and taxis are being checked and passengers' ID's are being taken by the soldiers.
We notice a poster on the door of the army booth saying "Thank you Machsom Watch for your cooperation – Signed the Terror Organisations" .
I call the commander and ask him who put it there. He mentions the Right-wing women. When I say that it is offensive and ask if I can remove it, he refuses. A discussion ensues. The commander is very set in his outlook and refuses to listen. In the meantime the line of cars gets longer and one Palestinian is told to get out the taxi and is detained under gunpoint (probably to await the Shabak).
11.05 We leave with about 15 vehicles in line.