06:55 – The gate, which is supposed to open at 06:45, is still closed. Two buses filled with children wait to enter the village. About 50 Palestinians wait to exit behind the inner fence.
The soldiers standing next to the closed gates explain to us that the fault lies with the Palestinians: they made trouble at the farther gates that opened earlier. Some came to the wrong gates and some had the wrong permits. Others argued and got into fights and delayed the opening of those gates. That’s why the soldiers arrived late to Habla and the female MP’s who do the inspections still haven’t arrived.
07:07 – The MP’s arrive. The first outer gate opens.
07:15 – The first bus approaches, after the driver went to and returned from the inspection booth. Two soldiers enter the bus, walk through it and get off. Outside they also check the baggage compartment.
07:25 – The second bus moves and undergoes the same procedure, and we ask ourselves why the IDF cares who enters the Palestinian area of Habla?
The first five residents are inspected, the second five are waiting and there are already arguments among the others.
Eliyahu crossing (Agricultural gate 109)
07:35 – Two Palestinians wait there.
07:45 – The gate is empty. Johan, the ecumenical from the USA, says everyone went through without problems. We had a chance to speak to him and hear about his experiences during the past three months. He said the soldiers were usually polite. We also met two reservists, one with a Shakespearean beard that was impossible to ignore. Johan says the number of exit permits for agricultural work on land belonging to Palestinians declined from 400 last year to 300 this year. He mentioned Abu Is’am , an important public figure in the village whose permit was cancelled after many years. They were told he’d become a security risk.Before the gate was closed, Fa’iz abu Na’il and his children returned from the fields with a pail of black olives, and he told us that hundreds of his trees had been cut down to pave the security road. 08:15 The soldiers close the gate but promise to open it for any latecomers. But they drive to the southern gate; we also do so, on dirt roads, guided by Johan.
Jayyus south 08:30 – Again we drive through the village, this time southward, and take a route where the security fence was to have been erected, and many olive trees had been cut down. The fence was subsequently moved, and Johan showed us the shed erected by the landowner in a new olive grove he’s cultivating lovingly and with dedication.
The soldiers from the northern gate arrived at the same time we did. An elder Palestinian passed with his donkey. Then Stella, from the Ecumenicals, who was to have been at this gate, arrived and says that the mother of the Palestinian we had just seen is at home, dying, and she’d been asked by neighbors and members of the family to visit her. The Ecumenicals have become part of the village.
Falamiya 09:05 – Mustafa comes back from the gate with a pail full of olives. A returning tractor pulls a wagon loaded with lovely guavas. We see large areas of za’atar, but there was no longer anyone we could ask what they do with such a big amount.
10:10 – After driving through Kafr Tsur and Beit Lid, we got on the road to Deir Sharaf, and then north toward Shavei Shomron. We looked for the checkpoint next to Sebastya. We saw two concrete cubes by the side of the road, but the road was open. Soldiers stood only next to the entrance to the army camp, but we didn’t see them stopping anyone.
10:25 We entered, drove around in the checkpoint area and left. We didn’t see any soldiers; not in the tower either.
10:40 – Te’enim crossingNo lines of people waiting to exit. What we did see, in Israeli territory:We saw an army Hummer parked facing east on the right side of the road, only a few meters from the junction with Route 444, opposite Taybe. A civilian car with an Israeli license plate stood facing it, and four or five Arab villagers standing alongside with two soldiers checking their IDs. We tried to understand what was going on, drove to the junction, turned around and came back. The Hummer had disappeared, the civilian car was still there and the villagers climbed up the hill carrying sticks to harvest the olives.Is it possible that the army will stop an Israeli car in Israeli territory because the passengers might be there illegally? Isn’t that the job of the police?
Habla. The gates are shut. About 12 people are waiting in the shade of the caravan, three carts hitched to horses, and on the other side two buses of schoolchildren (one of boys, the second of girls) two trucks, and pedestrians. The sun blazes and the soldiers are nowhere to be seen.
We call the DCO – no reply.
A hummer arrives. 5 men and women soldiers descent, laughing and jubilant. Why were you late we ask, "there was a mess…" they reply and laugh.
The gate nearest to us is opened. A soldier says: "hi everybody, the show begin" but they are in no hurry to open the other gates. We ask what the matter is and the soldiers answer that we disturb them and that we should retreat.
Very slowly the 3 gates are opened. The papers of the bus driver are being checked. The first 5 Palestinians pass on to the checking station. Karin calls the EAPPI representative on the other side of the CP. What she has to say is that this is the soldiers' last day at the CP and that this probably is the reason for the arrogance and disregard, they are there because our morning shift reported on problems.
The first cart owner passes to the village and five Palestinians enter the checking station, in the direction of the village. A Palestinian who waits in the caravan says to us: "do you see that they do to us? Why?" (indeed, why?!). A tractor passes, another five people and a truck. The two buses, with the children are still waiting inside the buses, in the terrible heat. Three grown up children are made to leave the bus. The luggage compartment too is checked. On our side is the representative of the Bedouin village, the only one who remained on this side of the fence. Since the new separation fence at the Alfey Menashe enclave has been completed, his children are forced to undergo this drilling every day on their way to school and back to their homes.
Finally one bus pass, after a waiting time of about an hour. The bus driver tells us that the children who were made to leave the car, have authorizations only for gate no. 109 (Eliyahu CP). He stops to wait for the second bus' the small children who haven't left the bus for a whole hour, use this stop in order to freshen up and to drink water from a pipe in the field. The second bus (the one with the girls) passes aswell and stops.
The buses leave.
Eliyahu passage – the traffic flows.
On the way to the agricultural gate of H' Assla: we turn right from road no. 55 before Azzun, take a hitch-hiker to Izbat Tabib and ask about the problems in the village, where there is a little agriculture and a few hers. He tell us that they don't get building permits. He directs us to the house of Bian the head of the local council. In the courtyard of his house Bian tell us also about the shops that have been demolished, on which we have reported in our report of the 1st of September 2010. (Opposite Izbat Tabib a few shops near the road with a ruined front. The tenant of the shops tells us that the owner of the place, a rich collaborator, sent at night, without a demolition injunction, criminals to destroy the place. Since 21 years he manages shops for car appliances, toys and building material, and supports his expanded family (about 40 people) and now he remains penny-less, after the first payment to the lawyer and the court). He asks us to join him and go to the place, to listen to all the details and to help them. According to him friends and even "internationals" guard the place at night. But as I have already been there and have reported on the matter we decide that it is senseless to go there again.
He also complains about soldiers who enter the village, during the day and at night and create havoc…they stop children and grown-ups. Another burning issue is the fact that they don't obtain any building permits, for private house and the school. They began building an annex to the school and received an order to stop the work. Only three years ago the school was opened, and it has 7 classes only. There are 300 people in the village. He opens a door which leads to a room attached to his house which serves as kindergarten for 7 children. In the room there are 7 small tables but no toys.
We continue to Hirbat Asla, in order to reach the agricultural gate one has to turn right at the entrance to the village, and thus at each junction and intersection. At the end of the paved road there is a dirt road (its beginning is defective) 400 meters in length which leads to it. A pleasant captain tells us that the gate is opened for a quarter of an hour from 15:30 to 15:45 and about 3-4 people only pass through it. Today a shepherd with his sheep flock passed.
We turned to Eyal. At the Eliyahu Passage we are asked to show identity cars.
Eyal Passage – Northern Kalkilya. The last day before the long closure. Many transportation means bring many Palestinians, but all pass without delays.
Tzofim CP – the gate is open. Only 2 cars pass.
We return to road 55 in the direction of El-Punduk and then southwards to Emanuel.
On leaving the village of Hares a young man approaches us and tells us that two months ago soldiers stopped him on the charge of throwing stones (probably somebody informed on him) he was imprisoned in the Megiddo prison, was hit on the head and on other parts of his body, and he was hospitalized in the Belinson hospital. He adds that he has met Dalia and told her his story. We gave him a visiting card of MW with a phone number of a person who talks Arabic, in the hope that he'll get help in getting back the work permit he at in Barkan.
Samaria Gate. At the exit the traffic flow, but at the entrance there is a very long convoy of cars.
06:40 The Eliyahu gate is empty.
06:45 Habla. Two buses at the crossing. The first is turned back because its permit doesn’t specify this checkpoint. The second goes through. Some calls to the DCO, and at 07:20 the first also goes through, but not before two mothers who wanted a ride have to get off. In the background, laborers who are angry at the delays are being “educated.”
Photo: Means of transportation
Photo: The Holy Trinity: A driver, a believer and an officer
07:50 A group of Bedouin pupils arrives on foot as we are leaving; we make sure they get through safely.
08:00 The Eliyahu crossing is empty.
08:15 On our way to Jayyous north we meet John, one of the ecumenicals, who complains about misleading information regarding the time the gate opens – it’s already closed.
08:25 Jayyous south. Stella, one of the ecumenicals, complains of a delay opening the gate. We drive there. They also complain about misleading information regarding the opening times. There are two shepherds and their flocks, and three farmers. A few minutes later the army vehicle arrives, and after a few minutes getting organized the people cross. A talk with Stella reveals a bleak picture – 80 applications submitted for the olive harvest, in the hope that twenty will be approved. She says the number of approvals declines every year. Maybe, before October, it’s worth contacting the DCOs systematically to investigate what’s happening?
Translation: Suzanne O.
Summary: We drove along Road 574 and went in to the villages. The main complaint: owners of land on the other side of the separation fence can't work their fields because of the agricultural permits regime. For the villages whose main livelihood is from agriculture, this is a death blow.
The commander at Gate 753 in Jebara sent us by the road into Tulkarm.
A soldier, a native of Karnei Shomron, thinks that we are plunging a knife into the nation's back.
The school bus crosses the gate; we are told that it has been held up for a long time. Palestinians exiting sound embittered. One of them says in Hebrew: "It's better to die than to live like this". Others say that they have waited hours for the gate to open. A shepherd and his herd cross. From a distance it appears to us that there is crowding at the gate because the Palestinians cannot maintain order.
We approach the soldier at the checkpoint and he immediately attacks: "Is there nowhere for you to volunteer rather than sticking a knife in our backs?" He is from Karnei Shomron. A useless conversation ensues. He sees us as worse enemies than the Palestinians and wants to know if we are in the pay of Hamas.
The crossings continue slowly.
We go towards the Bedouin village of Araba-Ramadin to give out the parcels that Rina has brought. A woman asks if we have school satchels.
It is open and the traffic flows. Some of the labourers who work in Karnei Shomron are still waiting by the gate for inspection.
We went into Sir and stop by a family sitting on the pavement by their house. A conversation develops: they have a problem with agricultural permits to work their land on the other side of the fence. They have a relative in Jius village who owns a grove on the other side of the fence. He is old and it is hard for him to work his land so he is forced to lease it to someone from Kalkilya, but is concerned that they are not working it efficiently. He is under pressure to sell to the person from Kalkilya but he is sure that in this way the land will pass into Jewish hands. His sons have not received permits to cross the gate. Another difficulty is that wild boars are destroying the irrigation pipes.
In the main the village is profitable. The Authority has built a new road and a secondary school. Half of the village residents work abroad and send money home. A housewife comes out with a tray of coffee. Her husband tells us that in 2005 his nephew, a student in Nejach, was arrested at Beit Iba roadblock, handcuffed and put in a cell in the sun: he got heat stroke and died.
We stop by the grocery shop whose owner spent years in Saudi Arabia and he speaks English. From him we hear that two young men were arrested in the village last night, aged 22 and 25. He doesn't know the reason. He is 54 years old, he worked for years in Israel and would like to visit the places he knew but he cannot get a permit.
He tries to contact someone who speaks biblical Hebrew, reads and translates poetry and literature, by telephone. His name is M. S., a name we must know. Unfortunately there is no reply.
Gate no. 927 is open. We are told that it opened late this morning, at 5:25 instead of 5:15 a.m. Two soldiers are in the peripheral checkpoint, eating their breakfast and they happily talk to us. The gate is supposed to be open continuously for 12 hours from 5:15 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. In the past reservists were stationed here and they did not open the gate on time so the residents turned to the High Court. After the High Court verdict regular soldiers were stationed here and the gate opened on time.
We drive up to Palmia village by a narrow, winding dirt road. We stop for a chat with the owner of the grocery shop. He complains that business is bad. The residents' lands are on the other side of the fence and they can't get permits. He works the well and is responsible for sharing the water out. Mekorot allocates 175,000 cubes of water for the whole village. Many of them are forced to rent out their lands because they are getting old and can't get permits for labourers to work the land.
Education: children go to school until they are 15 years old. Further education takes place elsewhere. University graduates and professionals usually go to work in the Emirates.
We drove via Jemal and Sur villages.
We arrived at the school just as it was break time. The pupils are in the playground in their uniforms, eating pita.
We met the head teacher and the mayor and his deputy who had come to visit. They claim that Jebara gate causes a lot of problems because quite often it doesn't open on time and the children are forced to wait over an hour in the school bus. Each pupil has a crossing permit plus a photocopy of their father's ID card.
Meanwhile we are served with sweetened tea. There are 250 pupils in the village and for the first time 16 pupils are taking matriculation exams; 5 girls and 11 boys.
Pressing problems: there are not enough permits to work the village lands on the other side of the separation fence and there are many people refused entry by the Shabak who cannot get permits. An elderly man enters the room and tells us that no one from his family can get a permit (even his 80 year old father is refused by the Shabak). I give him a MachsomWatch card.
Gate 753 (the northern gate) is open.
The soldiers refuse to let us through. Rina gets out the permit from the General in Command. The commander goes to telephone his superiors.
Meanwhile a number of vehicles behind us are held up. A pick up truck loaded up with grocery produce crosses. We are refused. The roadblock commander sends us to the road leading to Tulkarm (the one which goes under Road 557). In effect he sends us into Area A. He says we will be allowed to cross via Te'enim Crossing. Nadim confirms that during Ramadan the crossing to Tulkarm was open to Israelis.
The gate in the direction of Tulkarm is closed. From afar a soldier motions to us that there is no entry. We contact Tami Cohen who says that she will check with the brigade commander. Meanwhile the roadblock commander, a second lieutenant, realises that we are from MachsomWatch and he goes to bring the key, he also says that we can enter Jebara via the gate opposite.
We do a short tour of the village and shop at the local grocer's.
Back to the locked gate, waiting for the soldier to come with the key.
Together with Abu Roatem, the owner of the solitary house and 2 women who are with him, we cross the gate and drive on to Road 444 back to Kfar Sava.
We arrive to see the barrier on both sides is closed. On asking the soldiers why the gate is not open yet, we receive the reply “the computer is down”. Five minutes later, the barrier on our side is opened. A Hummer arrives with the crew to man the computer (not surprising it is “down” if there is no one to operate it!)
The barrier at the other side is opened at 07:00 but the line doesn’t move. We call Tedesa (DCO) to complain. The line of Palestinians starts to move slowly. By 07:20 4 groups of 5 have gone through.
07:30 Sha’ar Eliyahu
About 7 Palestinians are waiting to go through. No pressure on the crossing.
07:45 Jayyous (North)
The gate is open. We meet 2 volunteers from the ECC (from S. Africa and Switzerland) who advise that 18 Palestinians have passed through the gate this morning. Less activity than usual, possibly due to the limited opening time, whereas the gate at Flamiya is open permanently.
According to the soldiers at the crossing, there is an increased number of people going through.
09:00 Azoun Atmeh
The checkpost is open with a total absence of soldiers.
Habla 06:45 - the main gate is still closed, maybe we were too early. 06:50 - the first 5 people leave the inspection. Behind the inner gate there are about 50 people waiting; less than usual. Every 5 minutes, another 5 people go through; we are thrown out of the main gate area and stand behind it.
07:30 There are no workers in the big cage. Israel has declared a "closure".
- 5 07:35tractors and a donkey with its rider are waiting. This is an opportunity to talk and ask questions. The Swiss ecumenical priest whom we have met in the past is there. One of the farmers tells us how permits are given to each family allowing a certain number to go out and work on their land. The teacher, Bassam, will leave tomorrow to go to work in his school but there won't be anyone to take his place on his land since no one else in his family received a permit. There are saws on the carts pulled behind the tractors. The ration of water allowed is so small that it is impossible to irrigate the citrus trees. They need the water for the vegetables, so they have to cut down the citrus.
08:10 - A truck full of garbage is pulled by a tractor, but is not allowed through. It seems that its owner has a permit, but only to Jayyus, where the gate will close in another 5 minutes. The military policewoman surprises us with her desire to help and suggests telephoning the officer in charge to ask for a special one time gesture to let him through. However, it then turns out that his permit is not for a tractor. The soldier claims that they don't usually check this detail, but the military police do. Meanwhile, after he has given up the possibility of passing through, he called his son, who has a permit to Falamya, asking him to come from the village and take the tractor in. The son enters with the tractor and the garbage, and the father stays behind. I asked the father why he didn't go to Jayyus (as written on the permit). He answered that in Jayyus they don't allow him to go through with the tractor. What harassment for a man who just wants to work on his legal land. The distance between Jayyus and Falamya is altogether 1 kilometer. Why do they need different permits? And why, in the same family, they received 2 permits for 2 different gates? And then we met the family of Mahmud and his friendly wife. Only he and his wife are permitted to go onto their land. They returned from a visit to their plot with pails full of guava. Their son waited for them on the other side of the fence to take them in his car to the village. He has 7 children. All of his 4 sons are not permitted to go out to their fields since one of them, when he was a child in 1994, took part in stone throwing. He was brought to trial and punished - but that is not enough. Every time that they go back and ask for an exit permit, they are denied and given strong hints that, if they are willing to cooperate with the GSS, it would help them a lot. This same son, who once sat in jail, needed a work permit for his job in Israel, and received one for a month. But there are no permits for him to work his land.
09:20 - the "Childrens'" gate. We arrived there via the village of Tzur. One woman passed through. One car entered. Quiet. How we got lost and wandered around Tulkarm and ‘Anabta. We tried to go from the Jubarra checkpoint to that at Anabta, according to directions we had received from our new friends in Falamya. We didn't find any other road than the paved one which leads straight into
Tulkarm. There we found a bus driver named Ziad, from Akraba, who happens to be a friend of Nadim's son. He suggested that, for 20 NIS, he would drive a taxi (with a family already in it) in front of us up to the road which leaves Tulkarm in the direction of ‘Anabta. We agreed and, in this way, we passed through the southeastern part of the city, where one Palestinian policeman stood in astonishment with his weapon in the central square and stared at us. We parted from the taxi driver and continued, according to his directions, on the road to the southeast. We passed ‘Anabta, where people also were looking at us in surprise. Only after a rather long trip, longer than what we had expected, we breathed more easily when we saw the checkpoint of ‘Anabta in the distance.
10:00 - No one looked at us there. We didn't see any soldiers at our fast exit. Only then did our driver admit that, during the whole trip in both of the cities, he was very tense until he saw the checkpoint on the other side, where he felt that he had returned "home".
10:05 - 5 cars waiting, we passed through.
Translation: Suzanne O.
Azun Atma South
3 Palestinians are leaving now holding their documents, they put them in their pockets. They join their friends who are sitting under a tree on the other side of the road. 2 children (aged 12?) also leave. They show their documents and cross the road. A youth with a donkey comes – the gate opens and he crosses without showing his papers. All in all traffic is very light.
There is a military jeep in the car park, there are no detained cars. There are soldiers in the look out posts and at the roadblock, there are no detainees.
We went to get to know the neighbours of Tapuach village – Yasuf and Iskaka villages. The new tarmac road comes to an end exactly at the entrance to Tapuach – from there on the road to the two villages is uneven. Yasuf looks sleepy and indeed a hitchhiker (an English teacher) told us that everyone had gone to sleep late last night because of the festival. According to him the residents of the village have been unable to get to their olive groves on the slopes of Tapuach since 2000. He thanks us for our interest and our concern (he called us a human rights organisation). The olive harvest is in another month and the yield is not very good.
10:50 a.m. We returned to Za'atra roadblock
There is heavy traffic of cars. There are no hold ups.
The position of the soldiers at the entrance to Nablus has changed. They are now stationed in a parallel line to the soldiers at the exit roadblock. There are 2 entrance lanes – one for Palestinians, free, the second one is for Israeli vehicles and here there is an inspection of ID cards. At the exit from Nablus there is one lane, there are no hold ups, documents are quickly inspected approximately every 10 vehicles.
We entered the village, the barrier was open. There is a Border Police jeep with 3 soldiers who inspect documents and hold up all those entering and leaving. A small lorry (loaded up with empty cartons) is at the exit from the village, a taxi and a private car want to enter.
The taxi and the lorry are released.
A pedestrian is inspected, both her handbag and her shopping bag are inspected (it is really off putting to see it! In the sun, beside the main road, the behaviour towards her is so unreasonable). They wait for permission over the radio and, five minutes later, she crosses.
So it continues – every vehicle entering or leaving the village is inspected and when there aren't any the Border Policeman goes on to the main road and stops any Palestinian vehicle driving on Road 55.
Another jeep arrives, the inspections continue.
We waited until the car, which had been held up for a long time, is released and this happened after 40 minutes.
We went to see if the northern roadblock is staffed, but the village is so busy and full of life – children skipping, everyone eating out (we had forgotten that it is possible) that we simply drove round the village and resumed our journey – without asking directions for the northern roadblock.
Apart from ours, there are no vehicles.
Closed: as expected.
In a nearby field people are working: picking olives, spraying.
16:00 Eyal Passage
We pass the turnstile and position ourselves opposite the entrance to the building. Shay, the shift director, pounces at us and asks us to leave the military zone. Riva explains that she has never been asked to leave. He summons the Passages director Shimon Levi who is prepared to talk to us only beyond the turnstile. Riva explains that as member of a human rights organisation , the interface between the Palestinians who pass the CP and the Israeli office holders is important to us. After we leave Shimon tells us in a calmer voice that about 4000 people pass the CP every morning at utmost speed, that they continually make all efforts to improve the conditions, that they have added devices such as a shed, toilets, cold water facilities and more. Riva contacts Wohl, the passage officer at the DCO to find out which observation post we are entitled to. Only after we leave he returns her call. He suggest we contact the passage administration.
We turn in the direction of Tzofin. On the way to Kilkilya and Sha'ar Eliyahu. At the entrance to Kilkilya there are no obstructions on entering and leaving the town.
16:30 The Eliyahu Passage
The passage is free and the traffic flows.
16:40 We move onto the Alfey Menashe Road in order to observe the road and the system fences which confine Ras Atiya and Ras Atira and guard the Alfey Menashe settlers, who are returning to their homes at this hour, from any harm. As usual the passage is tightly closed and the sight still is a shocking one.
The gate is shut. There are less than 10 people waiting. We visit the plant nursery and return.
17:00 The gate is open but there is no passage because they wait for the military- policewoman. The soldier at the gate tells us that the vehicle that is supposed to bring her has had some failure (had we known it we would have offered her a hike from Sha'ar Eliyahu…and thus contributed to the war effort). About 10 Palestinian are waiting in the shade behind the yellow shed which has been put up at second thought…with it open side directed to the West, while the sun is beating down.
17:07 There still is no passage. A Palestinian tells us that the delays are a routine. He asks how it is that in the whole Israeli Defence Force there isn't another car available to transport her…Riva calls the DCO. They say they'll investigate the matter at the battalion. In the meantime about 30 people have gathered, all are gathered behind the shed in search of shade, and the shed itself is empty.
The head of the Council of Ras Atiya who is waiting tells us that he and his family have lands, but his son doesn't get a passage permit and he cannot work the fields. On the other hand, his other son, who is a doctor at Beit Lehem, did received the permit… He says he has talked to Micky Fisher and also that a lawyer had tried to deal with the matter without success. Does anybody have an idea???
17:20 The sergeant takes a decision to check the papers manually and to write their numbers down. He askes us for paper to do that!!! I gladly volunteer paper and compliment him on his resourcefulness. If one has goodwill one is able to facilitate the process and indeed the passage back to the village begins but very slowly. The Palestinians pass quietly and in order. In the meantime two vehicle owners and a driver of a donkey cart get the permission to leave HaBLA but have to deposit their papers with a soldier. Riva calls the DCO and reports on what has happened.
17:35 A military vehicle arrives and a military policewoman jumps out of it. She struggles with the checking post key and enters.
17:45 The checking post is still closed and the registration is done manually. Most of the people have passed and we leave, hurrying to a meeting at Nina's.
Watchers: Tom K., Rina T., Shosh A. (reporting)
Translation: Suzanne O.
In Kfar Sava we loaded up with many parcels of clothes and toys which Rina collected for the Bedouin.
The agricultural roadblock at Chabala
The gate was opened at 6:30 a.m. People slowly cross the checkpoints in fives.
Also crossing are: a tractor, donkeys and carts and cars. Most of those crossing are young. We notice that the crossing is jammed and hear loud voices from the other side of the fence. One of them stops by us and explains that the jam is caused by the Palestinians themselves who do not keep in the queue, not the soldiers. When the queue lessens we leave.
Arab a- Ramadin village
The Bedouin village belonging to the Ramadin tribe has been absorbed by Alfei Menasheh and separated from Kalkilya and the surrounding villages by a fence.
There are few people around this early apparently because of Ramadan. We give a number of parcels to a woman in a tin hut and she thanks us – shukran. We see a woman at the top of the road, she hesitates but finally opens her gate. In the yard there is a luxury car and a four by four jeep. This is the house of the Mukhtar – he agrees to join us. Rina talks to them in Arabic. Their son, who speaks Hebrew, prefers to sleep but joins us later.
The tribe has 100 dunams of land officially registered to them. In the past they all made a living from pasturing their flocks but since the absorption of their land there is not enough pasture, feed for their animals is expensive, so they have been forced to get rid of their flocks.
'Voluntary exile' – the government is pressing them to move elsewhere and has offered them in compensation areas which, in their opinion, have been stolen from Palestinians. Obviously they refused.
Originally they are from the Be'er Sheva area; they were expelled in 1948 and came here. They do building work in the settlements but, since the building freeze, they have been unemployed.
We ask what it is that most bothers them and they answer the roadblock – Eliahu crossing which is their gateway to Kalkilya, the municipal town, and to the Palestinian area in general. Instead of going to school in Chabala, a 5 minute walk away, the children are bussed and it happens that they miss the opening of the roadblock and are forced to wait an hour or more for the bus.
Pregnant women, like the elderly and children, are forced to alight from their cars and walk a long way to the pedestrian inspection in all weathers.
An ambulance is stopped at the roadblock and doesn't manage to get to a woman giving birth. She gives birth at home and because of complications caused by this she is hospitalized for a number of weeks.
Shopping in Kalkilya has to be agreed by the civil administration. They feel as if they are in prison.
Because the village is 'illegal' the administration has not connected them to electricity and there are no roads. They have water (by pipelines from Alfei Menasheh) but when something happens, even if it is not their fault, (a roaming donkey which caused a traffic accident) the tap is turned off and they are without water for a whole day. The cost of the water is high. In Chabala it costs NIS1 per cube and they are charged NIS 5.5 per cubic metre.
Electricity: they have a generator which runs for just 5 hours a night.
A permit to drive a vehicle is given to the owner alone. He is not permitted to let his brother or his father drive his vehicle.
Although they live on a rocky, dilapidated hill in huts built of breeze blocks or tin, their only complaint is against the roadblock and against the behaviour towards them of the soldiers.
We give out additional parcels to women and children and leave the village.
Light traffic flows through.
Opposite Izbet Tabib there are a number of shops by the road. The shop fronts are ruined. (See attached photo.) A shopkeeper tells us that during the night, without a demolition order, the owner, a wealthy collaborator, sent criminals to destroy the place. He has been the manager of a shop selling car parts, toys and building materials, for 21 years supporting his extended family (some 40 people) and has now been left penniless after paying the first instalment to a lawyer and to the court house.
Only after he and his friends caught the criminals did the police start an investigation but they released the criminals.
The man is helpless in the face of a powerful collaborator who has connections and money. He, like every Palestinian, is denied entrance to Ariel where the police station is situated.
Rina contacts Yehudit from 'Yesh Din'. It appears that this is an inter-Palestinian dispute and it is not possible to intervene.
A military vehicle stops by us. The officer is familiar with the story. The army does not interfere in internal disputes between Palestinians.
The turning off to Azun: There is a military jeep at the entrance. We stop to buy fruit and vegetables.
We drive onto Road 574, drive through Tolat village and continue on to Azun Atma.
The northern roadblock is open, there are no soldiers. A few cars drive over the crossing.
A driver tells us that inspections take place for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. The IDF has to demonstrate its presence.
The southern roadblock
The gate is closed and two soldiers do not permit us to cross. Rina reads them a letter from Kaplinski and they contact the DCO once again. They inspect our vehicle and the gate to the west is opened.
We drive onto Road 5 and return to Israel.
06:45 – The gate is closed. About 30 laborers wait behind the inner gate. Only one soldier, an MP, explains that there’s been an alert. He’s waiting at the inspection station.
06:50 – The military vehicle with the checkpoint commander arrives. Five laborers enter. The inspection is pretty fast, but the soldiers don’t allow the next five to wait outside the fence, and they waste time walking to the revolving gate and waiting for it to open – so by 07:10 only 15 people had gone through.
07:25 – About ten laborers still waiting to be inspected.
07:38 – The gate is open until 08:15. A tractor and a car cross. Leslie, the Irish volunteer from the Ecumenical organization, whose members have recently been next to this gate all the time, and who live in Jayyus, tells us that the gate opened ten minutes late. Youths from Jayyus threw rocks at the soldiers when they drove first to Qalqilya to open the gate there at 06:15. They then opened the Jayyus gate at 07:30. According to the soldiers, the gate opened late because of the rocks, but they didn’t arrest any of the youths.
Leslie says that yesterday (Saturday) a teacher on vacation tried to go through with his tractor and the soldiers discovered among his belongings a component of an old concussion shell. She said the soldiers panicked and alerted various units, until everyone figured out that it could be thrown away. The teacher didn’t know who put it with his belongings. He was detained for an hour and a half, and released.
08:25 – We arrived here inadvertently, having intended to turn off to the Falamya checkpoint. We must have missed the turn, but a taxi driver told us that in Kafr Jamal we could turn off to Falamya and reach the checkpoint.
08:40 – We drive all the way through Falamya, which is full of greenhouses (some of them dried up), and arrive at a closed checkpoint. The army’s sign on the gate doesn’t indicate when it opens and closes. It might be seasonal, though the army hasn’t posted a sign with hours at the Habla checkpoint either. We returned, disappointed, to Kafr Jamal.
Kafr Sur 09:10 – The taxi driver’s directions were better this time. We went out onto the road that goes down west and north along the security fence until the closed checkpoint. We continued north and turned east on entering the village. A young local man who’ll start working as a geography teacher in Safrin directed us to a road that for some reason doesn’t appear on the map. It isn’t a good road but shortens the drive to Beit Lid and to Safrin nearby. After letting him off in Safrin we drove back to Beit Lid.
Beit Lid 09:25 – We left the center of Beit Lid to the east and glided along to Route 60, on the way to Beit Iba.
Deir Sharaf 09:35 – We wanted to see whether the road to Jenin was open. We rode until we reached the entrance to the army camp. There’s an inactive checkpoint and soldiers guarding the entrance to the camp. They don’t stop cars driving in any direction.
'Anabta09:45 – One lane open in each direction; traffic is light, and flowing. We see no soldiers in the inspection positions. There might be someone in the tower.