'Azzun 'Atma, Mon 27.4.09, Morning
We arrived at the checkpoint at 0705 and stayed until 0740.
It was very busy, possibly because of the closure of the West Bank. We thought that maybe people with permits to work within the Green Line had to find work in the West Bank for the day. We saw some people waiting across the road after exiting, negotiating with potential employers that stopped by, and afterwards entering their cars.
Some of the people came from the Beit Amin side so they had to go through both checkpoints on each side of Azzun Atma to get there. We were told that the situation at Beit Amin was worst but we could not go there to confirm this.
There were two soldiers at the checkpoint but only one was checking the permits. We asked why both can’t do this to speed things up and they explained that according to their orders, one has to be alert and watch the other and the surroundings. We counted about 40 people waiting beyond the gate for their permits to be checked.
We spoke to some of the people that were waiting for potential employers at the other side of the road and they raised the following issues:
· They asked to photograph the checkpoint thinking that photos have a greater impact;
· They complained about having to waste so much time going through both checkpoints;
· The told us how difficult life was because Azzun Atma is divided and because the checkpoint is not open at night;
· They feel very frustrated with the daily checkpoint experience;
· Some of the people who work in the settlements were especially bitter because of the treatment they get while working, they are assigned an armed guard to watch over them although some of them have permits to work within the Green Line, therefore, in theory, can wander around freely.
One good point I noticed in relation to MachsomWatch: one of the potential employers approached the checkpoint while waiting for a worker. He seemed to know both the soldiers and the worker but the soldier asked him not to come too near, although I was allowed to stand right next to the gate and the soldiers. I assume this means that the soldiers are accepting MachsomWatch and its work.