Jalama, Reihan, Shaked, Tue 26.5.09, Afternoon
Observers: Hasida S., Bracha B.A. (Reporting & Translating)
We drove Aya another cancer patient and their mothers from Rambam Hospital to the Jalameh crossing.
Drivers waiting in the parking lot on the Israeli side claimed that it took an hour to get through the crossing, and that it took two hours to take a bag of food to someone. However, people we met outside the terminal said it had taken them a half hour. It appears that some of these time claims are exaggerated: when one is forced to waste time uselessly, every minute must seem an eternity.
There are about 20 people exiting and entering the terminal. A man struggles to maneuver large packages into one cell of the turnstile. Palestinian village women walk through with large bundles balanced on their heads. Several Israeli Arab women from Ibitin explained that they had gone to Jenin for the day to visit and shop, but that because of the long time spent getting through the crossing it was “not worthwhile.” They emphasized that at home residents of Ibtin and the neighboring town of Rechasim “You can’t tell who’s Jewish and who’s an Arab. We all get along.”
Israeli Arabs can go to the West Bank every day except Saturdays without a permit, but it takes a long time to get through. Another man asks to speak to us and complains bitterly when we stop to hear him,” We’re treated badly. We’re humiliated, cursed…If they don’t want us to go through, than let them close the crossing and be done with it.” He drives away in a shining new Mazda. He is not used to such humiliation. Others, regrettably, are and do not complain.
We left at 3:10.
Shaked Tura 16:40
There were three cars waiting to be checked and four soldiers doing nothing while people waited. We crossed the gate and approached a soldier to inquire why things were being held up. He had no answer and told us that he did not work there, and that the commander was not there. The sergeant came up and also said the commander was not there. Five minutes later the cars and passengers were still waiting. Finally two more soldiers arrived and cars going towards the West Bank and the seamline zone were quickly checked (due to our presence?) All the soldiers were busy checking the vehicles when we left at 17:05.
17:15 Reihan Barta’a Checkpoint
Going down into the sleeve we saw Palestinian workers busy weeding next to the fence. How ironic that they must be the ones to maintain the checkpoint area! What’s worse? Building houses in the settlements? Building the separation fence? When we reach the entrance to the terminal there are about 50 workers waiting to enter! They are angry and ask us to call and tell them to open another window. I go to the entrance and try and attract the attention of one of the staff while Hasida calls the checkpoint commander. Finally the turnstile starts moving. It opens for about 10 seconds every 2 minutes or so and a dozen people quickly pass through to wait in line at the one open window. I call “excuse me” to a staff member standing on the other side of the gate, but he ignores me and walks away. Finally the entire group of workers is all inside, but more are coming.
17:35 We drove through the checkpoint to the lower parking lot. A car was being held up. The driver was a lawyer who was bringing a man with a back injury and another person accompanying him. About 20 minutes later the injured man was transferred through the vehicle checkpoint to a Palestinian car, the lawyer returned in his car to the seamline zone, and the man accompanying him was admitted through the terminal. They left shortly before 18:00. All the workers we had seen above came through in about 8 minutes.
As we left we encountered a woman sitting on a bench opposite the vehicle inspection shed. She said she had been there for an hour, and added “I’ve got a baby at home.” Again, when your time is wasted, it seems endless.
We left at 18:10.