'Azzun 'Atma, Mon 4.5.09, Morning
Over 100 Palestinian workers (with and without work permits) were arrested yesterday in Ramat Gan by the police, kept in difficult conditions for the whole night, and "released" in the morning at the Shomron Crossing, with no means of transportation to get home (except on foot). Some of them did not get their telephones and IDs back.
In fact, there has been increased harassment of Palestinian workers by the police in Ramat Gan for quite a while, including confiscation of cellular phones, which are never returned, which the police apparently take for themselves. 'Azzun 'Atma - southern checkpoint, 06:50-07:10 Between 20-30 workers waiting for their employers across the road. About 10 workers waiting at the checkpoint. All of them work in the nearby settlements. Some come from villages to the north of 'Azzun 'Atma and have already gone through the northern checkpoint of the village. They say that the checkpoint was OK today.
In the opposite direction, 6 children are waiting with their school bags to get to the school in their own village. They are holding all the necessary permits for going through the checkpoint. The female soldier who is passing them through tries to be pleasant, forgoes the inspection of the permits; smiles. I didn't see that they smiled back. One mother who is accompanying her daughter is made to show her permits.
This checkpoint, which was set up 2 months ago, is becoming established and growing in size. A courtyard closed in with cement barriers surrounds the pillbox, with a room next to it. In this way a new checkpoint is being built, bit by bit... Road #5On the way, after the Shomron turnoff, we saw dozens of men going in groups toward the east. We stopped next to one of them and he told us that the Ramat Gan police had arrested more than 100 workers yesterday as they were returning from work. They took their IDs and telephones, handcuffed and blindfolded them, and they had been held the whole night in terribly crowded conditions (so that they had to spend the whole night crouching), and only occasionally brought them water and allowed them to go to the bathroom. There was no possibility of praying. They were interrogated by the police and the GSS. Some of them were asked to become collaborators in return for a work permit.
In the morning, they loaded them onto buses which dropped them off at the Shomron Crossing. All the IDs and telephones which had been kept in a sack were dumped on the ground and each man had to find his own. There were those who did not find their telephones. Some of them had valid work permits for Israel, and even overnight permits. They got the same treatment. In the morning, they were not able to go to work.
Road #5 is one of the "apartheid" roads, so there are no Palestinian vehicles. They had to go by foot as far as Zeita, more than 20 km as the crow flies. The same man told us that the Ramat Gan police had been harassing the Palestinian workers for a long time. Beatings, curses, insults. Among other things, they "confiscate" (apparently take for themselves) cellular phones. They had taken the phone and a check for 500 NIS from his cousin 2 months ago and didn't return them.