'Anin, Jalama, Reihan, Shaked, Thu 11.6.09, Afternoon
Another aspect of the occupation: Punishing Palestinians for not being prompt…
We dropped off the little girl Aya and her mother Suheil at Jalameh and got out to observe and to show our guest the border crossing. Suheil asked us to enter the terminal with her. We explained that we could not, and left for A’anin.
While we wait for the gate to open at 15:00 we are told by a resident of A’anin that his brother, Imad Wahed Assad Yussef, had his agricultural permit confiscated at Reihan on Monday. The reason: he crossed to the seamline zone on Monday morning through A’anin, but had not left work in his olive grove in time to return to A’anin before the gate closed at 3:30, and had to return to the West Bank through the Reihan-Barta’a checkpoint. Since anyone coming into the seamline zone through an agricultural checkpoint must return via the same checkpoint, he had broken the rules, and therefore had his agricultural permit confiscated as “punishment”. For this serious crime he might not get his permit back for 30 days. Neta calls the Liaison and Coordination Administration to try and straighten the matter out, but is told that the person in charge is not there and that the man should call about his permit on Sunday.
A resident of A’anin is returning home with an empty wagon after fertilizing his olive trees. He complains bitterly that the herd of cows from Ein Shahala still roams his groves, causing extensive damage, and that his elderly father and mother who passed away two months ago received agricultural permits – but his brother – who is needed in the fields - did not.
The gate opens at 15:00 and several tractors drive through. Neta gives people several bags of used clothing and they are permitted to take them through promptly. When the man approached the soldier at the checkpoint to appeal to get his brother’s permit back, the soldier chastised him: “I have to be here to open this gate at 3:00. How would you feel if I didn’t get here until 3:05?” We were told by the soldiers that this morning about 30 people out of the 140 people who are permitted to pass through came through the gate at A’anin.
15:40 Shaked-Tura Checkpoint
A car with a refrigerator on its roof is waiting to be admitted into the seamline zone and the refrigerator is being checked by the soldiers. At 15:55 the passengers walk through and get in again after the car with the refrigerator was allowed through. Another vehicle arrives traveling towards the West Bank and leaves at 16:05. We depart for Reihan-Barta’a.
16:15 Reihan-Barta’a Checkpoint
The lower parking lot is crowded with cars and taxis. For some reason the exit to the terminal is locked, and about 20 people are waiting to get out. We call to the staff to ask why the gate is not opened, and after a few minutes the gate is opened and they all hurry out. At the entrance to the terminal at the end of the sleeve about a dozen people are waiting. They go in quickly since there are two windows open.
One man is carrying two large empty containers and asks to go in through the gate because they are too large to fit into the turnstile. He is let in and the gate is quickly shut again. As more people arrive the line in front of the entrance becomes longer.
About 30 people are waiting, and ironically only one window is operating. Soon the window reopens again and people begin to move. On the way out a Palestinian greets our guest in English with a brief summary of how things are: “You see what it’s like here... We have to come through here every day. There are good days and there are bad days. Life is hard for us.”
He said it all.
We left at 17:20.