'Anin, Jalama, Reihan, Shaked, Thu 20.8.09, Afternoon
There is a constant flow of workers returning from work in Israel and people coming back into Israel from shopping in Jenin. Everyone is preparing for Ramadan, and evidently Israeli Arabs still prefer to shop in Jenin in the West Bank despite the delays and difficulty it takes to get through the checkpoint. One man complained that he had been waiting for a long time, but proudly showed us a bag of tiny eggplants that he planned to stuff with rice – they cost NIS 8 in Israel, but only 3 in Jenin! The security guard again demanded to see my notebook, and explained “We’re trying to make things easier during Ramadan.”
As we approached the gate a soldier said to us, “May I ask what you are doing here?” He is evidently new, and we ask if he has heard of Machsom Watch. Several tractors, a boy with a donkey, and many other young boys were waiting at the gate. Things seemed to go smoothly and the soldiers let people through and allowed wagons to pass through loaded with plastic chairs, bags of sawdust, ties, and many other things. At 15:15 one tractor and wagon was delayed as a father with a young boy about 12 showed his documents. “This only shows that the boy was born,” declares the soldier. (How else did the child come into the world?) After delaying the boy and his father another 15 minutes the soldier, unable to leave them there but unwilling to back down, finally capitulated, but tells the father that his son needs a “special permit”.
As the soldiers came to close the gate at 15:30 we asked what the problem was with the father and son. He explained that the boy is over 12 - too old to be included in his father’s permit, and too young to have his own ID at age 16 and receive a separate permit. Thus, he “falls between two stools.” I asked how the boy had been allowed across in the morning. He, of course, had not been there to let him across.
A telephone call to the Liaison and Coordination Administration confirmed that there is no such thing as a “special permit” and that all children under 16 are to be included in their parents’ permit. It appears that there is a lack of coordination between the soldiers in the field and the Liaison and Coordination Administration and that there is inconsistency in transmitting and carrying out orders. At 15:30 everyone had gone through, and we left.
The checkpoint is quiet. An Israeli civilian car drives through with soldiers. Several cars pass through to the seamline zone after a quick check.
The lower parking lot is so crowded with cars and taxis that we have difficulty maneuvering our own car through and could find no place to park. A small number of workers are coming out of the terminal. Everyone is getting ready for Ramadan: As we drove back to the upper car park and began to walk down the sleeve toward the entrance of the terminal. We met several men carrying heavy packages of water, fish, and other groceries, and gave them a hand lugging it all down to the turnstile.
There are two windows open in the terminal and people are moving through quickly. We listen to the usual complaints about people not being able to go to work in Israel through Reihan Checkpoint in the morning. One man also tells us that the number 27 Egged busses from Hadera to Reihan will not take them back, and we promise to write to the Ministry of Transportation and investigate the matter. Traffic begins to slow down and only one window remained open.
We left at 16:55.