'Anabta, 'Azzun, Eliyahu Crossing, Irtah (Sha'ar Efrayim), Mon 21.9.09, Morning
06:45 – The road to Ras Atiya is deserted due to the Muslim holiday of "Id el Fiter". Along the beautiful road, the squills are in bloom. It is raining. Three soldiers are at the shack at the entrance to the village and the gate is open.
07:10 – Eliyahu Passage is deserted too. At the entrance to Qalqiliya there is no one except for the two soldiers in the watchtower. The parking lot is also empty. On the road, the traffic is lively: Israeli cars, coming from the direction of Sufin, and, here and there, also Palestinian cabs. In the main street of the villages Nabi Ilyas and Funduq, all the shops are closed.
Two Palestinian young men are standing at the turn to Azzun. One of them says he works in Kfar Saba. He had a permit with which he could pass from the seam-line zone to the agricultural lands of the family, but it was confiscated by the soldiers. He shows us a note he got from them, which confirms the confiscation of the permit and advises him to turn to the DCO [District Coordination Office of the IDF Civil Administration that handles passage permits] to get a new one. According to what he says, he went out and came back through Eliyahu Passage but he didn't go into the inspection room.
As we speak to the guy, a taxi arrives bringing workers on their way back home. They say that the passage to Israel was closed. We call the IDF Humanitarian Center where we are told that as of last night, there is no "closure" [blanket restriction of passage regardless of permits].
We find out later as we get to the passage at Irtah that today the checkpoint opened at 07:30 assuming that the workers don't go out to work because of the holiday.
The entrance to Azzun from road 55 is blocked by high earth rampart topped by barbed wire coils that make any passage even for pedestrians impossible. Several tens of meters before the rampart stands a police jeep next to which a soldier and two women soldiers of the Border Police are standing.
We stop to take a picture of the earth rampart with the coils of barbed wire. The soldiers approach us to enquire who we are. We comment about the high road block which obstructs pedestrian traffic. One of the women soldiers assures us that pedestrians can pass there. "How?" we insist, "Despite the barrier?" Her answer is, "They are Arabs".
08:30 – At the entrance to Beit Lid, on the road we used to take to go from Ar-Ras to Anabta, there is a new sign painted red which says, "Palestinian territory. No entry for Israelis. Entering this territory is illegal."
08:45 – Greetings over the loudspeaker from the watchtower welcome us, "Good morning MachsomWatch women". The song "Hallelujah" follows. Few cars, some of which with Israeli licence plates, are on the road in both directions. There are no soldiers in the shack.
09:15 – There are three buses in the parking lot that have come to take families to visit prisoners. A few cabs are waiting for passengers.
We see here a Palestinian from Tulkarm who got permission to go out for three day family visit in Barta'a. He is 55 years old and has 7 kids. He had been working as a plasterer in the Tel Mond area for the last 18 years when one day he found out that the "Shabak" [Israeli General Security Service] had cancelled his permit.
He contacted a lawyer, paying him a lot of money, to help him find out the reasons and try to reverse the decision. Now, again, he has a working permit and he can work in Israel. Although the closure was lifted last night, the gates at Irtah passage opened only at 07:30 this morning, probably on the assumption that because of the holiday the workers won't go out to work.
Earlier we met workers who went out to work and were forced to return because the gates didn't open.