Jalama, Reihan, Shaked, Tue 22.9.09, Afternoon
Today is the third day of Eid El Fitir – the feast at the end of Ramadan. We observed that the “easing up of conditions” that was to take place during Ramadan and the holidays were either not implemented, or fell by the wayside.
Jalameh Crossing, 14:10
We drove the little girl Aya and her mother Suheil to Jalameh after her dialysis treatment at Rambam. When we arrived the parking lot was so crowded that we could barely find a place to park. The checkpoint is filled with holiday visitors going in both directions. At the entrance to the terminal there is crowding and pushing. Families are standing with small children, people are constantly moving through the turnstile in both directions. At the far end of the terminal there is a window for people entering the West Bank, and it is very crowded there. People entering Israel come to the turnstile from another window to the left that is beyond our view/ People are fed up, complain about the long wait and the degradation at the checkpoint.
One man complains that he came out quickly because he was let through due to a heart problem, but his son and daughter-in-law are still inside. Another declares that he has not seen his family in Jenin for a long time, but prefers not to go: he refuses to put up with the degrading experience of going through the crossing. It appears that instead of improved conditions for the holiday, the checkpoint is more crowded and less efficient than ever.
On our way out we saw a bus waiting and asked the drivers who they were taking. They said they were waiting for workers who were harvesting olives near Tiberias.
Soon there will be a vehicle crossing point here and Israeli Arabs will be able to take their cars to Jenin to shop. We can see the new facility that is already standing, which is supposed to open October 1st.
Salem Crossing: 15:05
We stopped at Salem, which was opened for people to cross during Ramadan and the holiday. Next to an opening that had been made in the fence a place had been prepared for people to cross, but the entire place was empty. (See photo). It is ironic that there is so much overcrowding at Jalameh, but no one is taking advantage of the opportunity to cross here. The army had set up a sunshade, tables, and even chemical toilets. All are waiting for people to use – but because the opening of the crossing was not publicized properly, all these efforts were in vain. A large red sign stands at the checkpoint that reads: “This road continues into Area A [which is] under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. Entrance to Area A by Israelis is forbidden, places your life in danger, and is a criminal act.”
We met H., an Israeli Arab from Haifa, who was waiting for a bus that had taken people from Kfar Yasif in the Western Galilee to Jenin. He explained that he works for a company that provides the busses for tours to the West Bank in order to promote business. A Danish company subsidizes the cost of the busses and people pay a token fee to cover the rest of the expense. H. states that he is an Israeli Arab and is proud of it, and says he would rather live here than anywhere else.
Shaked-Tura – 15:55
The checkpoint is quiet. Three pedestrians pass through. The muezzin calls from the mosques in Tura and Dir El Malak. A man stops to pray under the concrete shelter.
Reihan Barta’a 16:15
The lower parking lot is relatively empty. There are no workers, and most of the traffic coming through the checkpoint are families visiting relatives from the seamline zone. A polite voice sounds over the loudspeaker in Arabic: “Put your packages through first and then enter.” In the upper part of the checkpoint in the sleeve people were less polite. Families are going through in both directions. The problems seem to be with “mixed” families in which one member has a blue Israeli ID and the other has a green Palestinian one. It is not clear why, but every family encounters problems: people have to wait ten minutes or more with small, tired children, all dressed in holiday finery. Everyone gets through in the end – but not without a lot of shouting over the loudspeaker and many demands.
We left at 17:00. .