'Azzun 'Atma, Thu 3.9.09, Afternoon
15:55 We arrived at the southern checkpoint.
On weekdays at this hour the laborers return from work, and the checkpoint is always filled. But today we see only a few Palestinians on their way home, and we assume that it’s because of Ramadan.
ID’s are inspected through the semi-transparent window in the concrete cube next to the pedestrian passage.
A group of laborers arrives at the checkpoint and is inspected by the checkpoint commander standing near the tent.
We waited until everyone in the group went through, and entered the village.
F., one of the taxi drivers, takes us to the northern checkpoint. He tells us that during Ramadan there’s practically no traffic at this hour. People finish working in the early afternoon, and he recommends that we arrive about 13:00. At his suggestion, we go back. He takes us to see the house he’s begun to build (the upper picture, on the right), but which he can’t finish because his lot is too close to the settlement (settlement houses in the lower picture). He and his family live in the adjoining house, and he points to a white structure, which is part of his house. His father lived there before he died. F. and his brother renovated the building a few years ago – they didn’t enlarge it, but only fixed it up. The army didn’t allow them to continue, and fined them.
The villagers are cut off from their agricultural land. F. tells us that only a few of them receive permits to work their land, and no more than one or two per family. Under such conditions, it’s impossible to cultivate the land appropriately. He continues and says that someone who goes through the gate to work his land without a permit is fined NIS 1000 or is jailed for a month.
We say goodbye to him and leave through the southern checkpoint.
16:26 A few laborers are being checked by the checkpoint commander.
A donkey cart carrying two elderly people and two children crosses the checkpoint from the direction of the village, crosses the road and continues south.
We cross the road toward our car and a youth approaches us, a guava seller named Mu’ataj, who lives in one of the village houses beyond the fence. He and his older brother tell us that for the last two days the soldiers haven’t allowed him to enter the village on a bicycle or a donkey, only on foot. We asked them about the donkey cart which we saw going through and they said that the soldiers permit that man to go through.We told them we’d try to look into it. We contacted DCO Qalqilya to find out whether the orders had changed. The answer was, “We’re not authorized to talk to you.” We were given the phone number of an officer named Grisha, which wasn’t connected. Aluma, at the humanitarian office, said she’d look into it. In a subsequent conversation she said that the soldiers claim that there aren’t any soldiers at the checkpoint, that the youths are from another village, that they don’t know which checkpoint we’re referring to, and that we have to report the incident at the time it occurs. With Miki F.’s help we were able to speak with Keinan, the crossings officer whose assignment is ending. He said that the soldiers are new and aren’t familiar with the orders, and said he’d take care of it.A few days later he no longer answered the phone.