Reihan, Shaked, Tue 24.2.09, Afternoon
Translated by L.W
13:07 Shaked-Tura Checkpoint
A nice day. Just as we arrive a pickup is sent back to the West Bank , and the driver of a Transit next to us says it’s because they won’t let him take a laundry machine across.
Children are returning from school, some pass freely, others through the hut with the scanning machine, and it’s not clear to us why. One cheerful girl says shalom and asks our names, while the rest crowd around her, and quickly the whole bunch continue on their way, and another small girl pauses to point her umbrella at Netta in a virtual threat. Interesting where she learnt to threaten like that…
Netta goes to ask the officer about the passage of the children, and he says that he doesn’t have anyone to direct them on the West Bank side of the gate, so some pass through the hut even though, from his standpoint, under 12 there’s no need for a check.. Netta asks about student women who used to pass without checks, and the officer says that there is now a warning about a woman terrorist. As for the laundry machine, he promises that there is no way someone with one machine will be sent back. The instruction is to pass whatever is for domestic use and to block whatever is commercial, and he sent back a vehicle with a number of boxes of paper for serving shwarma or felafel. He related that he agreed to pass a pickup with two laundry machines, and he closes a blind eye to cases where clearly a man crosses a number of times with similar goods in small quantities, which are clearly for sale.
13:38 – an armored Hummer comes out of the West Bank . A frightening machine… A child who passed quarter of an hour ago with a box comes again with two packages.. The officer makes him send one package back with a driver going into the West Bank , and allows only the second package into the Seam Zone. The ridiculous situations created by the fence -- “personal use” or “commercial” – are subject to personal judgement of whoever is at the checkpoint. The officer clarified for us that he is being nice in letting things through, when they are clearly not for personal use, and the child will have to continue to play the game, and take another walk for the remaining package.
14:30 Baqa Checkpoint
We have time today to visit a checkpouint that we do not usually get to, because there is very little activity, and it is on the Green Line. Two soldiers at the checkpoint and a sophisticated system of fences and separators that are not needed. One of the soldiers answers courteously and explains that the checkpoint is open from 06:00 until 12:00, and about 50 people pass each day. A lot of child pass to school on the West Bank side. While we are there, a car brings an elderly woman, and the soldiers allow the man accompanying her to go through the scanning machine and out of the hut to where a car is waiting for her on the other side. The man comes back and asks for a pass to return in a few hours, but that’s a problem which must wait for DCO approval because it’s not clear whether that is possible. During a long conversation with the soldier who was courteous to us, he says that as long as he is there at the checkpoint, he will let the man return.
15:06 Reihan Bartaa Checkpoint
An Israel Police jeep in the lower parking lot (Palestinian side). The drivers crowding around say the police are checking licenses. In the centre of the lot stands a Transit (taxi), and a policeman is inspecting its baggage compartment.
Seamstresses and labourers are returning from work, and the lot is full of drivers waiting for passengers. One of the drivers asks us to go with him to the gate, and he explains that in the morning there were a lot of people in line.
15:27 – a cleaner enters the position, and transit stops. Two women stand and wait to enter the terminal, and 13 men are waiting to come out. A driver explains to me that it is not proper for a woman to stand and wait where there are so many men (he means all the drivers). The wait lasts seven minutes, seems not long, but I can understand why every minute trapped in the cage formed by the fences seems like an eternity.
15:50 – on the other side of the terminal, there is usually one window functioning out of the four to “serve” people going into the West Bank . People arrive in groups and therefore have to wait a while. The number of people is relatively small – we must have arrived early.
16:00 – the woman stuck in the passage at 15:27 is sitting at the end of the sleeve, waiting for her husband who is being checked with their car. She is angry that the check is dragging out. While we talk, the husband arrives. She waited 40 minutes for him. There was no line of cars to be checked, but there were vehicles in the inspection compound.